The COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide suffering it has caused has led to a wave of charitable projects in the past weeks, but social media posts that feature images of those in need have drawn criticism from some.
Some who made donations in the form of hampers to those severely impacted by the virus uploaded their good deeds to social media, featuring images of the economically vulnerable.
Parliamentary representatives, political figures and citizens alike, have posted images of hamper distribution that do not blur or censor recipients in any way.
Persons have since expressed concern on the use of these images. Some on social media pointed out that using photos of those who depend on such hampers to feed themselves and their families is dehumanizing.
“A reminder to all those that are giving hampers to the needy. While you may want to highlight the poverty plight in Trinidad and Tobago during this time please stop snapping pictures of handing hampers to families and children. Do not tell me about you ask permission, they will say yes because they feel bad or obligated and you’re simply manipulating a situation. It’s insensitive and dehumanizing!! Out here making people feel horrid for accepting help. if you have to snap people receiving help, I don’t see you as helpful, sorry.”
“It’s dehumanizing- you are adding to their psychological stress, embarrassment, guilt and shame for accepting your help, making them more vulnerable. You are exposing their identity and location to individuals who can exploit and abuse them. It is undignified. Facebook is not an extension or branch of the Integrity Commission. We do not need to see the faces of poverty. If others “Need” to see it. Private emails and meetings with blurred face images to the sponsors only will do” one person wrote.
Member of Parliament for Moruga, Dr Lovell Francis posted on Facebook stating that he respects the dignity of those who may be in need. An accompanying image of packed grocery bags, he stated was part of his own drive to distribute hampers to constituents.
“You know my stance on this. You will never see a picture of me handing anyone a hamper. I still and will always believe that people deserve privacy and dignity. But like the Biblical Israelites, Trinidadians need to see to believe…. And whereas I am incapable of the miracle of multiplication I am doing the best possible. Sorry no pretty hampers… now is not the time for that,” he wrote.
Lovell told the Express on Tuesday that decisions to post charitable work on social media is not his concern. He said that it was his personal philosophy to refrain from such. He added that the use of MP salaries to fund initiatives was a standard practice as there is no fund dedicated to such efforts
“However, people choose to do their distributions is their concern. I have a principle on which I stand. There is a mistaken belief that MPs get funding for these sorts of things. The sources are really either This is nothing special just the circumstances are heightened. Every Christmas I distribute 700 hampers in my constituency. What I can’t beg for, I fund,” he said.
Former Minister in the Peoples Partnership government Stephen Cadiz also posted a note on Facebook, addressing the issue.
“I know the reason but can we not show pictures of who are the recipients of hampers? People are already in desperate circumstances; we don’t need to profile anyone! The giving will go a long way on its own.” He wrote.