Tagged: debate

WOULD YOU SUPPORT THIS?

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OR THIS?

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*ENGLISH BELOW*

Siden jeg kom til Uganda første gang i februar sidste år, har jeg taget utallige billeder. Bloggen flyder over med billeder af smukke, glade og smilende døve unger. De er min hverdag. Og jeg elsker dem. Men af og til er er her ikke mange smil at spore. Nogle gange fordi børnene savner deres familier. Nogle gange fordi de er sultne. Nogle gange fordi de er trætte. Nogle gange fordi de er syge (som jeg skrev om i mit sidste blogindlæg, så har vi haft ekstremt mange syge børn de seneste uger.) Nogle gange fordi – ja, det kan skyldes hvad som helst. Vilkårerne for både børn og voksne er markant anderledes her end i Danmark og mange andre vestlige lande, men jeg er måske ikke altid så god til at vise bagsiden af de smukke smil. Man vil fx ikke finde et eneste billede af et grædende barn her på bloggen – jeg har aldrig i mit liv taget et billede af et grædende barn. Hvorfor egentlig ikke? Tja, formentlig fordi jeg har mere travlt med at stoppe tårerne end med at dokumentere tårerne *indsæt selv violiner*. Nu er jeg imidlertid her i Uganda for at arbejde – et arbejde der blandt andet går ud på at søge støtte til børnene.

I juli havde jeg besøg fra Danmark. En af mine besøgende har kendt til mit arbejde her lige siden min første dag – vi har faktisk talt ret meget om det. Hun ved, at vi som organisation kæmper for at overleve, og at vi hele tiden søger sponsorer til vores “smukke og smilende børn”. Min besøgende var på skolen i to dage. To dage. Da vi forlod skolen den sidste dag kiggede hun mig i øjnene og sagde; ”jeg vil sponsorere et barn”. Hun var blevet overrasket over at se, hvordan børnene hungrer efter omsorg, kærlighed – og helt basale ting som bedre ernæring. Episoden gjorde ret stort indtryk på mig, og fik mig til at tænke over, om egentlig ikke jeg har spillet fallit med mit arbejde her? Når jeg kun viser børnenes smukke smil og glade ansigter, så skjuler jeg jo på en måde virkeligheden. Jeg skjuler indirekte de akutte behov vi har for mad, medicin etc. Bevares, jeg skriver om det. Men folk kan ikke forbinde det med de smilende ansigter.

Når andre humanitære organisationer søger sponsorer og donationer, viser de da billeder af smilende og glade unger? Næ. Du får et grædende barn med udspilet mave. In your face. De tvinger dig til at tage stilling – de indirekte tvinger dig til at give dine penge ved at udstille virkelighedens til tider barske realiteter. Hvor aggressiv skal man egentlig være i kampen om at skabe bedre vilkår for udsatte mennesker? Man kan vel argumentere, at man skal være præcis så aggressiv, som det er nødvendig at være for at få folk til at handle. Jeg er til tider kendt for mine kyniske og anti-romantiske holdninger, men i mit arbejde med at søge sponsorer og anden støtte er jeg måske alt for gammeldags, romantisk og naiv. Jeg spørger af princip aldrig folk direkte, om ikke de vil sponsorere et barn eller om de på anden vis vil støtte arbejdet her. Jeg vil gerne have at folk støtter af egen fri vilje. Problemet er, at det er meget få folk der siger ”jeg vil gerne hjælpe!”. Måske fordi de allerede har spyttet i kirkebøssen hos en anden organisation med en langt mere aggressiv strategi..

(Jeg har udfordret mig selv og taget et billede af en mut og halvsyg Frank imens han venter på at blive badet. Hans udspilede mave er dog kun en skygge af, hvordan den ser ud i virkeligheden..)

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Since I came to Uganda first time in February last year, I have taken countless of pictures. On my blog there is an overload of beautiful, happy and smiling deaf children. They are my everyday life. And I love them. But sometimes it’s hard to find any smiles. Sometimes because they miss their families. Sometimes because they are hungry. Sometimes because they are tired. Sometimes because they are sick (as I wrote in my previous blogpost, we have had many sick kids the last couple of weeks.) Sometimes because – well, it could be due to anything. The conditions for both children and adults are remarkable different here than in Denmark and many other Western countries, and perhaps I’m not always good at showing the downside of the beautiful smiles. For instance you won’t find a single picture of a crying child on my blog – I have never in my life taken a picture of a crying child. Why not? Well, probably because I am more busy trying to stop the tears than documenting the tears. However, I am in Uganda to work – and among others this work is about seeking  support for the children.

In July I had visitors from Denmark. One of these friends has known about my work since the very first day. We have talked a lot about my work here. She knows we are struggling to survive as an organization, and that we are constantly seeking sponsors for our “beautiful and smiling children”. My friend visited school for two days. Two days. When we left the last day my friend looked me in the eyes and said “I want to sponsor a child”. She had been surprised to see how the children crave love, care – and basic things such as better nutrition. The situation made me think if I have failed at my work here? When I only show the beautiful smiles and happy faces of our children, I am in a way hiding the reality. I am indirectly hiding the urgent needs we have for food, medicine etc. I do tell and write about it, but people can’t link it to the happy faces.

When other humanitarian organizations are seeking sponsors or donations, do they then show pictures of smiling and happy children? No. They give you a crying child with a bloated stomach. In your face. They force you to take action – they indirectly force you to give them your money by exposing you to the reality and the sometimes harsh conditions of it. How aggressive must you really be in the battle of improving the conditions for vulnerable people? One might argue that one must be as aggressive as needed to get people to take action and support. I am from time to time known for my cynical and anti-romantic attitude, but when it comes to this work with seeking sponsors and other support then I might be too old-fashioned, romantic and naïve. Out of principle I am never asking people directly if they want to sponsor a child or in other ways support the work here. I want people to support because they really want to – not because I force them too. The problem is, that it’s very few people who say “I want to support!”. Perhaps because they have already donated for another organization with a much more aggressive strategy..

(I have challenged myself and took a picture of a sullen and weak Frank while he was waiting for his bath. His bloated stomach is however just a shadow of what it looks like in reality..)