I received an email at work yesterday encouraging me to go and support a ‘celebrity’ football match today that involves members of our company (and presumably others) versus some minor notables like fringe politicians and ‘D’ list celebs. The purpose of the event, apparently, is to raise funds for a blind guy who fell from the metro platform and was hit by a train.
Now. Once I got past the “poor guy” reactions I was left wondering yet again about the strange way charity works here in Poland and also with a few questions nobody around me could answer. My initial assumption was that this chap either worked for our company or was a well known ‘nice guy’ but it seems not, he’s just the latest lucky winner of media attention.
I would have thought it was fairly obvious that a metro station is one of the places that for blind people can be incredibly dangerous. A bit like crossing the road only worse. One would assume therefore that this person knew that and should have taken appropriate precautions – stick, dog, helper, whatever. If the design of the metro station was in some way to blame, is not friendly to those who are visually challenged, then the funds should surely be going toward measures of improving this for all blind people. If the design is fine but this person was either reckless or unlucky then why do we make a special case to give him money and not other unlucky or unfortunate folk who might possibly avoid metro stations as a sensible precaution?
This is the same sort of pot-luck charitable giving approach that you see on TV. There are many programmes that focus on one family or person in need, give details of their plight and then provide an account number into which it is expected people will transfer funds. As far as I can tell, the people highlighted definitely do need help but are no different from what I’m sure amounts to many others in the same or similar unfortunate position.
I find this focus on a few lucky individuals very strange. Certainly it helps the few chosen ones but it seems to my mind a very unfair way of dealing with these issues. Perhaps it is my British sense of fairness that is offended by giving to one and not to others? Perhaps I have become too used to ‘institutional’ charities, the Royal this, the National that? Poland does have some widespread organised charities but, with the possible exception of the Polish Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej, how many people know they exist or how to donate?
Or is this something about the Polish psyche, that money can be given to well defined individual cases but not to organisations?
I’m not supporting this football match because I don’t think it is fair, nor do I think it is going to address the underlying issue of serious injuries in the metro (if there is such an issue). In a rather absurd way, there is even the possibility that picking on only the most newsworthy unfortunates might actually encourage those desperate enough to do silly things themselves. Nevertheless, many other people will turn out today and donate happily to help this poor guy on his way to, hopefully, a full recovery. There’s nowt as queer as folk!