Why Me?

(Note: Includes some serious charity marketing, clichés and almost naïve goodwill. The opinions in this text are by yours truly, they don’t necessary represent any organization's viewpoints.) I’m writing this during the summer vacation season and most of us have the privilege to just hang out in parks and enjoy the time of the year. Still my head is full of dark thoughts. Why? For two reasons, first being that my holiday is already over and secondly because at the same time, far away from my desk, every minute, a child dies because of starvation.

I am currently employed by UNICEF Finland and because of my work I’m seeing the consequences of natural catastrophes and conflicts every month. Usually my colleagues’ workdays and mine are quite normal, but sometimes when your e-mail Inbox fills with news about catastrophes, conflicts, or for example statistics about women’s body mutilations you cannot help but feel strongly hopeless and lost. Does our work make a difference if we can’t help all the children of the world, I’m just waste of space, why am I not in Somalia digging water wells right now?

Despite these feelings, this article is about hope and helping.

Because no matter how terrible forces ramble through developing countries, and how many children die every day, there’s still one force bigger than all this. It builds school from pieces of fabrics, it injects the life-saving vaccine to babies’ arms and helps a child from not dying because of diarrhoea or starvation. It makes me go to work and keeps me sane and not becoming cynical.

The force called hope.

You must have read about the disastrous crisis of Eastern Africa by now. A month ago there was a leading article in Helsingin Sanomat about this, written by the operator of UNICEF Afghanistan. You have heard the news, read the statistics and so on. Now, there are only three options what you could have done.

  1. You haven’t seen the news. If this is the case, please go to unicef.fi and read more about the crisis. Then come back here.
  2. You've donated some money to some organization that helps the people in East Africa. Congrats! You’ve done a great deed! You can jump to the end of this article or keep reading and feel good about yourself.
  3. You haven’t done anything – you may not even feel anything.

I dedicate this article to you people in option number 3. First of all, I think it’s not your fault. You haven’t done anything wrong; in fact you haven’t done anything at all. What may be the reason for you not helping other people through organizations such as UNICEF is, of course, your personal business. However in my work I’ve faced many reasons for this and I would like to use my expertise to open them up here, and make you donate. I refuse to think that people are not helping because of lack of good will, we just need a little more hope and perspective. The steps of helping

  1. Recognize the need. First of all, find out a little bit of the need of help. Who are the people you want to help and what’s the best way of helping them. UNICEF is a massive organization that helps children no matter what their heritage, religion, political background or ethnicity. We believe that when we help children, we create a better future.
  2. Face the facts. Here are some important ones:
    • You can help and every euro does count. You can buy 6 vaccines against measles with one euro. Now tell me that one euro isn’t enough.
    • It doesn’t matter why you want to help. Imagine this scenario: an old lady wishes to be walked across the crosswalk and she cannot do it on her own. You go there and help the lady only because you wish your halo to shine brighter. You’re being selfish and your helping isn’t “real”. BUT. It doesn’t matter, the lady is across the street. She’s happy, you’re happy; it’s a win-win situation. The same goes with charity work. It doesn’t matter that being a monthly donator makes you feel incredibly relieved or happy. That’s just a bonus, you’re helping people in need and you’re feeling good.
    • When you donate through big organizations, your help goes where it’s supposed to go. From every euro UNICEF Finland gets, we donate almost 80 cents to the target (http://www.unicef.fi/tietoa-taloudesta). Don’t let yourself be fooled, you deserve to know the percents of your donation that actually reach the targets. Ask direct questions form the organizations and demand clear answers.
  3. Recognize the will to help. Well this is quite self-explanatory.
  4. Don’t let yourself down. With all the news full of despair, it’s easier to put your head in a hole like an ostrich. No one can help all the dying children and that’s just a fact. I’ve often had conversations with people saying, “Well, if you can’t help everybody, what’s the point? Besides the world's population is too big as it is, so we shouldn’t save their lives.” Now, there are three truly wrong points here.
    • First of all, the moral behind this argument is bluntly “let them all die, it’s good for us” and I’m sure we can all agree it’s not good.
    • Secondly, it has been proved by scientists that when we help children to survive in poor countries, we make the child mortality rates decrease and thus make the birthrates lower. To put it shortly, parents can have only three children when they can trust that their children will survive. So in fact, saving babies’ lives helps the overpopulation problem too.
    • Thirdly, you don’t have to save everybody. Let’s use another example: there’s a fire inside a house and there are ten people inside. You can get only one person out and save him/her. It’s of course a terrible tragic that nine people got killed by the fire, but it doesn’t make that one person’s saved life any less valuable. If you could only help one, you would, wouldn’t you? Plus it’s great in UNICEF’s aid programs that we’re helping as many children as possible at the same time. Most of the help we’re giving is specialist help, which means that we help and give the tools to the local people to educate and protect their children
  5. Find out how. For many organizations you can donate through the Internet. Or waltz to your nearest face-to-face person and ask how you can help through monthly donation programs.
  6. Do it! Feel good about yourself, you’ve helped. And keep helping.

Why me? Because you can and you have hope.

(Not yet inspired? Check out these links and find out more: http://www.unicef.fi/ http://www.unicef.org/ Academic Hans Rosling on global population growth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTznEIZRkLg&feature=relmfu)

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