(The original Finnish version was published in the weekly supplement Extra of the newspaper Turun Sanomat on 8 May 2004.)
Every year the Finnish secondary school students spend one or two days doing real work. This is organized by the schools and Unicef. The students get a little bit of money which they donate for charity. This year the profit shall be given to the poor people of Eritrea. But which is more important, charity or a day off from school?
Sakari Kurronen, 17
We are supposed to get ten euros for one day’s work, which means that staying off from school is expensive fun. Even so, taking a day off is more important to me than charity. Since there are many middlemen on the way, only a small bit of the donated money will eventually reach the poor.
Perhaps less money would ”disappear” if the people who are being helped were somewhere near, like here in Finland. I don’t really know which country will receive our aid this year, but I remember it’s some developing country far away. Of course it would be nice to know what you’re actually working for. I’d rather donate genetically modified maize than rifles.
It’s hard to believe that doing something this small has any clear impact on the Earth and its six billion people. Even if this fundraising were to help to build schools or wells, the speed of the global population growth would just increase. Besides, even one hundred wells wouldn’t change the situation of an entire country.
A day’s work for the sake of charity is involuntary helping, to say it realistically. Those kids who are truly worried about the global issues know how to give some aid without school and Unicef. If I could decide where to donate my earnings, I would make the capital stay in Finland and give it to some very carefully chosen receiver.