Critical Visions and Values of Human Helplessness
Humanitarian organizations are organizations which deal with making accessible humanitarian needs to people who are in need. Humanitarian organizations are usually nonprofit organizations meaning that they operate out of good will without intentions of making any profit from their activities. Humanitarian organizations deal with specific needs that people are facing. For example there are organizations that provide aid in different forms to AIDS patients, cancer patients, fighting illiteracy, food, clothing, disaster stricken people among others. Humanitarian organizations gat their funding from contributions by donors, contributions by countries, individual contribution of owner, profits made from affiliate business organizations among many others. Contributions and donations to the organization may be in money or kind form. Kind form involves physical donations which may include food, clothes, drugs and sanitary towels. Many organizations also act as aid avenues. This is where people take their donations and then the organization takes the donated item to a person in need of it.
The organizations must uphold certain principles in their activities. These principles are called the humanitarian principles and they form a guide line for the organizations. The principles are humanity which means that people are to be treated in a manner that does not comprise with their being humans. Impartiality; which means that the organizations should not take sides while dealing with a situation. Humanitarian imperative which specifies that anyone has a right to receive aid. Independence; where the organizations should plan their activities and policies independently from government’s policies. Some of the humanitarian organizations include the United Nations which has several divisions under it to deal with different issues for instance World Health Organization (WHO) which deals with health related issues in the world, World Food Program (WFP ) which provides food to people stricken by hunger. The United Nations higher commission for refugees which provides help for refugees.
The Red Cross society which provides helps to people in times of disasters and St John’s ambulance which provides medical care in times of disasters Icrc (2011). Humanitarian organizations require a lot of funding to run and manage. Because of this reason, they have to lobby for funds from the public. Different ways are used to get the funding. The essay will examine carefully the materials used by humanitarian organizations and their impact.
The humanitarian organizations use different materials for advertising their activities and creating awareness about the pressing issues that need to be considered. Pictorial and diagrammatic representation is one of the most used ways of representing the people in need. Pictures of the needy people are taken and placed in the media or incorporated in their advertisements. This is done in order to create emphasis on the situations that the people are facing. For instance the photographs can show hunger stricken people and show how lack of food has made a bad impact on their health and bodies or the development of an AIDS patient before and after receiving medical care World Health Organization (2011).Photographs appeal more to potential donors since they show the situation as it is.
A photograph in an advertisement appealing for food aid with a photograph of a child suffering from marasmus or kwashiorkor elicits sympathy from the public who in turn contributes towards the concerned organization. However, not all photographs are fit for the media. Some photographs may breach the confidentiality of a person hence creating a crisis. Therefore, it is advisable for organizations to seek consent from the subjects before putting their pictures on the media.
Another way in which the organizations represent the people they seek to help is by use of videos. Videos provide moving images of the people who are in need. The videos may be about the people sharing their plight with the organization or seeking help from the public. Videos create more attention to a situation then most of other mediums used. Videos show the suffering of the needy people and show the first hand experiences that they have to deal with in their day to day life. Some censoring has to be done to materials as it is with the case with photographs so as to get materials exhibiting a great level of ethics and integrity. Another way in which the organizations represent the people is by used of strong and feeling eliciting language. Choosing of words must be done in a professional manner so as to deliver the message to the as strongly as possible to the intended recipients. Figurative language is used yet the content of the message must be retained.
Documentaries and short TV programs are often used by humanitarian organizations. This gives the organizations a chance to give a detailed explanation of the situations that are on the ground that are necessitating the intervention of humanitarian organizations. For instance during the recent hurricanes that have affected America, this method of presenting needy people has been put into use. Various organizations placed the programs on the media so as to enable the world understand fully what was happening and the extent of need that the people affected were. During the war in several war torn countries of the world, documentaries on the situations on the ground are always used to express to the world on the occurrences which have put the people at need. Slogans are frequently used by organizations to present the needy people to the public. Slogans usually contain messages that are catchy and usually repeated many times so as to drill in the message into the minds of the public. However, visual material appeals more to the intended audience than any other form of material used. This explains the extensive use of photography and videography by the humanitarian organizations. The same methods are used to present the people from whom the organizations seek support from. Daily lives of normal people who are enjoying life in surplus are always put into limelight by the materials the humanitarian organizations use in order to seek support. Videos, photo graphs and written a material have always been the choice materials for the presentation of possible supporters.
