Showing posts with label Poor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poor. Show all posts

Monday, October 22, 2012

Overflowing.. [296/365]

Give and you will receive.

Luke 6:38

Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room, running over and poured into your lap. While some might argue that the amount you give will determine the amount you get back, I say, the attitude with which you give will determine how much you get back.

A decade ago, I met an incredibly resilient yet very poor lady. Shortly after she was born, she had juvenile diabetes and began to loose her vision. When she was 10 years old, a quack at a medical facility near her home botched up a surgery and he ended up snipping the nerves to her eyes. She has been blind ever since. Add to that, her family has tried exploiting her condition and when they had enough, they abandoned her. Now 67, she lived all these years on government welfare. When I met her, she had a PCO (Public Call Office aka Phone Booth) and that was sufficient for her hostel fees and food. A couple of years ago, she was allotted a land 19 kms outside Bangalore by the government and they told her to do the rest. It took her 6 years to build a house with one room, one toilet and one kitchen. They don't have running water but got electricity just a few months ago. Her benefactors have helped her in measures. Some by donating a couple of thousands and others by giving construction material.
In the past few months, her health has deteriorated to such a degree that she is unable to run the phone booth. Recently, she suffered a wound that became gangrenous. Unfortunately, the hospital that she visited wouldn't treat her for free. While there were hospitals that would treat her for free, she still needed money for a long-term medical care.
I had to help. We decided to raise Rs 15000/- (about $270). I put the cause forward to my tight-knit church prayer group and we decided to raise money through a fund-raiser.
After weeks of planning and campaigning, I had my first fund-raiser last week. We sold breakfast to hungry church-goers and we'd just made Rs 15000 !
I won't claim success or any form of victory but I can say this fund-raiser brought all of us together in a way that only goodness and kindness can. It was a huge testament to how caring people really are.

I learned a valuable lesson too. I have been ignoring my obligation to the lesser fortunate for way too long now. While we were earning 7 figure salaries, we thought less of giving and passing on His blessings and more on how we could increase our standard of living. We all do. We have been ignoring that silent voice asking for our help and this instance taught us the importance of giving. 

Often when we think of generosity we usually think of giving money. This isn't always the case, and we can be more generous with so much more. We can donate our possessions, time or relationships.

We often thought we would not be able to buy what we wanted if we gave away. We'd always procrastinate but it would never happen. Our wants and needs were endless. Try ignoring that feeling inside you that says you will lose too much when you give too much. It's incredible what comes back to you in return when you freely give.

Three weeks ago, when we wanted to raise Rs 15000, we thought it was a huge amount. But when people came together for the cause, God enabled us to raise that money. How many times have you thought you won't get anything in return? If you've thought that, take heart. You will - Pressed down, running over, shaken together and poured into your lap.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Will Beg for Wealth

A common sight at any traffic light stop worth its salt, as soon as the lights turn red you'll find an army of beggars, slick salesmen selling the latest fad toy and a couple of eunuchs.

Squeezing between cars, dodging the 2 and 3 wheelers that grind to a halt, they knock on tinted glasses peering inside, tug at your trousers and tap on your hands.
All begging you for your attention and a few coins.

What bothers me is how we treat these people.
Of the 14 years that I have been in India, I have seen many many beggars. The number of beggars seem to  have exploded in the recent weeks! Victims of Inflation? I don't think so.
Because they hardly look like the kind of people who would have too much to worry about. Their work hours are highly flexible, they can call in sick and if they do then they get more money, they take their comfort breaks whenever they please and they don't have to bother about any promotions. They get to travel and if they look miserable and horrible, then thats a bonus.

They don't need to worry about unwanted pregnancies because having a miserable looking child tightly hugged in their arms is an added advantage. I wonder where most of them get the feeding bottle that has what appears to be half filled (always) with milk.

Skills? They need to have very minimal verbal skills but excellent mind reading capabilities.
Because I've noticed that in the first 5 seconds that they look at you, they will figure out if you are the gullible type who will fall for their 'misery' and fish for a coin out of your pocket or if you are the hard hearted creature that is not worth their pitch.
I am the second type. Although I am not hard hearted, I shake my heart in the general direction of the individual and they take the cue. Some are persistent and I've noticed that this happens only if there is a female member present with me. Excellent psychological profiling, I must admit.

