When Giving, Give the Right Way
Travel gives birth to many life-changing experiences. It is truly a dynamic exchange between traveler and stranger. For this reason, it is not uncommon for individuals who travel to one place from another to feel impacted by the people they meet. And this impact, whether it comes from reasons of religion, philanthropy, or gratitude, is the meaning found in a moment with someone new, which inspires the desire to give. So, how do we make sure that we are giving in the right way?
Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for giving responsibly in Africa.
DO Consider the Impacts of Your Gift, DO NOT Give Blindly
When making a contribution, consider the positive and negative impacts of your gift to those who are receiving it. Different countries are composed of different cultures—and what you may see as a gift of kindness may be felt as an offensive gesture by another. This is why it is important give respectfully and consider responsibly.
DO Give to Organizations, DO NOT Give to Individuals
Sometimes, the most well-meaning acts can have negative consequences, as is the often case when well-intentioned tourists hand out sweets, used clothing, or books to children and local villages. Such acts of giving can encourage a dependence on begging in the community, especially among children.
When giving money or goods, it is much better to give directly to reputable local organizations that work to improve the social welfare of the communities, or to international groups that work with them.
DO Your Research, DO Not Assume All Recipients Are Righteous
There are many organizations that are doing good work, but not all that look good are doing great things. In urban settlements, also known as slums, slumlords may ask for money under the guise of a well-marketed organization. This should not deter you from giving, but compel you to consider the integrity of the recipient’s intentions.
DO Give Strategically and Locally, DO NOT Assume a One-Size-Fits-All Model
The key to donating items like clothes or books is to operate locally so you can 1. buy relevant items to donate and 2. Find the right organizations for your donations. What makes an item relevant? Well, don’t donate old computers to a region where there is a lack of electricity. Don’t donate books written in English to a school where English isn’t used. Instead, figure out what the urgent needs are in any given location. Ask if school uniforms are needed, or ask librarians what the most needed books are.
DO Follow Up, DO NOT Forget or Disappear
When a person or community makes such a profound impact on your life that you feel compelled to donate, you should follow up on that donation. You don’t necessarily have to donate again, but you can check in on the community through further research or visiting again.
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” ―Maya Angelou