The recent social media condemnation of alleged abuses at a welfare home in Batu Gajah raises a familiar and simple question. Is it fair to heap criticism on someone who tries to help unfortunate people but falls short of providing the ideal help for lack of resources?
It is easy to judge when we have never got our hands dirty, and it seems that the emergence of social media has turned everyone into an armchair critic.
But then, it is perhaps our innate sense of morality that makes us jump on anyone who appears to have mistreated a handicapped person or an abandoned child. This was probably why Rumah Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Batu Gajah so quickly went under fire when it was revealed that it had kept some of its residents in pens.
However, handing out judgements too hastily could be counterproductive. At the end of the day, these children do need help and giving too much bad publicity to those who are trying to provide that help could dampen their efforts. When those efforts cease, who takes over?
The chief warden of the Batu Gajah facility has explained that some of the inmates had to be isolated because they had violent tendencies that made them attack the others in their sleep. He said the home was short of funds and the only solution he could think of was to put the problem inmates in pens at bedtime.
Child rights activist James Nayagam, speaking to FMT about the issue, said he recognised that there was a dilemma. On the one hand, charity homes shouldn’t take in more children than they can handle, but on the other hand, there aren’t enough charity homes for abandoned children in the country.
This begs the question of what happens to abandoned children whom charity homes reject because they already have their hands full.
Should the man on the street be free of the burden of responsibility because he isn’t the father of these children or because he isn’t the warden of a charity home? Perhaps. But is it then fair for him to condemn those who are trying to do something about it?
It is understandable that when it comes to the welfare of the nation’s children, people tend to get emotional. Many put this issue at the top of their list of social concerns, but it is precisely because of this that people who are not doing anything concrete to ease the situation should not be too critical of how others are doing it.
Sam Childers, also known as the Machine Gun Preacher, has received a lot of criticism for the methods he uses in trying to rescue children in the war zone of South Sudan. Much of the criticism, no doubt, has to do with his activities as a combatant. He used to stockpile weapons inside churches and orphanages and would supply these to some of the rebel groups in the region.
Childers had this to say to his critics: “I ask you, if a mad man came in and abducted your child and I said to you I can bring your child home, does it matter how I bring them home?”