Friday, March 1, 2013

Money makes the world go around?

Yes, financial aid is needed – I don’t think people can completely argue with that but is it the main solution? Arguably no. I can only talk of my own experience here in Sandema; mainly because our internet is pants so any sort of research is a no go but personal experience is more interesting anyway isn’t it?

We have now travelled to meet 13 chiefs in each of the Builsa districts; we’ve spoken to disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), women’s groups and schools. The one thing they all have in common? Their need for financial aid whether, it’s a dam, footballs, assistive devices or school uniforms, each and every group spoken to expressed a want or need for something material. I cannot disagree that all these things are needed, I also believe they would improve the lives of people who requested them but there is an argument for the power of speech; the power of knowledge. CBR, over the past few years has worked to set up these meeting groups and organisations where people can talk to each other and discuss their problems, this may be livelihood or health or depression, anything, a lot of these things can be improved just by talking and knowing you are not alone.

I look at our involvement in Kadema, as mentioned in a previous post the DPOs in Kadema were, for the first time, included in the local Feok festival. This didn’t cost any money, there was no financial aid given but this opportunity meant the inclusion into society for a group that has previously always been ignored. They were given an opportunity to showcase their crafts and in doing so improve their income. A proud moment for everybody involved, and nobody was required to pay for the experience. Enough of the dream world though, realistically money makes the world go round – money was needed for the implementation of the festival and was also needed for transport to get people to the Feok grounds. It’s a vicious cycle of needing something that isn’t always the answer.

Do people depend on and expect aid even if it’s not needed? We spoke to each group and clearly explained we are a research based project, we have no money to give and all we have to offer is our time and our findings. Each group still, in turn made their pleas for financial help and assistance. The children that live near us often ask for water, one girl even took a sneaky peak in our fridge and demanded mango. Are these people chancers? Do they believe us when we say we are just researching? Have people now begun to expect things off every NGO that walks into Ghana? I don’t know.  

We recently accompanied a screening in Bachonsa to try and determine and identify the early signs of disability in over 200 children. The eye specialist became quite irate with the headmaster upon handing out her umpteenth bottle of eye drops for eye infection. Why do these children not wash? It was the endless amounts of dirt in the children’s eyes that were causing these infections; these are so easily prevented if someone would just tell these children to wash! I’ve got a bit off track as I always seem to with these blogs but my vague/sitting on the fence point still stands. Yes, financial aid is key to ending global poverty but no, I don’t believe it is the single most important component in doing so, throwing money at charities can be a waste, having too much money thrown at some of the larger projects can be counter-productive. I see the fantastic work CBR does on such small funds and I can’t help but believe that passion and hard work is the main thing keeping CBR running and the main element in helping their clients.

- Poppy

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