The Art Of Becoming A Seasoned Giver
Giving does hurt a bit in the beginning and then as you do more of it, you train your “Giving” muscle. Then pain goes away and you start to enjoy it
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The other side of giving is receiving. For a very long time in my life this was my favourite side. I was working at an NGO and was getting several donations to implement various development programs designed to help the poor. And so, the thought that I should personally give never occurred to me. To be honest, I thought I was already doing my part by working in the social sector.
To me, I was already giving. All of that changed when DaanUtsav -- the fesitival of giving -- came into my life. Venkat Krishnan -- one of DaanUtsav’s evangelists passionately explained to me that we should “celebrate” giving like we celebrate any other festival in India. He talked about how, irrespective of whoever we are in life -- poor, rich, NGOwallahs or corporate sector guys, we should all give whatever we can, whenever we can.
The idea appealed to me and I decided to switch sides. However, I wanted to do this a little differently. For the first year of Daan Utsav, which lasts a week, I gave myself a challenge -- for seven days, I decided to give seven gifts to seven different people with just one condition, which was to give them something they truly needed.
This was easier said than done. To think about others needs’ is really a tough one and more so when you have spent so much time thinking only about your own needs. But the whole process of doing this activity changed me from inside. To think about others’ needs was truly refreshing and in the end, I successfully completed the challenge by giving seven gifts ranging from a pair of shoes to a brand-new carburettor for a Royal Enfield bike.
In subsequent DaanUtsavs, I cooked meals and raised money. I took people on walks and asked them to donate money for a cause. I also started an activity called “Seva Sandwich” where I made sandwiches with friends and gave them to homeless people living on the streets. This interaction over sandwiches gave me opportunity to know about their lives, hopes and fears. At the end of this activity I would also go home wondering how much role luck plays in what you get in life.
However, one of the most memorable DaanUtsav experiences for me was when I organized an “all-expenses-paid” holiday for my house help and her family. When she came back from the holiday she told me that they had never ever gone on a holiday. Till date, every time she explains what they did on that vacation, her eyes sparkle with joy. It is truly humbling when I think that the experience has created a lifetime of memory for her.
The next step was donating my own money. In the beginning, it was really difficult. Not because I could not afford to give; it’s just that giving your money is a hard job. At first, the amounts were small and then they started becoming bigger and bigger. I also became more comfortable with the idea of donating money. Giving does hurt a bit in the beginning and then as you do more of it, you train your “Giving” muscle. Then pain goes away and you start to enjoy it.
Last DaanUtsav, I took a big leap of faith. I donated a large sum of money to Cash Relief, an initiative that gives unconditional money to people living in extreme poverty and let them decide what they want to do with it.
After I made the donation I felt very relieved. A few years back I would have never thought of making a significant donation. Finally I had arrived at a place in life where I could think of parting away from my wealth to help complete strangers.
Throughout my journey of giving, I have been a part of the picture -- I decided what I wanted to give all along. But now I want to step out of it and continue giving. Maybe then I will be able to live by the adage: “Neki Kar aur dariya mein daal” (Do good without expecting anything in return).
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