Whichever method of representing the people to the public the following must be met in the materials that the organizations use. First the message must be ethical. It must not be offensive to people and must always be scrutinized before it is released to the public. The material must be catchy. It must catch the attention of the intended audience and have the capability of prompting action from the audience.
The needy people are presented as needy by the humanitarian organizations, nothing less of that. They are presented as sad and depressed people. This elicits sympathy from the audience of the material hence prompting action from them. The level of helplessness of the people requiring aid is sometimes exaggerated by the organizations but this is with the aim of prompting action from the public. Images of the people after receiving aid are always used to create a feeling of the great deed one does by helping change the life of a person by availing one’s aid. These images also show the gratitude that the recipients of the aid will have after getting aid. The success of the campaign by the humanitarian organization depends on the way they present the people requiring aid for this reason; they always ensure that they drive the point home by presenting the situation as it is on the ground.
The humanitarian organizations show the possible supporter as a person who is living a normal life. Eating well, sleeping well and doing all the things in a normal routine but who is ignorant of the people who are suffering. The humanitarian organization’s material compares the lives of the sufferer and that one of the targeted supported and shows the impact that would be made by one extending a helping hand to needy people. This often creates a sense of responsibility in the targeted supporter and makes him/ her feel that he has an obligation to help a fellow human being. The materials by the humanitarian organization always leave the to be supporter in a state of shock as his /her eyes are opened to see the suffering of fellow human beings.
Materials that show the people who require aid are often structured in a way as to elicit sympathy from the targeted supporters. They use words and images that attract sympathy from the audience and the choice of words is normally very selective. Words which emphasize on the situation of the needy person are often used in order to ensure that the message does not bypass the targeted audience. The tone used on the materials to talk about the sufferers is pleading and aims at beseeching the audience to take action and support the organization’s campaign to lobby support to cater for the needy in the society.
The materials used by the humanitarian organizations when they are seeking support compares and contrasts the lives of the needy people to the life of a person who is living a normal life without any big problems to deal with. The suffering life of a needy person is shown on one side. Hunger, sickness, illiteracy and other needs that are targeted by the humanitarian organization are always shown on the images of the materials and if possible on the faces of the victims. A picture that shows the state of AIDS victims lying on a bed, thin, and showing great pain will show the pain and agony that AIDS patients undergo and will prompt people to support organizations intending to support the patients. The materials will always portray the sufferer as helpless and very needy.
The people whom support is being sort from are portrayed as people who are ignorant about the suffering of their fellow human being. Great concern is attached to the manner in which they live happily enjoying life to the fullest without taking time to act upon the suffering of their fellow human beings. Although giving to charity is not a must, the materials used by the humanitarian organizations push them to supporting the organization. The manner in which they show the to be supporter is not pleasing and for him/ her to change from the bad image, he/she donates to ‘cleanse’ his conscience. At the end most materials place the two people on one frame and leave it to the public to compare the different situations and life styles that are exhibited by the contrasting images. In so doing, they are able to win support.
Images on the materials are often presented in color so as not to leave out the finer details of the intended message World food programme (2011).. Texts are presented in bold and fancy fonts so as to attract attention to the readers. Documentaries and videos are properly edited so as to ensure that the key details are captured. Voices of special people for example religious leaders are included in the materials so as to emphasize on the situation at hand. Emotions like pity and guilt are imparted o the audience of the material hence making them support the organizations which are working towards helping the people highlighted in the material.
In conclusion, it is not possible to figure out who is needy or not by just looking at materials whose sources are not known. Therefore, there are measures and regulations taken by different authorities to scrutinize humanitarian organizations whose activities are not trustworthy. It is the definition of helplessness of a needy person that brings the difference in opinions among different organizations. However, the united nations do raise the alarm on issues that need humanitarian aid hence prompting humanitarian organizations to act. Humanitarians should always uphold the humanitarian principles. Cases of fake organizations who steal from the public in the context of helping needy people are on the rise and the registration of organizations should employ all the available intelligence to register only genuine organizations. According to The rotary club (2011) various strategies are used but the organizations to look for funding e.g., advertisements, fundraising, walks and runs among others .humanitarian organizations cannot be underestimated as they help redeem the lives of many people.