'Where does our charity money go?' is a question which is raised several times around this time of year; however, it appears that as quickly as it is raised, it is dropped even quicker. There is no doubt in my mind that SOME of the money we donate truly does go towards helping those who need it, but in my eyes, this is not good enough. When we donate an amount of money to charity, we expect for the WHOLE amount to go towards helping those less fortunate than ourselves and anything less than that sickens me.
The reason for me raising this debate yet again is because of a trip which I have recently been on, that opened my eyes to the situation more than I ever anticipated. A couple of months ago, I travelled to Kenya for a month with Leeds Metropolitan University, with the sole purpose of attempting to make a difference at a small school which had been built from scratch, and part of our trip to Kenya involved visiting Kibera, Africa's biggest slum. Most people think that they have an idea of what a slum is; and the likes of Comic Relief do, to some extent, portray a realistic image of the truth - however, the full impact of them cannot be felt until you see it for yourself.
Now Comic Relief has raised over £750 Million since it was established in 1985, which I think we will all agree is a staggering amount. One would be forgiven for thinking that from year to year, the conditions abroad should be steadily improving; however, those who live there, in the thick of it, beg to differ. I was lucky enough to have a chat to two individuals in Kibera who gave me a true insight into where our charity money goes. What was their answer? Into the pockets of the corrupt government. They say that they see very little, if any, down in Kibera, and the money goes towards supporting the government's lavish lifestyles. I am sure that reading this, you are probably thinking, 'This can't be true, the British government wouldn't let us do such a thing if they knew the money wasn't working', but oh so naive you are! There has been little, if any, improvement in the Kibera slum over the years; 2.5 Million people are still bathing/washing/drinking from the river containing the sewage of the rich and every day is a continuing struggle.
So, why has this not changed and why has the money not been getting to help those in need? Because the governments in countries where this happens make too much money from naive westerners like us! Unless money enters into Kibera through other means, or a non-corrupt government comes into power, conditions will not improve, and that is the sad reality. So should we stop giving to charity? I don't think we should; however, we should be more clued up as to where the money is going. Personally, I won't be giving money to the likes of Comic Relief, as I don't believe it helps the likes of Kibera. It's all a front which in turn makes us feel like 'That's our good deed done for the day'. What I recommend is to donate to those charities in the UK who will hand money to charities abroad, not the government, so that you can really see your money making a difference. After all, charity is all about making a difference, not funding lavish lifestyles!