The Sunday News
There was a programme on ZTV called Ingalo zomusa. I’m not sure if it’s still showing. It used to show stories of people who needed charity for all sorts of problems. They once ran a story about a severely disabled child who needed a wheelchair, medical treatment and other forms of assistance.
Another time they aired the story of a baby who needed an operation but the parents could not afford it. They would put account details on the screen for those who might have wanted to donate. I have always wondered just how much was raised through that platform.
I’ve come across a few stories on social media, of people asking for donations for all sorts of causes. Most are for help with hospital bills for cancer victims and those in need of operations. People can usually donate to these causes via EcoCash. Again I wonder, do people ever get the assistance they need?
There were floods last year that devastated many areas across the country. Tsholotsho seemed to have been the most affected because newspapers led with stories of how helicopters had to go and rescue the people and stories about donations received for the flood victims as they had to be relocated after their homes were destroyed. I heard many people accusing certain prominent people of not donating and others mocked the type of donations others had given. I think the former president Robert Mugabe donated jiggies (corn smacks) among other things and people laughed their lungs out that a whole president had donated that. I wonder what the critics themselves had donated to the victims.
During graduation season in South Africa, social media was awash with requests from young black South Africans for help with clearing their university fees arrears so they too could graduate. I was touched by the charitableness of ordinary black South Africans on Twitter who cleared account after account of students with arrears. The students would post their university account number and benefactors would deposit their donation straight into that account, leaving very little room for donated funds to be misused.
I have also seen South Africans post on Twitter asking for help for their neighbours in need of wheelchairs, friends in need of money to settle medical bills and all sorts of problems. Basically, what they do is identify someone with a problem and appeal to others on Twitter to help. I have seen people donate crutches, blankets, food, money from as little as 20 rands to thousands of rands. Right before my eyes, on a platform mostly used for fun and games I have seen people’s lives being changed.
A young lady once posted that she had had to humble herself and ask for help as she was pregnant and jobless and needed second hand clothes in preparation for her unborn baby. Several people jumped at the chance and offered her everything from baby strollers to diapers, brand new and used clothes and all sorts of things.
In readers’ digest magazines, there used to be pull out forms on which readers could subscribe to donate a certain amount monthly to charities of their choice. One could pledge to give 10 pounds monthly to a children’s charity or to HIV research or anything they wanted. I suppose that is how international NGOs raise funds.
I also remember how we’d hear of American children donating money to children in Africa. Several funds were set up that other children could donate to, to help feed a child in a developing country. I’m sure this means that giving to charity is something some societies teach people right from childhood.
This has me wondering . . . just how charitable are Zimbabweans? I am yet to hear stories of people around me who have developed the culture of donating to charity. Most of us have wardrobes overflowing with clothes we never wear but it never crosses our minds to donate those clothes to the less fortunate.
Most of us are poor, at least that is the excuse we give, but charitableness is not only for the wealthy. It is a character that anyone in whatever circumstance must be keen to develop. A charitable beggar will receive a box of chicken and chips and share with the homeless person who shares the street corner with him but an uncharitable one will hog the food and claim he cannot give because he’s too poor. It is not about what you have, but about how much sympathy or love you have for the next person.
Some of us know child headed families right in the middle of our communities but we have never even donated so much as a $1 packet of pads to the young girls in that family because life is tough. Shame on us. We know widows who are raising grandchildren on nothing but isitshwala and sugar water but we cannot even give 100ml of oil from our 2l bottles because hey, life is tough. Shame on us!
I have 2 pairs of school shoes in my house that my daughter outgrew in just under a year. They are still as good as new. Yet there’s a child out there walking barefooted in this terrible winter because her guardian cannot afford school shoes. Shame on me!
If 1 million of us pledged to donate $1 every month we would have a million dollars to solve all our social problems ourselves. Imagine what we could do with $5 per person. We could build our own schools. Drill our own boreholes, build our own hospitals and raise our own standards of living.
The time may have come for Africa to stop looking East or West or North or South for solutions but to look inside ourselves and make baby steps towards solving our own problems. They say charity begins at home, so how about you look around you and see what you can give to someone you know who needs help. Once that is done, how about we pool our resources together and get ourselves out of this poverty that no one seems to be interested in getting us out of.