Hans Boodt, mannequin,wall,faces,quote"people with disability are not props for your philanthropic posts"

People with disability, are not props for our “philanthropic posts’’


When I became “disabled” due to an illness after proper 20yrs of living a life of privilege ability my life and not just my life alone but the life of my family changed too. While I am on the very difficult path of self-acceptance, my father is not okay neither do I think he will ever be after his daughter’s life took a complete 360°turn.

In the early years of my disability I decided to volunteer in an organization that houses people like me, the only organization here that takes care of their needs and provides training and education but the stark difference is that they are worse than me physically, mentally, emotionally and economically; this being the only life they have known.

Baba was not enthusiastic taking me there he feared what if I became depressed; lose hope in the ability of myself, what if my self-esteem and self-image take a deep dive never to recover and lots of other questions all starting with what if and ending with you. Mummy and baba convincingly voiced their fears and I decided not to go. In retrospect that was a good decision because I have learned to not need sympathy and pity at all times.

The thing that worried them most was the display of photos all over social media in developing countries like mine without realizing we have become slaves to narcissism. First, it was celebrating birthdays in old age homes which I thought was a noble gesture, then there was the change in venue “orphanages” I had my reservations about that too and now the venue has changed again to the organizations that houses and takes care of kids with Severe Disabilities.

What could be nobler than spend your special day with such kids, right? The smiles that greet you however struggling and deformed as you enter their home makes for a great picture. They clap for you when you cut your cake, smile genuinely when you give them the small packets of food and gifts, now the time for the main event “photo op” you stand there with your friends and family dressed in your finest and they in their usual everyday clothes; some visible struggling to eat .The picture then you post on social media with kinds of stuff how fortunate you feel, what a special day it was and blah.. blah!

Why does anyone share their photos online? I’d say, it’s to affirm and to let the world know about their own stories. You have a story about yourself that you tell yourself every day. You’re a good person, you believe in equality, etc and when you go to a charity, you’re telling yourself, “I’m doing this because I care. I’m doing this, because I’m a good person.” you who just came for a couple of hours you didn’t eat with them and were disgusted to touch their faces because they were constantly drooling; scrunching up your nose as you pass as some of them  have a lingering smell of piss and puke. However when you share your perfect photo of the occasion, you’re telling the world, “I did this because I’m a good person.”And it’s not bragging when you get instant like and comments confirming what you wish the world to believe, that indeed you are a very good person and you care.

However, have you ever thought what your visit does to them? You think they don’t know anything they are too happy to worry they are just a child, etc and say other mean things I don’t wish to write about but the feeling you make them feel is undeniably there. Some of them question their very own existence but the real questions that they are seeking answers for, lie hidden in their hearts – “Can I also do what you do, when I grow up? Can I also live how you live? But Are we not teaching them to live in the environment of sympathy and engraving in their mind that’s this is the only environment they will get attention and thrive in. It is always agreeable to have the power to “give” than to receive.

Have you ever wondered why are you inclined to post that picture with those kids with disabilities, Does it have anything to do with power and privilege? You don’t post with other kids, children you don’t know

Maybe because;

  • You know someone (like yourself or their parents) is willing and able to vigorously defend the interests of a child of privilege.
  • Your culture actively protects the privacy and safety of children.
  • You have internalized these cultural expectations. You know it is wrong to do this.
  • You would not get any reward out of posting it.


So, why do you do not find it permissible for you to post a picture of you with children with disability that you do not know nor have any direct relationship with? Why this behavior is considered culturally acceptable? Why does it not concern most of us when we see children with disability with people he/she does not know? People with disability, are not props for our “philanthropic posts’’

I do not know. I feel sick just thinking about it.

Why do you want to share the picture? Why do you want to override this child’s interests? What would the child say when they see they are only props for your photos? Think deeply how a day of yours is most days of the year for them. My family looks out to prevent all that has the potential to hurt me but who will do so them if not all of us? Have you given a thought that what such “your celebrations” teach them? Self-adornment, it is only this you want?

If you are being honest and saying yes! Thank you. I have something to say, why you don’t keep the picture to yourself. Share it with your loved ones if you must but off-line.

If the goal of the post is, hoping to encourage others to get involved then post the picture of the organization.

