‘The WellFound office this week has been awash with talk of the reality TV show ‘I’m a celebrity…Get me out of here’. It seems when our volunteers and staff are not raising money for projects in Africa they like nothing better than to compare notes on who is getting voted out, who throws hissy fits when they don’t get their way and who squeals like a banshee when they have a tarantula crawl up their nose (WellFound sympathises with the last one).
Now good, educated, compassionate people work at WellFound. They believe in the projects we do and feel strongly about those in third world countries having access to clean safe water sources, yet reality TV raises its attention grabbing head and all the schadenfreuder for watching people get covered in unpleasant creatures comes crashing out.
It’s not just us. More people routinely vote on the X-Factor than they do in the General Election. In the last 12 years the number of reality TV shows on British television has gone from 4 to 320. Television and reality shows create vasts sums of revenue through advertising and telephone premium rate numbers. Some of these funds are directed to charitable causes, which is excellent. However it is often raising the profile of the realities of third world poverty which needs to be raised and placing cameras or even celebrities into the position of walking miles to collect water, living on meager rations often it is just rice not rice and beans which to a family in Africa would be seen as a luxury,would be a step in the right direction.
So I have formulated a plan.
We turn the third world into a reality TV show. Rather than sending celebrities with camera crews to harsh environments, we just send the camera crews. Stars will be born and we don’t have to fork out for the air fare. There can be ‘straight to camera’ pieces from people who lose loved ones to disease instead of C-list starlets who have lost their make up bag. Instead of the fading guitarist, we can have a child soldier whose trauma extends to more than just getting over drugs or people walking miles just to find water which of course is often contaminated, but this is the only water they have. People who dedicate songs ‘to their Gran can be replaced by songs dedicated to a parent’s five children, three of whom are still alive. Most importantly of all we can be reminded that degradation of humanity is not something endured by a few to win a prize but a challenge that must be overcome by us all in order to allow our own humanity to shine through.’