This morning I woke up to the furore of Stacy Dooley being plastered all over the press. Sparkling white teeth, voluminous skin no doubt fresh out of her 5 star hotel whisked to the slums of Uganda for an impromptu photo shoot holding a bewildered Ugandan child. David Lammy the absolute twit of an MP who sparked this debate in the press ironically represents the borough I was born and raised – Tottenham. In my opinion he really needs to shut his mouth because he hasn't helped the people of Tottenham let alone anyone in Africa. He represents one of the most marginalised boroughs in London where poverty does it exist – I’ve seen it. Why isn’t he talking about that?
Despite my disdain for David I had to agree with his sentiments. Why are Charities like Comic Relief flying British celebrities over when they could be getting people from Africa to spark a debate about the very real issues going on? I also concur that it does send “a distorted image” of the continent and perpetuates “an old idea from the colonial era”. To people who don't want to understand the complexities of why he said it, it would have been easier to say this style of fund raising is demeaning and unhelpful. Which ever way you want to address it, the fact still remains that this is poverty porn and POC are uncomfortable seeing this preserved and outdated stereotype of what Africa is as a nation.
We all should know giving to these massive celebrity sponsored charities or should I say corporations doesn’t work. The reason for this is there is too much corruption and greed. The facts are the people who are in need only see a fraction of what was donated if anything. Looking to the recent Oxfam scandal of charity aid workers exploiting young Haitian women for sex – this was only scratching the surface! This whole white saviour complex is a very real thing, sustaining a retold story which I am very surprised the public still buys into. I can also say as a mixed raced woman that I don't see many people of colour who have a platform going out to Africa or any impoverished regions and raising awareness. The 24 hour telefon by Comic Relief raised 55.4 million in 2016, over a billion pounds has been raised since Comic Relief started yet there are still starving children in Africa who don’t have access to clean water, schooling or medical care? Year after year they plead with the good natured public for more funds to whisk entitled British celebrities out to Africa, Asia or wherever the exotic destination they feel should have the spotlight, yet I still see minimal difference. The same replayed images people saw in the seventies of White people holding starving children yet no change? Africa is a resource-rich continent yet have the poorest people ravaged by hunger and disease – the reason again GREED!! Something is clearly very wrong! Don’t even get me started on the government giving out foreign aid, from what I can see there has been no indicative improvement on the people's lives who are supposed to be given these donations. According to the World Bank data global poverty is falling, yet the world’s poorest citizens are living on less than £1.50 a day!?
I am sick to the teeth of people with privilege going out to Africa and pretending they give a shit, standing there holding a child in their designer clothes and wry smiles! Real charity should not be documented. If you want to give to charity do it with some integrity, diplomacy and class. Go and volunteer in your local community, after all we do have starving people in England hence the rise in food banks. If you do decide you are jetting to India, Cambodia or any country in the world marked with abstract poverty and you have a moral compass do some research and go to the source of where you feel you could help.
I was born in 1985 a year after the famed Band Aid single ‘Feed The World’ was released – an era marked by wealthy white celebrities telling us we need to feed the world and let poor Africans know it's Christmas time. Sorry Bono, Bob Geldof and all the other celebrities who I’d like to believe thought they were doing good – all of you need to do one. Most of those celebrities have been found out in recent times to be most self serving whilst pretending to give a shit, most notably Bono! If you don’t know do some research. To me they are the most patronising lyrics probably of all time and yet unfortunately it reminds anyone born into that era, it is in fact Christmas time.
For a while I have been getting more and more frustrated with charities and wannabe do gooders because the majority of the masses are ignorant and blithely unaware that by donating to these charities you are helping rich people get even more rich. Most of us being the willing and compassionate people we are, think nothing of donating to these charities who ram pictures in our faces of starving children with flies covering their faces or a celebrity installing a water pump with a winning smile. These are marketing tactics – don’t fall for it! We are pouring money directly into these fat cats pockets, whilst thinking we are doing good – you are not.
I have worked for an extremely well known charity with plush offices in Central London and I can tell you that the codes and ethics were completely the opposite of what they were showing the public. The tactics they employed in order to gain access to people's money was nauseating and extremely uncharitable. Despite getting a decent salary I left after 5 days, instead I made it my sole aim to give directly to the source where possible.
There are many other scams that have been identified in which charities are benefiting unwitting or wittingly where they can accept ‘donations’ from fraudulent credit cards, engage in money laundering or filter through money from organised crime. I have listed some of these below:
The scam involves a fraudster informing a charity that they will be donating a large sum of money on the condition that the charity sends half of the donation onto another specified charity that is, in fact the personal bank account of the fraudster.
For example, the fraudster will offer the charity £100,000 on the condition that it sends £50,000 to another specified charity in another country. When the charity agrees, the payment to the charity of £100,000 is made using a compromised or stolen credit card. The charity keeps £50,000 of the donation and sends the remaining £50,000 to the other specified ‘charity’s’ bank account. However, it is in fact the fraudster’s personal account. The card issuer identifies that the credit card was compromised and recalls the full amount of £100,000 from the charity. The charity is liable for the full £100,000 sum. The charity has also unwittingly been involved in money laundering.
Other ways fraudsters use donations to abuse charities:
- money laundering – donors can make loans to charities as a means of laundering money, or they can make donations with specific restrictions as to which partner or project is to be funded as a means of transferring funds overseas and disguising the origin of the funds
- proceeds of crime – anonymous cash donations or donations through suspect third parties may be a means of disposing of the proceeds of crime
- tax avoidance/evasion – donors may seek tax relief on their donation while at the same time seeking private benefit as a result of their donation, for example, by insisting that the charity purchase services from an associated company as a condition of the donation
Details of the scams listed above were taken directly from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/be-aware-of-suspect-donations-advice-for-charities