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Why don't men do charity?

10 November 2014, 08:09 Anton Marshall

Nairobi - A large part of my life is spent being a musician, doing musician things. And I spend a significant part of that time socialising with other entertainers and musicians, telling stories, pitching projects and panicking.

It just so happens that many of those entertainers and musicians are male – for the purpose of this article, let’s say 'men'. And that, in the context of the rest of my story is important.

I had a wonderful day the CTICC recently, when I volunteered some time for the Santa’s Shoebox collection weekend.

Santa’s Shoebox is an initiative whereby ordinary folks can sponsor a shoebox for a child providing not only a Christmas gift, but also some very basic necessities that the kids may not be fortunate enough to have.

The Cape Town chapter of this global project is run by a number of very driven and committed people, and they are supported by a corporate and business partners, and importantly, a large group of volunteers come collection weekend.

But there is one aspect of the experience that stubbed my awareness bells; while there were probably a few hundred of us volunteers carrying, tagging, checking and packing boxes, there was a notable absence of men on the floor. And this got me thinking.

The nature of social projects probably are such that people connect via their circles of friends. And if such is the case, maybe it is reasonable to assume that since most of the organising unit of the group are women (or, to be more correct – female-identified), the awareness and path through which the project has grown has been through their friends and their friends and so on.

It is reasonable to assume that for many, social circles are slightly biased toward our own gender, as for example my musicians circle may well be. And so, a fair amount other women volunteering is not surprising.

But the project is by no means a closed group. So it still baffles me that so few men (I met four carrying boxes with me), were present – at least at my shift.

I don’t want to get into exploring the anatomy of charity projects or social programmes here, but in the spirit of expansion and embrace, this is what I’ll be doing to try to fix what I see as a little imbalance in the makeup of the day:

I’m going to challenge all my personal musician friends – male as they may predominantly be – to get their butts in gear and be present at the next collection day.

There’s no reason not to do it, and the next time I find myself in a massive auditorium indirectly making some child’s life better for even a day, I’d like to think that I was part of much more diverse group of people making it happen.

Of course, the point I’m trying to make is this: We aren’t always aware of how homogenous our circles of interest or friends may be. But when the opportunity arises, they are something to be exploited in a positive way.

It would be bad for Santa’s Shoebox (and other such projects) to be seen as primarily women’s indulgences. And I assure you they are not.

We need to come to the party, and the way we do that is through, well, bringing the rest of the party. This is my commitment to the next round of whatever is happening. For the men reading this (I know you are), I hope you feel the same way.

 - Women24

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