I have raised some criticisms of my Ghana stories and some of it I think is valid. It has been claimed that I am simply a scam taking advantage of people, that the stories are nothing but begging for money (they’re not) and that I should document everything to a degree that would convince a skeptical scientist or a prosecuting lawyer or (even worse) an insurance claims investigator.
I think those are valid points,
I want to emphasize that the diaries are NOT asking for money unless I specifically ask for help. The shortage of money is a part of the stories as it is with poor people in any emergency and if I left that out it would be impossible to explain what is happening because most of the problems these people are having is because they are extremely poor. But the story is what they are going through, what poor people in the world are going through, and they are not asking for help.
As I have said, if people do seriously ask how they can help I feel obligated to at least provide a means because it is not my place to refuse to let people help other people who desperately need it and would accept it.
It is a difficult balance and sometimes I fail at it.
I have never said anything that is not true. I have left things out, obviously, but nothing major. And sometimes I get the details wrong because John’s English isn’t really very good. Sometimes I misunderstand. And sometimes he simply hasn’t given me enough information so I have to interpolate. But I try to keep that to a minimum.
Oddly enough I can confirm almost everything. I do have copies of receipts. Every single time John gives money to someone he sends me a photo of himself putting the money in their hands. I have copies of John’s national ID and passport.
And yes, John is a minister. He may have lost his diploma in the fire but I have photos of him at the ceremony where he was receiving his degree. The church he was ordained with does, frankly, seem more concerned with raising money than in evangelizing. They used to make John travel all over the country preaching in public places and finally he left them from disillusionment. But they do exist.
But if I give out all of this kind of personal information, with proof, I have doxed John and the others in a major way. I hope everyone an understand that one simply does not present that kind of information openly on the internet. I just can’t do it.
In terms of the nonprofit that I have mentioned, I make no apologies for that. It is on record and legitimate, though its orientation is more toward helping artists and creative people than simply helping everyone. I have every right to link to it, though.
I would also mention that John in effect works for me.
If people demand a kind of absolutist, legalistic, or journalistic proof (back when journalism had standards) I understand that but the nature of this format is that I simply cannot do it.
I understand that many are extremely critical these days because there truly are so many scams out there (and always have been, frankly) but that does not mean that one should assume that every single person in need is a scammy liar.
These people deserve to have their voices told. Their stories remind me so much of the tales my mom told of how her family lived during the Depression when she was a child. Dirt poor and scrambling just to survive. And sometimes not surviving. People need to see that so they can understand what we are fighting against.
Those who want to dispute in the comments threads are free to do that but forgive me if I will not participate. I don’t think it is constructive.