Thursday, November 17, 2011

I am in a fix, requests pour in. I want to help, how should we proceed?

Most of the requests for assistance, both common and individual are difficult to comply with, but it is impossible to refuse these requests point blank on the grounds that expectations when dashed creates angst amongst our citizenry no matter how far-fetched or outrageous the demands are.

I am not a charity, I am merely an enabler trying to fulfill people’s cries for help, by prioritizing them, and directing them where possible, so that already existing structures can assist where as in others just a token contribution may suffice. In others we have to direct parliamentary questions as to why certain basic facilities have not been provided, and try to get the government involved in solving some of the pressing problems of the day, which we in opposition with few resources can even hope to solve. We can only bring to the attention of those who can help.

A teacher from a Madya Maha Vidyalaya keeps calling me wanting us to fund a ‘Two-day leadership program for the final year students’ of the school. He has worked out the cost at Rs50,000 but in our opinion he is grossly underestimating it, if it is to be done properly will cost around Rs100,000. There is no proper written plan as to how and what is to be contained in this program. In my opinion we must also decide what programs we are willing to assist with, as it is impossible to undertake all projects which we are asked to assist.

Education is woefully short of funds. Programs have to be privately financed as they are not within the purview of the Education Department. There are needs, some are indulgences of priests, they hope the faithful will lavish on them. We must prioritize who we help by identifying our main goals as it relates to serving the community, and direct assistance to achieving them, but ensure that there are sufficient financial contributions from the grassroots, who should take ownership of these programs as it is the people who live amongst them who benefit from them most and I believe anything provided on a plate is not valued by the recipients.

We in Sri Lanka have created a culture of dependence to which all politicians past and present shoulder blame. Weaning them out of this can only be done gradually once they realize what is realistic and what is not. Further the level to which social service is an integral part of a politician’s life is not appreciated by those not so involved in this field. It is therefore very hard to be an honest politician who wants to get power to make a difference, as he does not have the wherewithal that a dishonest one has to fulfill this long list of wants. Power is the only way we can make a difference to the lives of our fellow citizens, if we are NOT philanthropists.

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