While growing up in a Christian household, I saw and took part in charity endeavors. This was important to my family and part of our values. My family wasn't rich, but we had enough to be able to give to others. Any failings aside, our generosity to others was notable, and we genuinely gave out of a desire to see others do better.

Whether it was giving money directly to the homeless, donating to charities or donating to our home churches to distribute as they saw fit (hopefully to the needy), our intent was to ensure that bit by bit we could help uplift those around us.

As I got older, I saw how some charities had a vested interest in promoting their religion, be it Christianity or Islam or another religion. I always wondered why they needed to promote their religion so aggressively. I wondered if it wasn't about giving or helping at all, but about winning converts, people who they could later control. Because giving to the vulnerable often creates an obligation on their part, a psychological need to return the favour. Paying back that gift can come in the form of hefty donations to said charity, or monthly tithes, or sycophantically screaming praise for this or that particular organization. It can also create dependence, which can open the mind to brainwashing.

Coming upon this wisdom in my younger years shook me deeply and changed the way I thought about charity and how it should be done.

Fast forward to my early adulthood.

At this point, I have also learned far more about history, colonialism and how missionaries used religion to destabilize cultures. I learned about how insidious colonialism was, how Western religion worked with imperialist nations to justify chattel slavery and enforce it. Natural disaster after disaster happens, and religious charities come to the sites of the disaster offering food and water — and Bibles. Particularly in Haiti, where Christian propaganda has said that Haitians were punished by their God for freeing themselves from slavery and becoming the first Black Republic, demonizing Vodou, the religion indigenous to them, not the fact that the island of Hispaniola sits on two fault lines. Charity then becomes the excuse to come to Haiti to seek to convert black people away from their ancestral practices.

There have been anecdotal reports that Haitians, many of whom were already Christian (via Catholicism) or having a dual religious identity, were forced to convert to Protestant Christianity to receive food and water.

Given my observations and experience, I swore that any hand I had in charity would be as anonymous as possible. If I gave, it would be silent or with a religiously neutral word of encouragement. The needy don't need us using them as political pawns. They need genuine assistance.

I continue to follow my family and my culture's tradition of charity. However, when I give, it is done without any trail leading to me, whenever possible. We do not give for glory or praise, but simply to help uplift others.

If you are going to give charity to others, compassion, practical assistance and love is far more beneficial than using charity as propaganda. If you cannot give without a hook, perhaps you should reassess your motivations.