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June 4, 2011 12:39 am

How to give it: Natasha Kaplinsky

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Newsreader and journalist Natasha Kaplinsky, 38, is an ambassador for Save the Children’s No Child Born to Die campaign, which will be lobbying for funding at the Global Vaccines Conference in London on June 13 (www.savethechildren.org.uk/#action).

How did your childhood affect your views on charity?

Natasha Kaplinsky

My father is a political refugee from South Africa and I was brought up in Kenya, so I grew up in a highly politicised environment, often in contact with poverty. Being aware of how privileged we were was intrinsic in my upbringing.

Which cause do you feel most passionately about?

I’ve just been to Rajasthan and the slums of Delhi to see Save the Children’s mobile health clinics. Save the Children is a powerful, effective organisation that I’m proud to be associated with. In one slum, their once-a-week van-based clinic is responsible for all health needs. The impact of that small van was inspirational.

Should television news promote charitable causes?

No. TV news has a duty to report relevant stories but not to tell people what they should think about them.

How does having children change your attitude to charity?

It’s like a layer of skin that’s peeled back. Suddenly you’re aware that there’s no parent around the world who doesn’t care for their own child in the way that you care for your own. Whether you’re a mother in Knightsbridge [London] or in a Delhi slum, you’d sacrifice anything for your own flesh and blood.

Is aid always effective in developing countries?

There’s no point being a big-boy aid agency and going in, flexing your muscles, being fantastic while you’re there, then leaving the local community in tatters when you leave. I believe strongly in healthcare for third-world countries and [support] for communities to help themselves. That’s why I’m a patron of Merlin (www.merlin.org) [which sends medical experts to the frontline of emergencies].

What do you get out of your giving?

I get much more than I could give, whether it’s time or money. There’s almost an emotional offset. Seeing, for example, the mothers in Delhi, there’s a huge sense of guilt, so if there’s anything I can do, be it helping to raise the profile or donating, then I feel responsible and duty bound to do that.

Should we have an option to donate money at cashpoints?

It’s a surprising and a brilliant idea. There cannot be enough opportunity to remind people that they can and should give money at every point of their day.

Do celebrities use good causes for their own ends?

If they do, it’s slightly sickening but, if it helps raise the profile of the charity, then let them continue.

howtogiveit@ft.com

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