Since the terrible fire at Notre Dame, the online world has been alive with debate.
Who should pay for the repairs? Is it right that several billionaires have so quickly agreed to fund the restoration, when there are countless other crises and disasters which also need urgent help?
While few would argue that the Cathedral deserves to be restored, many are left wondering why a building of historic and aesthetic value has received immediate and generous financial backing, while humanitarian and global needs struggle to attract support: indigenous communities, rainforest preservation, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking are just a few examples.
This is a question that I face too. At Blue Dragon we struggle with seemingly impossible odds on a routine basis.
In the past week alone, we’ve received calls for help in two abduction cases and more than 20 trafficking cases; we’ve rescued 7 young women from human trafficking; and have dealt with 4 cases of child sexual abuse.
And those are just the ‘headline figures’, in addition to all the daily work of caring for children recovering from trauma, taking kids to hospital, and so on.
How is that we have to struggle to raise the money to pay for this, when money for the restoration of Notre Dame comes so easily?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fundamental nature of our work. It’s messy. It’s unending. It’s complex, and sometimes chaotic.
Compared to the task of rebuilding parts of a cathedral, what Blue Dragon does (and what many charities around the world do) will never be wrapped up neatly with a grand opening and a plaque on the wall.
I don’t mean that the work on the cathedral is going to be easy. There will be feats of engineering to conquer, challenges with materials and labour and architecture to overcome. But they will be overcome, and there will be an endpoint with tremendous photo opportunities.
Even though our world is naturally messy and constantly changing, as people we like things to be simple and clean. So it really isn’t a surprise that the restoration of the cathedral has attracted huge sums of money in just a few days.
Faced with this, charities either have to learn to market themselves in a way that offers simple, clean solutions to the complex problems we work with; or the world needs to embrace the inherent ‘messiness’ and be willing to fund work that will never be simple and clean.
In reality, neither charities nor the rest of the world can change so easily.
The struggle continues.