Wednesday, October 19, 2005

When Orphanages Turn Into A Business

I get to listen to at least 5 minutes of radio everytime I get into the car before I start fumbling for my music player. There have been some close calls with road crashes just coz I need my player like a druggie needs his fix.

Anyhoo I caught a glimpse of 5 minutes of commercial audio today, where callers were giving opinions to the morning show hosts on how to make a buka puasa session more interpesting. Well, one of the callers suggested that kids from an orphanage or charity home can come along for the buka puasa and party together with the DJs and listeners.

Want to vomit.

It makes me start to wonder now.

Orphanages are always the excuse for charity.

It's almost synonymous.

Whenever a company needs to boost it's public profile, whenever a service club like Interact or Rotaract want to do something for the community, or an incentive to throw an event or concert (certain % of ticket sales is given to charity) is needed, no hassle, we've got the orphanage to handle it. After all their constantly potrayed as the willing receiver.

No objections of course but think about the orphans themselves.

Maybe it's not cash they need.

Everytime a donation is made, or an event is held in which the orphanage will benefit, the kids have to show up to receive the cheque, buka puasa, smile for the cameras, perform something, play sports, do eye test, yada yada.

Do we even remember that these kids are regular kids who, in the first place, are in the orphanage to pursue a proper education like how peers their age are doing ? Maybe they should just go to school instead of doing PR work ? Are we helping to make it easier for these silent victims of circumstances to fit into society or are we constantly reminding them of who they are by parading them in public ?

I don't know. It's a busy schedule. Such glam lives they must lead. I hear there are rotation batches for which group of kids take turn to "party" at each event. Performance rehearasals, dressing up, getting into the van, there's always some place to go all the time, such itenary, bookings. Somebody's always giving away donations, we sure ain't gonn reject it, but we have to give face and show up. Smile for the cameras so that the press can provide coverage for the doners.

So imagine the management of the orphanage then. The scheduling, making sure the kids are presentable, having facts handy for speeches, co-ordinating the children, coming up with new performances, telling the press how lovely the doners are. Must have a template for that speech by now. We thank Simon Lee for his generous donations that will improve the lives of the children. And on top of that, their duties are to care for the kids. And this is still idealistic, it does sound like there is room for money siphening, say if I was an evil manager.

On the flipside, kids do need to get out.

But I disagree with the parading.

It's the age old issue of how we give away our money because thats the most we're willing to compromise on our comfort levels and we make ourselves feel better because we have done more than nothing. Yet it's like trying to fulfill a rich man's loneliness. "Sad ? Give you money k ? What else do you want ? Not bad already what, money's hard to come by. I helped you already, better than nothing." Right problem, wrong solution.

Well, want to do charity, just collect the money and go over to the orphanage and present the cheque. No need to publiscize live telecast web streaming SMS Faces Magazine and stuff. If you think it leaves room for abuse, then get a signed agreement letter beforehand between the to-be-doner and beneficiary stating how much or how many percentage of total sales of something and get it checked by accountants (or use a third party to carry out the transaction) ? After that, go ahead with the event or whatever then can send the cheque over. Officeboy also can do it for you. The charity organisation can then acknowledge, Press can cover the event in a small heading somewhere, please do mention how the kids' lives will improve specifically (the money goes to new bicycles / I get to pocket the money so if I am happy the kids are happy).

After all, doesn't mean even tho the kids show up at the event the cheque will clear.

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