Research before you donate

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When people think of heroism, they probably first think of superheroes in Marvel or DC movies. Maybe they even think of life-saving professions like firefighters or doctors. All of these bring to mind the action of saving and helping people in need. 

An act of heroism we perhaps don’t think so much of is donation and foreign aid. While these bring to mind the happy feeling of helping out others, unfortunately, there are sometimes negative sides to these intended good deeds.

A prime example of good intentions gone bad is the continuous aid provided for the country of Haiti, after the devastating earthquakes that took place in 2010. There was a huge influx of aid sent to Haiti, and many countries began sending huge amounts of donations, including the United States. 

While it’s heartwarming to see many people volunteer to help out another country in need and to spend their own money to send donations, the part where these heroic gestures turn a bit sour comes up when you learn that Haiti is still receiving tons of donations. What’s the matter with that, you may ask? Due to the uninterrupted donations, Haiti is receiving, its economy is suffering drastically, especially its agricultural economy. 

In a Haitian town by the name of L’Artibonite, farmers are starting to suffer due to their living of growing and selling food such as rice being interrupted by the increase of foreign food aid being sent to Haiti.

Instead of “lazy” donations, the donations that should be given to countries like Haiti should be ones that can truly help them in the long run instead of only the short term.

In 2015, the TOMS shoe company decided to donate a free pair of shoes to Haiti for every pair they sold. However, while this sounds like a helpful and great idea, it was actually terrible for shoe businesses in Haiti. Because people in Haiti were being given free pairs of shoes, businesses trying to sell shoes in Haiti suffered immensely. 

Instead of donating free objects, the donations that should have been given are fundings that could help build nice new buildings for shops or perhaps build new machines for creating shoes. While wanting to help poverty-stricken places is good, we shouldn’t perceive the poor as completely helpless.

A good example of a long term foreign aid includes the International Development Association’s project to help better India’s dysfunctional water systems to help provide safe, drinkable water to the rural areas of India.

In poverty-stricken countries, while object donations can help out for a short period of time, what would really be beneficial for the country would be funding that could help them build up their economies and countries.

Donating and foreign aid may be backed by good intentions and a drive to help others, but sometimes helping people can have the opposite effect if you’re not careful enough. This isn’t an idea to make you turn yourself away to the idea of donating. Donating is still a good way to help others and is usually spurred by good intentions.

But more good could be done if we all decided to be a little more careful and to pay more attention to how our aid exactly helps others.

Just be more thoughtful about what you’re donating to, and do some research to follow up on how exactly you’re helping others.