First, let me ask you a question: When was the last time you committed yourself to any charity work? The answer is probably that you cannot remember.
Why is it that Arab societies have the poorest records of human solidarity? I am unaware of any valid reasons for this phenomenon but surely, it is a combination of family, education, social environment, and personal experiences.
This is the very question that I had posed to a number of high school students, as well as a question concerning the concept of charity work. Of course, the answers were as shocking as much as they had been disappointing considering the degree of humanity demonstrated in our daily lives. Noticeable was that the majority of students who believe that donations are enough charity. This propels us to ask another question; to what extent have ethics been overridden by materialism at the expense of emotion?
Exactly two years ago, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz was pictured visiting poverty stricken districts. There were some who were shocked by the existence of such underprivileged places however, the majority of us realize the widespread reality of such areas in many parts of our world.
Once again, why have the youth not volunteered to visit these slums, help clean them, repaint their walls and assist the disadvantaged who live with no support? Why do we settle for one moment of sadness when we can actually help?
Firas El Belheed, a 17-year-old student in Riyadh says, "The way in which parents raise their children, as well as social environment are two factors to which the absence of such initiatives should be attributed, in addition, the weak sense of initiative in the mind”s of youths. For instance, if I and a group of friends decide to go to clean one of the poor slums, the number of those who would want to participate will eventually diminish."
Magdal El Qahtany, a high school student, said that the most recent charity work that he had taken on was distributing religious pamphlets and offering food for fasting people. He said, "Charity work is mainly that which is done regardless of the personal rewards for actions such as distributing religious pamphlets and tapes that could be of great use to people in their lives and the hereafter."
The truth is that these youngsters are not the only ones responsible for the lack of awareness of charity work and its many fields. Many institutions of society, medical institutions, social institutions and charitable organizations share the responsibility.
What kind of skill does a young person need look after elderly patients in hospitals with small tasks? What makes summer camps unable to designate two hours a day from their programs for visiting orphanages and special needs centers? What makes the youth of every district refrain from volunteering to clean city walls, repaint them and purge them of graffiti? What makes genuine humane actions remain deep in people”s hearts rather than appear as a celebrated action in Saudi society?
Nothing in the world could compare to the grateful smile of the less advantaged. Even donating hundreds of thousands of Riyals does not compare to the sharing of one”s pain or listening to their troubles.
* An article that tackled youth”s opinion regarding contemporary issues.