Haresh and I rang up Save the Children's hotline for donating 2 pounds a month to save dying children in Africa. We've always been pretty offended by these ads (we've had the chance to see them on some channels on offer on DSTV back in Liberia) and, since we're here in the UK, we thought we should complain.
"Why do you use such harrowing, undignified images of children to collect money?" "Why are you perpetuating this narrative of Africa?"
We managed to be quite articulate and composed while making our complaints. The lady on the hotline referred us to the head office number somewhere in London and, we were explained that the parents had given consent to which we retorted, "Of course they had!" The person on the phone explained that not only did they have consent of the parents but these ads were made in consultation by marketing companies and were, all legal. Moreover, they managed to collect quite a lot of money through these ads and, also targeted corporations.
"These images are haunting. How can this possibly be dignified? Why can't you collect donations through appeals? Why do you have to resort to this? Why does your public have to be stunned into shock, a momentary moment of morality or charity, a lapse in individual, consumerist lives?""We are sick and tired of seeing Africa as a starving, conflict ridden basket case."
Since then, we chatted to folks about our telephone call and, we did find resonance with some. One comment was that the impact of these images is that people become completely apathetic.
There you go, seeing these ads over and over again makes you think this is normal. So much for the 2 pounds per person per month this ad is trying to collect.