I have had many arguments with my mother about how much I donate to charity. She feels she does not have enough money for the household (one of her great stressors), and I feel that if we have enough money to afford food, we have enough to share. And in these arguments, World Vision has always been my paragon of all charities. They make real and important change in the poorest and most desperate places around the world, providing essential aid and important infrastructure to destitute villages and starving children.
Today I was told that was a lie. Darlene, my darling colleague in my social work degree, told me that it doesn’t happen like they say in the information letters. Apparently, the class agrees that World Vision is a particulaly contentious organisation, playing on the ignorance of people through their advertising and seemingly earnest devotion to a good cause. What happens instead is that people fly first class jets, stay in 5-star hotels, drive around in Mercedes Benz with the World Vision logo on the side… In a first hand example, Darlene saw a village in Africa (where she comes from) where the chief bought school uniforms for the children and kept the rest of the money for himself, sending them to school without food.
As I said, I have always considered World Vision a paragon of charities. It has been my idealist dream of a not-for-profit organisation doing everything it could to make the world a better place in the neediest of places. And it turns out all those arguments, all the money I saved and donated, all those other charities I turned down because my money was going to somewhere I thought was more important and would use it better… I find it hard to believe it was all for nothing. I do not know whether it is entirely true that World Vision is, basically, a scam. But I am finding myself doubting them, and myself. Who can I trust now?
Darlene said Oxfam is a good charity for a variety of reasons, so I’ll be redirecting all my funds there. But it just upsets me so damn much. If only the people who could affect other people’s lives could just act decently. It’s a sucky world we live in, but I’m not going to give up on changing it for the better, because damnit, someone has to.