Friday, October 27, 2006


It is very disheartening to see people making money out the predicament of others. But to extend such a callous activity to helpless and innocent children is despicably wicked. Sadly though, it happens on a daily basis. At the beginning of this October, Plan International, an NGO based in the UK, started such a villainous programme of child exploitation. It launched a children’s rights campaign as part of the activities marking the 10th anniversary of its existence in Cameroon. The programme, they said, would run for one year through radio broadcasts.

During the launching ceremony, children were paraded in front of the local and international media and encouraged to say whatever they could about their “rights”. Some gave accounts of the suffering they are going through whilst others shyly made simple statements like “I have the right to go to school” or “I have the right to eat”. Plan International is not a new entrant in this humanitarian business. Moreover, they know very well that in spite of their desire and efforts (along with those of a thousands other NGOs) to solve the injustices in society, the situation on the contrary, gets worse and worse.

If, therefore, in spite of the fruitlessness of their efforts to turn the situation around, Plan International and their ilk are still on the scene parading innocent kids in front of TV crews, then there may be some hidden agenda they are pursuing. Now, it is well known that NGOs solicit funds from the wealthy to carry out their activities. They normally draw up project proposals describing the problem at hand, how it can be redressed and at what cost. This proposal is then sent to potential donors who would provide the funds to sponsor the project.

It is this money, given to assist the vulnerable in society, which these volunteers use to pay themselves fat salaries and acquire their four-wheel drive vehicles. Thus, set up in the name of helping victims, NGOs end up enriching themselves at the expense of the victims. Those children in Cameroon who were shown to the whole world are, in reality, victims of the exploitative activities of the wealthy donors. Plan International and co, then come in to throw dust into the public eye and cover up the real cause in return for the crumbs falling from the dining tables of the wealthy donors.

These so-called humanitarians are therefore willing accomplices in the creation of hungry, homeless and deprived children. The organisers of that 10th anniversary celebration in Cameroon are actually exploiting the misery of those Cameroonian kids so that their own children can have the best education, three square meals, decent clothing and comfortable homes to live in.

The hypocrisy in all this diabolical pretence is the fact that the so-called benefactors know only too well that they are addressing the symptoms of a malaise whilst leaving intact the real causes. The plight of these unfortunate children cannot be wished away through radio broadcasts. Many people cannot even listen to such broadcasts as they do not own any sets or they are too busy trying to eke out a living.

The only way that Plan International can ensure that the rights of not just children but the masses of suffering and exploited people of this unjust world (and who also do not have any rights), is to be honest to themselves and humanity. But they cannot as long as they live in this socio-economic system where lies and subterfuge are the order of the day. The driving force behind the relations between people in today’s world is money and profits. Ours is a world in which people’s real needs come a poor second to wealth creation. This is the result of a divided and diametrically opposed society.

We have, on the one hand, the class of owners of wealth. This class, though in the minority, own and control the resources of the world – factories, land, railways, aircraft, the media, etc. As a result of their economic power, they also control over all aspects of life including the debate over human rights. They have an exclusive monopoly over all the rights that one can think of. This is so because “might is right” and they have the might by virtue of their ownership of the means of living. On the other hand, there is the class of have-nots. This class is the disinherited class that owns no property. Members of this majority class are employed to work on the resources of the minority owning class to produce more wealth (profits) for the owners. The workers are then paid just enough wages to keep themselves in a fit enough state to carry on being exploitable Consequently, this poor, ownerless class has limited, if any, rights at all. And the staff of Plan International, if they are reading this article, will confirm the fact that all the children they lined up on that day to demand their rights, were those from the class of have-nots, not the sons and daughters of the rich and powerful. Some of them may have even been orphans whose parents succumbed to premature deaths as a result of the excessive exploitation by Plan International and their masters in the privileged class.

Thus, as long as the sources and means of human existence are owned and controlled by a minority in society, such injustices as the denial of people’s rights will continue to blight our society. It is only when the current social and economic arrangement of society is done away with and replaced with a society of common ownership democratic control that we can have a world where everyone will have equal rights and justice.

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