Today, I want to talk about charity.
I haven't mentioned Japan on the blog yet, because I wasn't really sure how to talk about it. The disaster has made me think a lot about various things, and it's only now that I feel I can write about it. Also, I don't want anyone to think I don't care. In fact, scratch that, I don't really care if you want to think that. I know I care, and I've donated to the relief effort, so think what you want.
I donated to the Red Cross Japan disaster relief fund, however now after having read various articles on the internet I regret doing this. Why? Japan is a country with a very stong economy, and for the most part, they can probably afford the majority of the relief work themselves. Even if they do need charity relief, currently, it appears that most charities aren't really sure of what they'll be putting the money donated towards.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't donate. Just do it slightly differently. Instead of donating to a specific disaster relief fund for Japan (or any other disaster actually), donate to the charity/NGO directly, allowing your donations to be used wherever they are most needed. If you donate to a specific fund, the money gets stuck there. Money donated specifically for Japan, if it isn't used there immediately, cannot be used to help the victims of any other disaster which may occur in the coming weeks/months. Donating money "generally" does not mean it definitely won't be used to help Japan.
You may have noticed that I've created a little banner/button and put it in my sidebar. This originally linked to the British Red Cross Japan fund page, but now I've changed it so it links to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders.) MSF never asks for money for one particular disaster, so that none of their funding is ever "locked up" and not available for use when it is most needed. MSF was able to mobilise extremely quickly after the Haiti earthquake last year because they had enough funds available for use anywhere.*
(* I read this information on a blog somewhere, but I can't find it again now. So sorry for the slight plagiarism, but I feel in this case it's hardly an issue.)
So please, donate what you can, but remember that Japan is not the only place where relief work is needed right now. At any one time aid organisations are helping in dozens of countries across the world. Just because places are not in the news doesn't mean they don't need help. (I'm not saying don't donate to the Red Cross/any other organisation asking for funds for Japan, I'm saying donate generally, and make sure you selct the option for your donation to be used anywhere it is needed.)
You may not have donated anything yet, for exactly the reasons I have mentioned above. Japan probably doesn't need huge amounts of help, and is more likely to get most of it from the governments of other countries than from anywhere else. However, this isn't an excuse to avoid the issue of charity altogether. As I said, there are dozens of countries across the world where help is needed on a daily basis. Crises such as drought and food shortages in parts of Africa, to name but one example, have been going on for so many years that they are seemingly no longer news worthy. But the suffering of other human beings is not something that we should be able to apply an "out of sight, out of mind" rule to. If you haven't donated anything to charity this year, I think you should take a good, hard look at yourself. I know it's difficult to think about the amount of suffering in the world, it makes everyone feel sad and brings up uncomfortable questions as to how we in the developed world can allow such things to happen whilst we lead selfish and materialistic lives. However, this is a fact of life, and something everyone should think about. If we ignore the issues, the situation will never improve, and millions of people will continue to suffer and die unnecessarily. (Thinking about this has made me question my role as a "fashion blogger", and the materialism involved, but that's something for another time.)
I don't believe that anyone reading my blog is so destitute that they can't afford to donate 5, 10 or even 50 pounds to help other people. Instead of going on a Primark shopping spree for things you don't really need this weekend, donate the money instead to help people who really need it,
be it the people of Japan, or someone dying in a tiny village in a place you've never even heard of.
Thank you for reading.