The Keeping Hope Alive 让希望活下去 Facebook group and community, an private initiative by Fion Chua, works with the less privileged in Singapore, focusing on helping to provide a better quality of life. According to the group page, they conduct frequent door-to-door knocks are HDB flats to talk to people and look out for those who might need help.
In one of her visits, Ms Chua was shocked to find that an 80-year-old man’s house was filled with food and countless bottles of condiments which were ‘donated’ to the uncle. The photos show many bags of instant noodles all over the kitchen and the floor.
The thing is, Ms Chua noted, the uncle does not cook.
Ms Chua asks in her post, “Are we giving what the recipients need? Or are we giving just to comfort ourselves that we have done a ‘good’ deed?”
Comments on the post echoed Ms Chua’s sentiments, that thoughtful giving should be the gold standard.
One person suggested that voucher might be better while another pointed out that people should take time to find out what kind of help the elderly actually need instead of simply giving for the sake of giving.
One commenter proposed a direct solution to the specific issue Ms Chua pointed out, suggesting that the food in the photos be distributed to those who might need it more.
The comments on this post indicate that this is, unfortunately, a common thread: that many tend to donate without thinking about the needs of the recipient.
But as Ms Chua pointed out, thoughtful consideration of needs is crucial for any gesture of help to be effective. There’s no point in giving and donating if you’re not actually addressing the needs of the person who is supposed to benefit from your kindness.