According to economist Dambisa Moyo, our richest countries, have, over the past 60 years sent over $1 trillion dollars (£630bn+) of aid to Africa. That’s a lot of money, and there is continued debate as to whether this amount of amount of funding, and the way that it is used, helps, or actually does more harm than good. Moyo says it harms. She wrote a book* about it, too.
Resultantly, whilst instinctively I see any aid as good aid, I also find myself seduced by Moyo’s logic. I think I understand, but honestly, it is probably only in the same way that I do when top-level scientists dumb down quantum mechanics on television to make it accessible to we simpletons. I have an inkling that the Universe might actually be fathomable, because the BBC made a graphic about it, but it isn’t.
So, if like me, you are socially aware but ultimately quite overwhelmed by these big ideas, then you might be wondering if there is anything that you can get involved with, that is both profound and manageable. Something that you can do on your own (if you like), in your own time and repeat, for free. There is such a thing.
You can give blood.
Since September 2011, blood stocks in the UK dropped steadily until January 2012, when, encouragingly, they began to recover. That is no reason, however, to become complacent. As anyone who knows about the power of groups will tell you, this period of collaborative effort is the ideal time to get out there and donate.
I wonder, what your immediate thoughts are when you think of how donated blood is used. Accidents? Stabbings and shootings? Generally violent, massive blood loss, right? True, whole blood can be used in those and many other situations, but consider this: How many people do you think there are receiving chemotherapy in the UK right now? What about those recovering from an organ transplant? Hundreds of thousands of babies are born each year in Britain, and not all of them without a hitch. Separated blood – that is, plasma, platelets and red cells – is used for these and an array of other purposes, every single day. Donations have begun to increase again, but it is still not enough.
For 15 minutes of your time, and a little under a pint of blood, you can save someone else’s life.
This does not require an institution. You do not need to join a society. You do not require any specialised skills. The organisational factors involved, are limited only to your ability to self-manage to the point of filling out your details and going to a donation centre. That is it.
There is no question like, “How many other people will do this to make it worth my while?”
It does not matter. Others will do it, if and when they want to. You can do it now. So why don’t you? Visit the website, register, and give blood.
(I am not affiliated with Give Blood UK. As always, I’d love your thoughts.)