Since it is the blessed month of Ramadan and this topic seems befitting (I’m a Muslim, if you didn’t figure it out already :P) I just wanted to share some personal experiences with the hope that it will encourage you, to be more open about charity. Sadly, people close their hearts all year round except for times of celebration – where giving seems to have become a part of culture rather than a part of human nature.
“Charity, if you have the means, is a personal choice, but charity which is expected or compelled is simply a polite word for slavery.” ― Terry Goodkind
The initial thought of writing about this came across through a conversation with a friend. She was asking me how I managed to be involved in so many activities. And at that moment of time, I really had no clue on what she was going on about. My life really felt like I had a lot more time to give. Anyways, as far as life experiences go with sharity = sharing + charity.
As a child when I was on holiday in SL, mom used to make us walk the summer heat distributing food packages to the poor. Sometimes I used to wonder why half of them never used to just go and get jobs, rather preferring to hope that some passerby would feed them – then I grew up and realized that people are judgmental. Anyone, even with a minor disability, is not considered fit to work in our society. So they make their living by begging, somewhere they too have a family. Ever since then, the concept of giving has been there and I thank mom for that.
I have a friend who somehow never had this idea of giving. He thought beggars were smelly and a hindrance to society (don’t we all at some point!). He could actually walk by without a second thought. Until one day… He was hungry and had happened to buy some bananas, and while waiting for the bus, was munching on them. Anyhow, the bananas weren’t ripe enough, in annoyance; he left them on the bus bench and got up to catch the bus. As soon as he did that, a beggar came from behind and finished off the remaining bananas that he had discarded. He saw that and then he told me, “Did you see that beggar? I left those bananas there because they were not ripe and she ate them so fast not caring that they weren’t tasty. She must be so hungry and I didn’t even think twice about throwing them.”
Sometimes we don’t realize how fortunate we are until we see those less fortunate and we live in a society where those who are less fortunate are pushed to a side and made invisible, in return we too develop that blind eye.
“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has none; the money which you hoard in the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help, but fail to help.” – St. Basil the Great
Lately, with the whole Arab uprising going on, a friend and her friend decided to have a “Bake Sale for Syria”. She initially was telling me how there aren’t enough charity/volunteer opportunities in SL, especially for the youngsters. Just because of that, I’m so proud of her for making this happen. Though they had a lot to overcome with the location and what to make and how it was going to happen – they made it through. Lots of others volunteered to bring in pastries and what nots, a facebook page was created and from a meager 30 odd people, it grew to over 300 people. The event was a success and even after, people were still donating money, they totally raised beyond Rs. 10o,000. For two girls that started out with just an idea, that’s a lot to be happy about.
Sometimes all we need is the will to do something, to change something, to be something. Never underestimate the power of people. For every 9 that turn to look the other way, that 1 that passes on the message reaches out to 20 that respond positively.
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Helen Keller
In this Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims go rampant with flamboyant iftar parties, but the part I love most about Ramadan is the immergence of giving to those who have less than us. Local mosques that host iftar parties are over flowing with donations of food, and not a single thing goes wasted. There are so many who can’t afford to eat well yet work long hours under the burning sun. This is the month of rejoice for labourers. We had a campaign here – Iftar for laborers every Friday. The campaign was a thorough success. Though it was meant to feed the ladies camp of only 100, it not only fed them but 600 others in the nearby male labor camp, the donations were just that much.
Sometimes it’s really not about the money, it’s about the heart. Whatever you give from your heart automatically becomes enough even if it feels like it isn’t. Small efforts lead to big results. Don’t give because culture expects you to give, but give because you expect yourself to give.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa
There are numerous occasions all over the world where you find moments for sharity. Remember that there are poor people everywhere. Whenever I walk past a beggar, I have that immense sense of guilt, that I could have given him something. Many a time, I buy some fruit or bread and walk back the entire distance just so that I can have some peace of mind. When you give once and you experience that feeling of gratitude from someone who has nothing to give back but that, it’s a better high than anything get from any other illegal substance available. It is such a beautiful feeling that at some point, you don’t even have to think about it, that it just flows out of you. Be those people. Give. Giving is indeed what most of life is all about.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.” ― Sam Levenson