Wednesday, 20 January 2010

When Good News goes bad

Here's something that you probably won't find in Stuff magazine any time soon - a solar-powered Bible.

Although it sounds like a new punchline to the old idiom about uselessness (who even uses fireguards anymore?), it's actually a real thing. And the lucky people of Haiti now have one less item to stick on their Christmas list.

If you've been touched by the plight of the Haitians in the aftermath of the Earthquake, you may have felt compelled to donate money and help out in some small way. After all, if it's good enough for Saint Angelina...

But you have to question the logic of Faith Comes By Hearing, a charity based in New Mexico, which has decided that what the people of Haiti need most, is a solar-powered audiobook which can blast the word of God (in Haitian Creole no less) to crowds of 300 at a time.

In the words of 71-year old quake survivor Jacqueline Thermiti, "Of all the wars and revolutions and hurricanes, this quake is the worst thing God has ever sent us." Not quite, wait till she gets her care package from New Mexico.

Try to imagine it - you've lost all your worldly possessions and are relying on a mound of dead relatives to stave off the hungry rats. Wouldn't you prefer that any available money be spent on things like shelter, drinkable water and maybe some food?

Given that insurance companies are happy to lay the blame for earthquakes at the big guy's door, it's bitterly ironic that, according to FCBH, these audio Bibles "offer hope and comfort that comes from knowing God has not forgotten them through this tragedy."

Maybe they're just regular guys who can't resist a shiny new gadget. Perhaps they've got a whole cupboard full of wind-up mobile phone chargers, dancing flowerpots and plasma globes that seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, who could resist something that's "self-powered and can play the Bible in the jungle, desert or ... even on the moon!" Space gadgets - I'll take fifty!

As with all good Bible stories, there's a moral here. If you want to do your bit to help the poor and disenfranchised, try to pick a charity that doesn't come with strings attached. Giving with an agenda isn't really giving at all.

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