Who’s Helping Whom?

There are better ways to provide relief to struggling countries

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Julie Freijat, co-editor in chief

When I was younger, I was taught that helping others was a duty we were all called to. I was told that it wa

s our responsibility to take care of those who couldn’t take care of themselves. I felt blessed, saintly. I was beyond ready to take the advantages I had been given in life and use them to assist others. But somethi

ng about this sentiment is troubling.

If you look at the world as it is now, there are hundreds of conflicts and millions of people in need of help. In our little bubble, these people seem so far away and so incredibly different. They seem to be in situations far worse than us — they need us. Right?

But the reality is not what it seems. Sure, these people do need help. The hungry need food, and the homeless need shelter. And an obvious way to get assistance to these people would be volunteer trips. But are these volunteer trips the most effective way to help? Or have we lost the original purpose of these missi

ons within our own, fame-driven god-complex?

First and foremost, I am not writing this to criticize every single person who goes on a volunteer trip to a poorer country. In fact, a lot of those people have amazing intentions and do provide substantial help. But instead I’d like to suggest that, perhaps, we can do more.

We spend thousands of dollars flying ourselves to countries to make bracelets and take pictures with children who are struggling with problems more complex than our ‘kindness’ can solve. That money could be used elsewhere.

 

There are organizations whose sole purpose is to provide domestic assistance to people in conflict areas so we do not disturb the industrialization that needs to occur on its own. These organizations take donations from people and move them across the world to people who already reside and work in these conflict areas so they can instill solutions that are substantial, palpable and capable of evolving.

When we are driven by the urge to feel good about ourselves instead of the urge to help others, we fail in our attempts to assist. We need to stop looking at developing countries as places that ‘need us.’

It’s time we stop acting like our cards and bracelets change the world.