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Monday, 18 May 2015

DONATING TO CHARITY

I'm sure all of us have been appalled at the two recent earthquakes in Nepal. It was heartening at KYUEM to see how quickly our students rose to the challenge and through clubs and societies such as MUSCOM, immediately started raising money for the relief effort.

More than four years ago, a teaching colleague of mine informed me that his wife was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer and had launched an online appeal to raise money for research into ways of dealing with the disease. Moreover, despite her illness, the chemotherapy and the stress, she was intending to make a sponsored run to raise both cash and awareness. Of course, Helen and I, like many other friends contributed, and a few months later, despite what had seemed an initially gloomy prognosis, she was pronounced cancer-free. Today, four years on, I received an email from her husband to say that she is running again this year, raising money for those cancer sufferers less fortunate than she has been. We have been proud and happy to contribute once more.

Giving money to what we consider to be a good cause, has always seemed to me to be a highly personal decision. We are, no doubt, all familiar with the old saying "Charity begins at home." I know of many people who are more than happy to contribute to a charity that operates in their home town or nearby, but are less convinced of the efficacy of sending cash overseas. To an extent, this is due to some high profile scams in recent years, which have purported to be charities. I'm sure we've all received messages in our in-boxes from some Nigerian prince or other, who wants to give us a million dollars if we help him out in a bogus philanthropic scheme.

Fraudulent practices such as this (I believe the technical term for them is "phishing") have dealt a heavy blow to genuine charities and you have to wonder at the morals and ethics of people who are trying to cash in on other folks' basic goodness and humanity. It would be a terrible shame if contributions to highly worthwhile causes dried up because doubt and cynicism had taken hold among those who would previously have donated willingly.

Consequently, I am reminded of Oscar Wilde's definition of a cynic. S/he is a person who "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." There is very little cynicism among the wonderful students at KYUEM. At such times, I am particularly impressed with the idealism and sense of duty prevalent among our young people. They set an example to us all in their sincere desire to make the world a better place; indeed, in their belief that it is possible to make it so. I hope that they never lose that sense of wanting to give something back. They honour us all.

I type these lines as we approach the midway point in our CIE examination schedule for 2015. I wish all our candidates, juniors and seniors both, every success in the exams they have taken or have yet to take.

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