By JAMES SWANWICK
Introducing you to the family I just sponsored in Guatemala – Jonathan (5), Wendy (11), Kimberly (7 months) and Carolina (4).
In my world, I’m an entrepreneur and TV presenter who lives comfortably in New York City, travels the world and teaches people how to become a journalist.
In their world, Wendy can’t attend school because she has to take care of the kids while their Mom is away at work between 4am and 9pm each day earning US$27.50 a week.
We are about to change all of that.
I travelled to Guatemala over Memorial Day weekend after accepting an invitation from best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi and his charity, Big Task, which works tirelessly to improve the living conditions of hundreds of children there.
It was in the shanty-like town of San Miguel Duenas where I met Wendy and her siblings.
My initial US$250 donation is going to send Wendy to school to get an education, whilst also funding a babysitter for her siblings.
So why do I feel so guilty?
More donations from my friends, family and acquaintances will help renovate their home, turning it from a shanty-like tin roof into a comfortable place they’re proud to call home.
So why do I feel so guilty?
It’s not an easy question to answer.
It’s not easy because part of me feels like the answers reveal me to be somewhat selfish, rather than selfless.
Making their lives better
I’m helping them because I want to make their lives better, yes. But I’m also helping them because it makes me feel good to help them.
I like that people think of me in a positive light because I’m helping them.
I like that I can justify to myself the illusion that suddenly, “I’m a good person” and “I’m generous” and “I’m giving”.
Helping these children satisfies my want and need for doing good.
Am I stroking my own ego?
That’s why I feel guilty. That’s why I feel shades of self-loathing.
Should I get over it and get on with it?
Many say that regardless of the motives of the people giving charity, the fact is that it helps people in need.
And these children are in need.
Therefore, my act of kindness must surely be a good thing, regardless of my intentions and reasons.
Right? Or wrong?
I don’t know.
Why am I writing this?
Well, part of it is a confession. A confession of my troubled thoughts.
The other part is that I want you to feel good about giving, even if you experience just a few of the troubled thoughts I’ve had.
I want you to hit the “DONATE” button at the end of this page and help Wendy and her siblings.
Maybe it’s pointless to judge an action as selfish or selfless.
Focus on the results
Instead, maybe we should just focus on the results.
So while I continue to figure it out in my head, let’s focus on results.
Let’s improve these childrens’ lives.
Ferrazzi took us on a tour of five schools around the Antigua area, an hour outside of Guatemala City.
The living conditions of Wendy’s family are poor.
There are two beds for five people.
Clean clothes are mixed with dirty clothes.
There are no wardrobes.
The backyard doubles as an outdoor kitchen, with little more than a burner to provide cooking.
Stray dogs roam around the home and look painfully thin.
The main thing we need to change is the fact that Wendy does not attend school.
Education is THE most important thing to get these kids out of poverty and into a self-sufficent mindset.
Second, comes living conditions.
The mother makes $27.50 a week.
That’s cheaper than a standard dinner-for-two.
Imagine if 10 of us chipped in $27.50? The $275 would also fund Jonathan’s upcoming education.
And there’d still be money left over to buy the family another bed. Or provide them with clean, running water.
It doesn’t take much. But we can make a huge difference in their lives.
Let’s start by getting Wendy into school.
To help get Wendy into school and help build them a better home, please donate…