Education- A Game Changer

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela

India is a country which is further divided into sub countries. I say Countries and not States because the ethos and cultures are so different in every state that you can hardly believe that you are in the same country once you move from one part of the country to the other.

I live in New Delhi which is the Northern part of the country and help a charity in Kerala which is the tip of India, well, almost. My daily encounters include people from all walks of life including the laundry man’s children. The laundry men in New Delhi are generally poverty-stricken and illiterate. The laundry man in my society has 6 children and no has limited means to feed them.

I was talking to his elder daughter one day who is in the 12th grade and asked her about her future plans. She smiled and asked me instead, “What future?”, I said, “Your future, what are you going to do after you pass out from the 12th grade? College? Job? What will you do?”. She smiled again and told me that that’s it for her. She wont be studying any further. This is all her mother will allow her to do. She added that whenever she sits down to study, her mother forces her to work and complete house hold chores, passing these exams is a big deal for her.

Tanushree's Photography

Tanushree’s Photography

Zoom out of that scene. I am now walking on dusty paths of Kerala in a village to visit a beneficiary family’s house for my charity. The house is clean and the mother is a widow. Sh serves as a domestic servant in the nearby houses and feeds her three children, two daughters and one son. As we started talking to her she tells us that her daughter is in her second year of Under Graduate program in Pharmacy. On asking how she is paying for her fees, she tells us that she kept the little gold jewelry she had as mortgage to pay for the college tuition fees. She adds that she understands the importance of education and she wants her younger son and daughter to get educated too and escape this circle of poverty. By the way, her son wants to be a Computer Science Engineer.

My mind was whirling with these contrasting characters. Two mothers, both love their children and still this huge gap of awareness and knowledge about what is right and what is wrong for their children. First and foremost, I give credit to the nonprofit as with their resolute efforts and countless counselling sessions they are able to bring about this drastic change.But it’s always on us as to what we do with our lives. We always get help in some form or the other. But what we do with the help is always on us.

While this woman lives in a small village, the laundry man’s wife lives in the capital of India, doesn’t it account for anything? Any sort of awareness? So I always give credit to the person who changes her/his life and her/his family’s life.

Tanushree's Photography

Tanushree’s Photography

In all these events one thing which is clichéd for centuries and is true, came out in solid in front of me and it was the importance of Education.There is one answer to all the miseries related to poverty and that is Education. Education was and is a Game Changer for the society and at least for the society of India. We are still living deep in superstitions and Education can end that. We still have a long way to go and we can inspire people to change their centuries old beliefs. There is lack of motivation and awareness. I take responsibility for that as I am not doing enough to change the psychology.

We need inspiration and with the kind of youth India has, it wont be difficult. Nothing is easy and it is difficult to solve a problem when we are clueless of its solution. We know the answer here so we have a path. It wont be as tough this time. Not just India, but any country can only move forward when the part of population which is struggling to make ends meet gets educated. Education not only brings bread but also opens up locked doors in minds. It makes a person think logically for not only self but also for the family. It’s almost like Magic. old_notebook-wallpaper-960x540

“When you know better you do better.”
― Maya Angelou

What do you think?

Delving into the moral ambiguity of caring for the stranger as I walk the streets of New Delhi

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New Delhi and its people are full of contrasts. The menaces of greed and violence, the degradation of people and land, the juxtaposition of natural beauty and man-made horror and, finally, the sublime joy of human love, sacrifice and loyalty are always, everywhere, on full display. The world seems to shed all shyness here and display every possible permutation of beauty and sadness on these old, old streets.

Charity Spring is about caring for our world and helping those who care. I noticed something disturbing within myself today. Giving is its own reward, but when is giving harmful? Am I one to judge? How can I discern who are the deserving poor and who among us are not being honest about their capacity to care for themselves? And then there is the universal and time-worn dilemma of whether to give money to an addict who really does need nourishment and acts of human kindness to help keep him or her tethered to the world of the living, but who you are quite certain will spend the money on the addiction?

Several days ago, a list of America’s Worst Charities was published. It was the result of a yearlong collaboration between the Tampa Bay Times and the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s largest and longest serving nonprofit newsroom dedicated to watchdog journalism. CNN joined the partnership in March 2013.

Such a damning assessment of fake charities exploiting the goodness of donors wanting to do the right thing. Horrendous findings. Many hundreds of millions of dollars raised from a giving public thinking they were really giving to the brand name charities that the corrupt ones named themselves after.

While I was walking towards the metro station in Old Delhi recently, I saw this man. He seemed to me like he was a healthy man, sitting comfortably on the path that lead to the subway with hands folded and eyes closed. He didn’t say a word. He was just sitting there, but with what seemed to be an imitation of pain on his face. Now I say imitation because from the direction I was walking he caught my eye early and it was a lengthy walk before I reached the place where he sat. I noticed that he squinted his eyes to steal looks at the passers-by, though he seemed want to to appear to be blind. Some kind people were dropping coins in the plate just strategically placed before him.

India is a rather interesting place to live and New Delhi tops the list of cities I’ve seen. The contrasting shades of life are so painful that you almost cry — and sometimes do. While you see people flying past in a Porsche, you also see some people literally dying in the streets from hunger and exposure.

Our society thankfully has created many shelter houses and free food distribution systems. In some ways this support system, as needed as it is, both elevates and demotes people who are destitute. Beyond the minimum sustenance required for survival, what is there to aspire to, to hope for?

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Mother Teresa once said, and I think it has something important to say to what disturbs me here, that being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. Elsewhere she wrote or said, “Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”  Is it for me to judge?

What am I to think or do about individuals and charities that at least seem to be exploiting the goodness of others? Give blindly or use deceit as an excuse not to care — not to see?

Whether or not that man I saw in the subway was truly blind and destitute, is there ever enough cause to stop us from caring, whether or not we are being deceived? Is caring its own reward?