I remember that I must have been in 2nd or 3rd standard. It was a summer vacation and my parents and I often went to the famous Law Garden on many evenings. Once such an evening is imprinted in my memory. I was having my icecream and my parents had finished eating theirs. While they were waiting for me to finish, my father suddenly went to the kiosk of the ice cream man again. That’s when I saw a young girl of my age in tattered dress licking an ice cream cup salvaged from the dustbin. I saw my father then admonishing the girl to throw it in the dustbin and he gave her a cup of ice cream. Her face was a study of contrasts with the surprise, disbelief and happiness expressions all rolled in one. It is still imprinted in my mind. She wanted to run away from there. Probably to have it herself or to share with her people, I don’t know. My father told her to have it there and then in front of him. Probably he knew she might share it and let go by staying hungry. She ate the ice cream so fast that it didn’t look as if she had any. She threw the empty cup in the bin and ran away.
Why am I sharing this? My parents have always been helping people and institutions since the time they could earn. It was easy for them but by the time I came into their lives and grew, the world was too rife with scams and illegal NGOs. The beggars on the crossroads multiplied and the scammers posing as NGO donation collectors increased. One day I asked my mother how I could contribute and help. These are a few of the ways she suggested: –
- See genuine people who need help. It is so that some people are poor but proud. They won’t beg. Help them in ways that don’t directly involve money.
- Help by volunteering for the blind and deaf students. You can meet them in their schools or help them in board exams by writing their papers.
- Visit the old age homes. Give them your time and build your experiences to provide them with good memories.
- Be associated with NGOs that have been genuinely working for long. Institutions for the earnings of blind and handicapped (like Apang Manav Mandal, Ahmedabad) for the destitute women like SEVA are truly working for the cause they uphold.
- Verify the NGOs or organisations who work for the welfare of the different causes and then make contributions. There are organisations like Pratham that help set up libraries / books for children in tribal areas or disadvantaged places.
- Teach India campaign is a successful way to ensure that knowledge never goes to waste. Contribute your time to children’s future. If not this, help your maid’s children with their education.
Random acts of kindness go beyond institutions or disadvantaged people. Sometimes offering water to the delivery boys who come with your parcel or giving some soft drink tetra pack to the rickshawala who is driving long distances on summer days helps. Small simple acts don’t need grand contributions – just simple acts of empathetic kindness. If you are able to instil this in your child, they learn to appreciate human rights and the dignity of labour. They learn to have kindness and empathy within and act accordingly.