Why do you do good?

Do you do good for good or for good’s sake?

I was talking to small scale, Capsicum farmers in Vihiga this past week, and my intention was to get their views on horticultural farming. It was almost noon as I approached them. They had been told someone was coming to talk to them and interview them about farming and the perks of farming, but they were never told it would be someone “as tiny” as me (their words, not mine). So, I sat down, pulled out my notebook and made my intentions clear- I wanted to hear their experience, both good and bad. I would jot down one or two things, ask to quote one or two phrases, take pictures and share the final review with their sponsors.

One of them asked “Where do you take this information? We have been interviewed and our photos have been taken so many times, but nothing comes out of it.”

I nodded, knowing that when he said something, he meant monetary gain and having worked in various communities across Western Kenya, it is no secret that non-governmental organizations have in the past, and some still do, give handouts to people in areas of intervention.

However, he got me thinking about the surge of doing good and posting it on Facebook. There have been many posts that filled my feed which involved someone posting a story about ‘hey, I saw this homeless guy, and bought him food,’ or ‘this woman in a wheelchair was having a tough time crossing the street and I helped.’

So, do we do good for good or for good’s sake?

Is it for the number of likes, comments, retweets, reposts or shares that we flaunt what we did to the gods and goddesses of social media?

Tenda wema,Nenda zako.

As I was looking into what’s been written on good deeds, I also learned that museums and historic sites banned, visitors from taking pictures for varied reasons from copyright to maintaining order. I digress, but it’s not to say that there is no power or benefit of doing a good deed.

I still struggle with this because I have done it in the name of work, in drafting donor reports, success stories and following leads on impact stories for various organizations that I have worked for. It still baffles me ‘should we give with one hand while taking a picture with the other?’

At what point should we do a good deed and not tell a soul about it or expect a good deed in return?

For what it’s worth, there’s this beautiful saying we have here in Kenya that goes “Tenda wema, nenda zako,” if I were to directly translate it, it’d be something like “do good, go your own way.”

Do you do good for good or for good’s sake?

Honestly speaking, I don’t know, not anymore and sometimes I wonder, where does that leave me?

3 thoughts on “Why do you do good?

  1. It is quite a worrying trend seeing someone take a photo of someone they helped with this long post about how they changed their worldview and you cannot help but wonder whether it is just self-gratification or altruism.
    Interesting take on this, I wonder, what answer did you give the farmer?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I took the diplomatic route and stated that I was there to get their views and share it with their sponsor, and this was pretty much standard in that they received training, greenhouses and fertilizers from whoever commissioned me.


  2. I believe we should do good because doing for others is what we are called to do. I do random acts of kindness with my children, not because I want to have others see us doing good, but because I want my children to always lead with kindness in a world that often forgets what kindness looks like. Our world is photo snapping crazy, but it does allow others to see there is still goodness in our world.

    Liked by 1 person

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