A few days ago I watched a recorded version of CNN hero
awards. I clapped and sobbed along (yea, I’m emotional like that) as I watched
different Heroes talk about their charities- their inspirations, challenges and
their success stories.
It would have been a perfect romantic afternoon had it not been that I had my younger cousin watch it with me. He kept interrupting my sweet reverie of how the world was becoming a better place with complaints on how most of the winning charities were not qualified to be charities. In his terms, they did not feed internally displaced people or clothe the naked.
He was particularly unimpressed with one of the winners, a bionic woman who helped others thrive after paralysis. That I explained to him that the woman’s charity had helped a man in the audience walk again after a spinal chord injury of over a year was inconsequential. He maintained that Charities were supposed to seek to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and that everything extra to that was not to be considered as charity. Although he never told me the term for such show of extraordinary love from one human to another, I let him win the argument. It was a small price to pay for my sanity.
Charities, I believe, are a means by which good natured humans share advantages with other humans in order to empower, fulfil, strengthen them, and alleviate their disadvantages. Having said that, I understand that based on the major issue in these parts being hunger, sickness and disease most people fail to realize that even the so called middle class are at financial and economic disadvantage. That one is not internally displaced does not mean that the person should not benefit from Charities.
With the understanding that “half bread is better than puff-puff”, I fully subscribe to the school of thought which suggests that giving be channeled, with urgency, to the downtrodden, abused, hungry and sick. However, I do not think this kind of giving should also be done at the expense of the so called middle class. Each succeeding socio-economic class, I believe, should always find a way to take care of its preceding class (es) without the accompanying arrogance that sometimes accompanies giving. I also believe that any one can be the beneficiary of a Charity to forestall the regression into socio economic oblivion.
Enter Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). Founded by its namesake business mogul and former Bank CEO, it is in its 5th cycle of $100M grants to funding entrepreneurs in 54 African Nations. Tony Elumelu Foundation has single handedly made more African millionaires than any other known initiative.
This is the kind of charity that warms my heart. While it may not directly buy bags of rice that will eventually be stolen at IDP camps, it empowers Entrepreneurs in its member countries to own businesses that will pay tax to build infrastructure; employ breadwinners that will send their siblings and children to school to stand a better chance of achieving something better with their lives.
The multiplier effect of these grants cannot be overstated. All of the direct and indirect beneficiaries of this Charity will eventually be able to set up and/or give to charities of their choice that will flood down to your basic feeding of the hungry and clothing the naked. Grants like this also help make sure that families do not slip back to desperate waters of hunger, nakedness and sickness.
So, while you may not understand a Charity or its workings per se, know that the saving of one person by any means possible from a fate of uncertainty of any kind is an honourable thing in itself and should not be taken lightly.
You too can partake of this charity by visiting http://tonyelumelufoundation.org/application-process
See you at the top.