Monday, November 18, 2013

Will you give to the relief effort in the Philipines?

When disaster strikes in any country in all of its ugly forms, people in other countries put their hands in their pockets. The inevitable outcries follow along the lines that a good deal of this money is siphoned off into the greedy hands of corrupt officials and business people. This has always been so and before we scream out in anger, we should resist the urge to ‘not give.’ The Philippines have been through a terrible storm and have a long way to go before life returns to its fragile normal.
Phillipinos are scattered all around the globe and the money send back to their families represents a major part of the economy. If it were not for that huge contribution, the economy would look decidedly worse. These same people will no doubt dig deeply into their pockets, yet again and along with other contributors play a massive part in getting the Philippines back on to its feet.  
However, ex-pats are becoming very wary of giving in the light of recent publicity of corruption that has featured in the media, relating to large amounts of money being funnelled into the hands of those who it was most definitely not intended. This, after the President promised to make fighting corruption a major part of his policy. Of course the Philippines are not alone in this ‘affliction. I doubt there is any country on earth that is completely free of Governmental and private sector corruption in some form or another. It is just that a large number of countries seem to have it as an endemic factor in everyday life. The Philippines have made some progress and a recent survey found that many people believe that the country has made some important gains in the fight against corruption.
This still leaves many ex-pats and other well-wishers reluctant to give large amounts of hard earned money, unless they can be sure that it is targeted at those who need it most. Now that the reconstruction is slowly getting underway, it is the contractors who need to be watched as they attempt to overcharge and engage in other nefarious behaviours, all meaning that the people most affected miss out.
How can we be sure that this will not occur? We can’t---totally, but giving to agencies who are known to be upfront and careful re distributing aid where it is needed is a good start. It is when politicians and business establishments get involved that the leakage occurs, so give to those agencies like World Vision who keep a tight hand on where the money is going, is maybe the best way. At the same time, be aware of people posing as ‘collector’ or agencies tasked with a one-off organization, unless you want to line the pockets of unscrupulous people. Don’t stop giving; just be careful about who to give to. If you don’t know where to start, contact one of the TV stations in New Zealand (if you are a Kiwi, reading this) and they will know who to suggest as a starting point. They may even do a news item, based on accurate research about the agencies best placed and with the cleanest record.
Let’s help the Philippines!