However, if you want to celebrate among them, then pledge on your birthday to support a less privileged child with disabilities who is fighting against poverty and discrimination. Your pledge can make a difference in his /her life to ensure his /her inclusion in mainstream society with equal rights. Make an impact by asking your friends and family to donate to your campaign to help a child with disabilities for his / her health & rehabilitation, education, and inclusion. But don’t use a picture of a child in a situation you wouldn’t want yours. We have a proverb, which says “left hand should not know what right hand gives”, “do a good deed and forget all about it”.

invisible person on a wheel chair with a girl standing next to it sheltering with an umbrella which is in tattares written over the image is ,a good deed stop being good or for them it becomes only for you.when it ends up being a social media post.

girl with umbrella, open background, next to an empty white wheelchair, with writing over the image.

Giving is just not about making a donation; it’s about making a difference. When did people become props in our do-good lives, and why do we not call it out? Perhaps by celebrating birthdays and anniversaries with these children, you are making them realize what they don’t have.

31 thoughts on “People with disability, are not props for our “philanthropic posts’’

  1. albert says:

    Wow! Surprising stuff! I have never encountered this thing about posting photographs of disabled persons, but then I don’t spend much time online — don’t know about all the different sites where people do this. If you are right about their motives, it is a very sad state of affairs. I’m glad you are blessed with wise and caring parents. You seem to be developing a pretty wise perspective yourself. Good on you!

    P.S. I don’t read your posts just because you have a disability. I think you have interesting things to say. Besides, I have lived a well-protected provincial life. Reading about your perspective, so unimaginably far away yet really present through your words, helps me grow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Srijana says:

      Albert I know you read with a genuine heart I feel now I have not written nicely until it get a Comment from you , it’s like the the assurance I wait for😛because I feel you are my guardian here it’s like I have the best of both worlds you there ,my parents here.Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lloydslensphotographyllc says:

    I’m struggling with the right words here. . .
    I think just “thank you for being genuine”
    It’s not just people with disabilities that get used this way. It’s any situation where the public’s heart can be manipulated. People who misuse another person’s struggle are nothing more than just “sympathy pirates “.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Srijana says:

      its a sad fact it just makes no sense how can some people only see one part of the picture of them smiling and forget about the harm it causes other. i like the term you use“sympathy pirates “ and i think this is the perfect term for them. thank-you for reading will look forward to hearing more from you

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thelongview says:

    I remember in the book Daddy Long Legs, Keys gets infuriated by a sentence quoted form the Bible – “the poor we have always with us”. “The poor being some sort of useful animal,” she says angrily. I guess what you are saying is similar to that. Certainly one should not profit from another’s misfortune, even if it is only a sense of achievement at having done good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Srijana says:

      i have not read the book but i like your analogy ill read the book soon and you are correct no one should use others misfortune as a means to tell their story its just sad how low can some people stoop.


  4. TheAdventuresOfJack says:

    I loved your post. While I’ve never taken a picture with someone that has a disability I often post about time spent at homeless shelters. It’s different but it’s to spread awareness. Is this also offensive? Genuinely asking. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ellen @ If It Brings You Joy says:

    Great read! I can’t say I’ve seen many of these types of photos, but certainly agree people should think about what’s best for that person.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Srijana says:

      its so common here in developing countries you’ll see photos in social media, news papers everywhere they think it helps raise awareness i assume, but it completely has a negative effect .

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ckcmomma says:

    Having a disability myself makes me able to relate to this more, even though it is invisible. I think a lot of people don’t understand certain disabilities and that things they do or say can be extremely harmful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Srijana says:

      mine is also invisible until i decide to use my walking aids . I completely agree with you. disability makes us more understanding but that shouldn’t be the case always. thank you for reading and do come often.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Tiffany Thomas says:

    I’m glad that you have written this post. I used to work with people who had a disability. It annoyed us that for certain events the mayor or governor would want our clients to attend just for a photo -op. We consistently spread the message that they are person before their disability. Their disability does not define who they are. I’m glad that you a person who does have a disability to say enough is enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. attackandy says:

    I had an accident and have been shocked at how people with disabilities are treated in Australia. I fell out of my wheelchair one day and people streamed past me, like I was a rock in a river. I think you can learn more about humanity when people don’t want to help. I had to straighten my wheelchair, put the brakes on and put the cushion back on. I did this while dozens of people walked past me on the footpath. This taught me something, it taught me that I am not as helpless as I thought. Also one day somebody was filming me trying to walk at the gym they didn’t ask if they could film me and when I turned and caught them filming me they saw the look on my face and put the camera down. I was taught you should ask somebody if they wouldn’t mind, not just roam around with your camera out. People are only getting ruder and more self-centred with the internet. The internet has ruined the morality of a generation


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