Do TV fundraisers help or dehumanise?

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If you have been watching local television, you might have noticed the mushrooming of programmes on some stations that are said to fundraise for people suffering from various maladies. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

If you have been watching local television, you might have noticed the mushrooming of programmes on some stations that are said to fundraise for people suffering from various maladies. 

The presenters of these programmes parade teary mothers of autistic children, old women suffering from painful tumours, hungry, ragged, homeless children without parents or guardians and so on. 

In a nutshell, they allege to solve the problems of the suffering and request that you send money to help.

While the intentions of the presenters sound noble (they mention the name of God a lot), I wonder why they have to display the suffering so blatantly. 

Why, for instance, do they have to parade an innocent autistic child to the public without wondering what could be going on in the mother’s mind? And does anyone who needs help have to see the painful wounds that have afflicted the victim?

A fundraiser that is trending in one of the stations features a middle-aged woman whose fingers are withering and then falling off. By Sunday, November 6, she had lost four fingers and was explaining that she risked losing another four. 

Dehumanising

Considering the programme is hosted by a university lecturer, one would expect his methods of information-gathering to be different from what we are used to in other stations. Yet the questions he asks his guests are awfully dehumanising to them.

First, he spends too much time asking the woman what she thinks she could be suffering from. Surely, she’s not a medical practitioner and, therefore, obviously wouldn’t know what she could be ailing from. 

The comments from the viewers vary: Some say it might be leprosy and that it can be treated for free in a government facility. To this and similar comments, the don says: “We will find out.” 

And you wonder why he had not considered this option before commencing to raise funds for his guest!

Secondly, and most painfully, the comments by the interviewer and some of the viewers are utterly callous. Hear this:

“Are you sure that you’ve not been bewitched?”

“Is this not a curse that you need to talk to your family about?”

For me, the most agonising comment came from a judgemental viewer who texted this message: “Hautawahi gusa kitu ya mtu mwingine tena! (You’ll never steal again!)”

These presenters take too much time asking repetitive questions but constantly reminding viewers to send their donations. The amount that is required, or eventually raised, is never mentioned.

Why are they allowed to do this? Aren’t these the kind of interviews that could give the suffering a mental breakdown? Aren’t there more humane ways of assisting the suffering?

Naftaly Kinuthia, Nairobi

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