Compassion - Charity Lessons
by Sandhya Ramachandran
Charity does not just involve giving away because in the process you are helping and healing
yourself as well. Religions of the world teach us to be kind and compassionate. When you do an
act of charity, you have indeed blessed yourself. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism
and all major religions across the world encourage compassion and teach us that we must try to
alleviate the suffering of others. The happiness experienced when you help someone in need is
invigorating. A lot of times, we are so caught up in the humdrum of daily life, that we seldom think
about others. We are so caught up with office work and other duties, that our entire existence
revolves around ourselves. We get so involved with our personal problems and personal life. If we
pause and take two minutes to look around and reflect, we can observe the unfortunate plight of so
many people. There are so many who are homeless and hungry, destitute and impoverished.
There are terminally ill patients who are struggling for survival. Children as young as five or six are stricken with diseases like diabetes and thalassemia. While there are normal children frolicking around enjoying the blissfulness of childhood, there are other young children battling life- threatening illnesses in hospitals. There are senior citizens who have been abandoned by their families because they are old and a burden now. There are orphans who have been forsaken by their parents or whose parents are no longer alive. These children are forced to call orphanages their homes. The senior citizens have to consider the old age shelter their home. This shelter above them will provide protection from the sun, rain and other harsh elements of nature, but rarely it provides the warmth and love of a real home. If we just look around and notice, we will see all this and the myriad problems existing in society around us.
Religions teach us to give and serve society. On any given Saturday or Sunday, we can pay a visit to an orphanage and distribute sweets to the children. Whilst we have so much to eat and enjoy so many delicacies, we can provide something to them too as it will be a change for them. We can go to a children’s hospital for cancer patients and give some toys to the small children who are fighting a horrible disease like cancer at such a tender age. Charity can be very rewarding to you and the recipient. Besides giving yourself, encourage and inspire others around you to give as well. Inculcate values of charity in your children and teach them to be empathetic to all those they meet.
Charity by the poor
Sometimes we come across rich people who are so miserly and self centered. We have also seen poor people with little or nothing themselves, but they are so selfless and charitable. Recently I read a story about an auto rickshaw driver from Mumbai who prefers to give away from his earnings to those more needy than him. The story was so touching and I was really moved. This man whose name is Mr. Sandeep Bachhe, drives an auto rickshaw from 8am to 10pm every day. He has painted signs on his auto which say that he offers 25 percent discount for the handicapped and free rides for blind passengers up to Rs. 50. Not just this, once every week or whenever he has extra income, he donates tooth brushes, toothpastes, soap, hair oil, and other items of daily use to an old age women’s home in Andheri. This shows that large heartedness has nothing to do with affluence. There was an incident of a little girl who was terribly hungry and had nothing to eat but when she saw another boy begging for food, she shared her little bread with him. These stories show us that the human spirit can sacrifice and bear suffering on oneself, in order to make someone else’s day better. These are people who are ready to give up on what they want so that someone else can benefit. There are very few people in this world who do not aspire for a life of luxury. When such people find that even the basic needs are met, they prefer to spend their additional income on others more needy. They are satisfied leading a simple life with basic requirements fulfilled and want to use the rest of their money for the deprived people in society.
Relating with the cause
One important reason why people donate to charity is because they can relate to the sufferer. A person who has suffered from cancer knows how cancer patients feel. He can understand their suffering because he has experienced it himself. He is able to have compassion and sympathy for the cancer patient. There have been many cases wherein people have lost a loved one to a tragic incident and have started a foundation to help other victims and families. Like numerous other similar stories, there is one such story from Australia. This small girl from Australia suffered severe injuries in a car accident and her legs had to be amputated from below the knee. This horrific accident in which she was trapped under a burning car resulted in her losing some fingers and right ear along with 85% body burns. Her father has now started a charity foundation to help and save other children with serious burn injuries. People often donate to charity because of their own personal experiences. Many a time they take up a cause which is close to their heart because they themselves have been affected by it or someone close to them has been affected. A person who has overcome cancer might be interested in donating to a cancer foundation or helping in some other way.
Doing voluntary work
Doing voluntary work is a form of charity which you can participate in. Many people who have free time or want to do something for society, take up unpaid voluntary jobs. They go to a home for the handicapped, or old age home and spend some time with the inmates. Like some people offer to teach handicapped people or children with special needs. They are more than happy to volunteer their services for free. If you are good with computers, you can try to teach computers to disabled children and adults. A lot of time, it is not just money that can help. Helping a person develop a skill or educating them will enable them to become self sufficient individuals. For example, if a young woman is taught sewing or some other skill, her chances of finding a job will increase because she has been trained in that particular activity. Providing emotional support to those in crisis can also really uplift that person. Volunteering by providing emotional support helps to relieve stress in the life of the person who is distressed and you can make a real difference. Volunteering will enrich your life too. While you may not get a fat paycheck at the end of the day, you will surely experience immense satisfaction and feel amazing.
Charity can change
Charity benefits both the doer and the receiver. There is a quote which says, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. Charity will change you and also bring a glow on the person’s face who has been the receiver. Charity can bring immense satisfaction to you. You can be charitable in any way. You can choose to provide voluntary services or provide monetary support. Many a time, natural calamities strike the Earth like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc. During such times, we may not be able to provide voluntary services, but we can help with donations to legitimate organizations. The workings of some organizations are transparent and they have a clean record. We can try to donate to these organizations. Some people also pledge to donate their organs after death. This is also a noble deed and a form of charity. You can register to donate organs like eyes, skin, etc. The person who is the recipient of your kindness will be immensely grateful to you forever. Imagine, a blind man can actually start seeing because you donated your eyes. A person who sponsors the education of a child with no parents is doing a great service to society. By educating a child, you are securing its future and giving it hope. He will then have the capability and skill to take up a good job. There is a quote which says “Charity begins at home.” This can be taken in the literal sense. Everybody keeps a servant in their house for household chores and various other duties. Every Saturday and Sunday, or whenever you get time, try to teach your maid or servant English. If they do not know the language, then learning English can give them confidence. They will be able to manage their life better. Otherwise, if they have a son or daughter, you can offer to help the child in his or her studies. By doing charity, you are bringing hope into someone’s life. “When you were born, everyone around you was smiling and you were crying. Live your life so that when you die, you're smiling and everyone around you is crying” is a popular quote. Truly, we must nurture the spirit of giving because after all it is the good deeds which we do that remain long after we are no more. Let the ripples of kindness pass on, so that everybody can experience sunshine in their life.
- Sandhya Ramachandran
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