These past few weeks we have been inundated with images, news, and feedback on the ravages of various natural disasters including, hurricanes, storms, and earthquakes. In some instances, the calamitous loss of life and limb was incurred, whereas, in other instances, the decimation of infrastructure and housing stock was experienced.
The phenomenon of natural disaster demonstrates no affinity for discrimination, whilst impacting upon all walks of life, and territory. The outcome has seen devastation ranging from loss of human life in St Maarten, Cuba, Barbuda and other areas, to 95 per cent infrastructural damage in Barbuda, to untold destruction in many other areas. The impact of these natural disasters is made more challenging as there seems to be no ‘let up’ considering they present one immediately following the next.
This series of disastrous events naturally leads to the outpouring of support and relief efforts aimed at alleviating the hurt, trauma and suffering. The issue remains, as is heard on a number of occasions, people are not clear as to the measures that can be taken to become part of the process to assist. And as a direct result of this, many ‘not for profit’ organisations pop up, that may be utilising the resources collected on administrative and other expenses, with limited getting into the hands that require the support.
The thing is, the majority of people are intrinsically good, and will want to become part of a process to aid their fellow man, particularly in times of great despair. However, there are those who are intrinsically bad, and may utilise the despair of others toward their own end. As a result, I strongly recommend the compilation of a resource listing that can be tapped into for the consistent co-ordination and channelling of resources for these purposes.
Once the organisation which you will be using to channel your relief has accepted same, it is always useful to be appraised of the distribution channels, and end result of such relief – in other words, how many people were actually reached.
I recall recently, when we in Trinidad and Tobago experienced severe flooding, particularly in the Central district, a particular non-governmental organisation (NGO) called SEWA TT, began a food drive in collaboration with a particular restaurant, and what was particularly noteworthy, is that this organisation reported almost on a daily basis on the number of people who were reached and who received a meal. This measure of accountability is exactly what must be encouraged.
There are many similar distribution organisations operating in Trinidad and Tobago including, the Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life (FEEL), Living Water Community, Is There Not a Cause (ITNAC), Network of NGOs among others, as well as hundreds of smaller NGOs that also operate with the best interest of assisting and supporting others in utilising the distribution model. The point is, that giving to and supporting others in their time of need should also be part of a moral mandate measured only by one’s ability and conscience. I say this as there are those who choose to give with the expectation of getting something in return at some future point.
The protocol of giving includes the measure of being selfless, and not anticipating any favours in return. It also includes a measure of humility in positioning. Another very important factor of giving is doing so without judgement of others. In other words, if you choose to give to a cause, do just that – give. Do not give to be thanked, or recognised, or promoted, or publicised, or favoured. Do not give and then judge what others may have given – you never know the circumstance of others.
Nicole Dyer-Griffith writes a weekly column for Business Day.