The Age old Feud

givinghandsglow“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa

I am working in the non-profit sector for over a year now. I work for some charities in both India and the USA. So I tend to bring it up when I meet people. I am always curious about what other think and what paradigms they have. I see some starkly contrasting views regarding Giving. Whether giving to the charity is better or helping directly is the best way to help.

In one such conversation with my school friend, she told me–

“I am typical. I don’t find joy in giving away money to some organization. As a 22-year-old with a decent job, I have money but I am not rich. I CAN donate but I have to sacrifice something I need to do that. Its tough. I always have two options-

1. I can go to one of the local Non-Government Organization and donate some money. It is an NGO, which is actually doing some work. I can see the difference they have brought in with their work. People are helped and the staff there is dedicated and honest.

2. I can buy some food, take some clothes, some money and give them directly to the destitute. I can give whatever I want. I can buy them utensils, I can give them my old clothes and I can provide them with some financial assistance.

Frankly, I find joy in the second option. I can see the smile on the face of the beneficiary. They bless me and I feel blissful. I have the assurance that my hard-earned money reached the needy directly and that I didn’t lose that smile of receiving. I am happy.

The bigger an organization, the bigger is the percentage that they keep for running that organization. The salaries, the marketing costs, administrative costs, etc. I don’t want to pay for all that when I can help directly. I don’t have the confirmation that my money is used wisely. There are scams and I don’t my money to be a part of it”

I agree to some of the points but I don’t agree completely. This is a debated topic and the views are interesting. The conversation above disturbed me, so I was basically not helping the poor but earning money. That’s what it all came down to for ‘her’.

I talked to my uncle about it who cleared my doubts. He told me-ORD3

“So your friend, where does she live? In New Delhi? Ask her if she is willing to Afghanistan to help the people there like some NGO’s are. If Afghanistan is too far then ask her if she is willing to go to the flood destructed state of Uttrakhand to rescue people and give them food. I am sure she wont step up to endanger her life.

The NGO’s risk their lives to help people. They work day and night to provide the basic amenities to the remote corners of the world. They give food to people who are dying. Set up relief camps and dedicate their lives to strangers in need. They feed, they educate and they are first ones to leave their home when a disaster strikes while we sit inside and watch the News Channels.

It is easy to sit back and pass judgement. I agree that there are scams, there are frauds and there are many such things which are out of our hands. But is that reason enough to stop helping those who are actually helping people?
If we can’t give money, we can give our time. It should come from in here (points to his heart).

If they don’t get paid then what will they eat? How will they run their family? The marketing cost? I don’t want my charity to depend solely on my donation. I want them to progress further and find new sources of support. I donate to some charities and they send me reports of what they are accomplishing with my help and trust me I am happy.”

I still have my own perceptions. My own insecurities as a person working for a charity. But the world always has two types of people and sadly right now, I am standing in the middle with no definite decision in mind.

I only know that the joy of Giving is much more than the joy of Receiving and it doesn’t matter what everyone says, Helder Camara puts it so aptly–

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Charity Begins at Home, taken too literally by us?

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
~John Bunyan

source:studentdoctor.comSince we were children our parents taught us to help the poor. They taught us the most important lesson of life and that is To Give. We grew up giving the last bit of the chocolate to that poor boy standing alone in the street or choosing within our old toys and clothes, the ones we could sacrifice for someone else.

We grew up some more and we started donating sweets and presents on festivals. We started “feeling” for those who were less fortunate. This continued until we started earning and had capacity to “donate”. Then our preferences changed.

We looked for OUR “cause”, OUR “people”, OUR “place”, OUR “satisfaction”. We forgot about selfless giving, the chocolates we shared and the toys we gave away to some strangers, not knowing who could be getting them. Did we choose back then? Did we go and see who played with our toys? Or did we ask that kid if he was less fortunate in a way that we want? No, right?

Then why did we suddenly become so selfish that we chose to give to our Religion, Our Country, Our Cause and so for so many other “specific” reasons! We forgot the whole point of Giving. Is it that poor girl’s fault that she is not from your country or religion? She is simply needy, she needs your help and if you can help her then there should be no second factor that should stop you except for a few ethical reasons. In the end it’s your call.

I like these words by Thomas Fuller-

 “Charity begins at home, but should not end there.”source: Google