Some people worry that their donations never make it to the people intended – have you seen this happen? How corrupt is the system, and what would you say to people worrying about donating because of this?
From the UK to Singapore, charity scandals have become common fare in recent years in developed nations. One after another, well established non-profit organisations have let down the public. I have personally witnessed how the orphanage and the children were used as donation bait. In many cases, setting up a charity in Tanzania is a business venture. An easy option for us would be to stop donating for fear of corruption. But in the end, the real victims are the innocent in desperate need of aid. I obviously do not believe that inaction is the solution. I think that the burden rests on us to continually educate ourselves about the practices in the aid industry and figure out how we should part with our time and money for the less fortunate.
As a filmmaker, how vital is your role in helping these orphans?
What makes Buying Happiness unique is how donors and viewers can see for themselves the impact of their contributions on the lives of the recipients. If we are not documenting this process, I believe that the public would be less inclined to part with their money or opt to donate to a charity instead. And we would then probably not be able to raise the funds to help everyone that we set out to.
You have directed in countries all over the world, and seen much hardship – what makes you especially close to these stories?
The orphans are not documentary subjects whom I have come to develop a personal relationship with. They were children whom I wanted to help as a volunteer 12 years ago. I witnessed first-hand their ambitions and joy during their childhood. And it is devastating to see so many of them struggling to feed themselves today, let alone being able to pursue their dreams. This is both a personal project and a film. And I feel extremely privileged to be able to help my friends through my profession.
Have there been any updates on any of the orphans featured so far?
The orphans are very much in the same conditions. And they are eagerly awaiting news from me about our crowdfunding efforts.
What are your main hopes for this project, what will have to happen for you to deem it a success?
On a personal level, I want to give the orphans a decent shot in life. And if we are able to raise the money needed to fund their projects this year, that would be a success. As a filmmaker, being able to complete this ambitious project would be a triumph. I believe that Buying Happiness has the potential to educate the public and confront them with pressing issues facing the global community today.
What do you want to say to anyone watching the trailer?
Have you always wanted to help the less fortunate? Have you ever wondered what happened to your donations? Do you want to help these orphans turn their lives around? Do you want to watch a documentary showing exactly how donations impact the lives of the recipients? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please contribute to our cause. We cannot solve world hunger through this film. But we can certainly touch a few lives.
You can donate to Buying Happiness here, and please remember that every donation counts.