However, I do notice them. As a habit, I enjoy reading the thoughts of absolute strangers and these beggars, many of who are regulars at the traffic stop at Brigade road seem emancipated yet if you look at them while they are having their lunch or between work (which is when the lights are green) then you'll not see a tinge of sadness.
For many of us, who can have their lunch only at times that are scheduled by our Managers, these people seem to be having it easy. They don't need to wait for the end of the month for payday. If you ask me, I'd say many of these people are richer than any of us. With so much income coming in and almost zero expences, heck, you need to tax these people !

Some of them carry a crutch and feign a limp. What a scam!

Many of them are victims of circumstance. People who shouldn't be there in the first place. People who just want a lot of your money in their pockets.
But who among us isn't a victim of fate and circumstance?
We all have disabilities. Some of us have problems being committed to their partners and spouses, some of us have problems excelling at work, some of us have problems emoting to our loved ones and then there are some of us who will struggle all our lives to achieve the Great Indian Dream.

If people who are not poor but find ways to feign poverty to gain sympathy and thereby our money, would you call them beggars or con artists?
With a action of the hand that simulates eating, our beggars have almost perfected art of living off our sympathy. Kids are a commodity. Handicapped? Excellent. Couple that with the rags, the dried streaks of tears and the malnourished kids that are tied so tightly to the lady, that if not hunger, suffocation will surely kill 'it'. What is happening of that child when he/she grows up? Ordinary people fortunate to afford good health care are reeling with the effects of pollution, global warming, inflation and corruption. What about these kids, who are also our future citizens?
We are slowly but surely chewing our own tail.

When there is so much charity going around and with so many more people giving, why are there so many beggars in the streets of India?
I have seen ordinary people living in squalid slums and dilapidated houses, with little or no money (saved or earned) but with integrity and self respect that disallows them from begging.
With a burning desire to earn a respectable living, they strive to get ahead in life. And sometimes, more often than not their descendants live a better life.

Our inclination for handouts and free stuff, our aversion to anything that resembles hard work and the lack of vocational training that is competitive enables beggars to breed, both in literally and otherwise.

Very few nations are free from beggars but when a foreigner talks and reminisces about India, the beggars are surely going to be one of the sore sights. Of course gathering all of them and 'disposing' them off away from our sight is also not the thing to do. But we need to radically change the way we think and act.
Discourage begging. Encourage entrepreneurship. Provide free health care (Put all our Tax Rupees to better use). Ofcourse we can never wipe off poverty from India, but we can certainly make our Race a lot less notorious.

Next Week, I take on the Eunuchs of Bangalore! Yay!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Life without Laugh

We Christians are a joyless lot!

Preoccupied with maintaining our dignity in the eyes of people who we might never ever see again.
A very good friend of mine is so obsessed with complying with Christianity that he hates Social networking, Rock/Rap music and anything that he thinks is 'un'Christian.

There is a typical Indian superstition where you are supposed to believe that if we laugh excessively, then we will weep in agony very soon.
This is an odd attitude, because being joined to God, who gave us such wonderful emotions as Joy and laughter, we in some way imagine that by being joyful, we are being devious.

Outwardly a firm believer, many of us are hollow inside. Namesakes.
Its okay to have fun!

Every family, big and small. Every human, rich and poor. Every creature, young and old expresses joy and happiness in different ways.

But why do Christians always have a 'constipated look' on their faces when it comes to having fun?!
Laughter is a gift of God and His goodness that will carry us through the dark bylanes of life.

Part of the joy that comes to you when you are reborn in Christ is that you learn to rejoice in the Lord.
You learn to wake up with praise on your lips and smile in your eyes.

No matter how bad the past was, you can always be comforted that your future is in your hands. Do you want to be seen as a person who lives in past and waste all the wonderful joy that God wants you to enjoy!

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