the joy of giving

I received an email informing me about a new initiative: the joy of giving week! The mail said: The "Joy of Giving Week" is planned for Sept 27-Oct 3, 2009 as a national movement that aims to engage more than two crore Indians in different "acts of giving" -money, time, resources and skills. The week aims to engage every Indian citizen in "giving back" to society in a way that s/he chooses. From a billionaire writing a large cheque to a poor villager sharing 1 out of his 3 rotis with someone less fortunate, the idea is to create a "festival of philanthropy" that can, over the years, become a part of the Indian ethos, with the Week being celebrated every year covering Gandhi Jayanti. Wow what a great enterprise and how one wishes it works. Actually it should as it has all the ingredients for success: stars, celebrities, media campaigns and more. The email solicited one to spread the message... and let us do just that. The details of the campaign are available on the link given above.

What I want to do is to extol the joy of giving and share with you some of the very gentle ways in which people have reached out to help project why. I have been in the business of soliciting and panhandling for a decade now hoping against hope to ignite the flame of giving in individuals, corporates and others. That it seems to have worked till now is vindicated in the fact that we have been in existence for almost 10 yearsLink. The price one has had to pay is another story waiting to be told. You can find glimpses on it in blogs written in times of despair: be it about the art of giving or the way to do so. If my blogs were ever to be published, they could be happily titled: the saga of giving!

We too initiated our joy of giving week/month year in the form of the one-rupee-a-day initiative and encountered many a storm. Somehow our joy of giving pitch did not quite take off the way we would have wanted. And yet over the past years we have been privy to some of the most beautiful and generous ways of giving that anyone could imagine: the efforts of a very special young lady who refuses to give up on us and has the knack of lifting my spirits when they drop well below zero, the spirit of an incredible woman who puts on her running shoes to ensure that pwhy children keep smiling, the initiative of young business school students who come each year and spread their brand of love, the effort of a young volunteer to make sure that the life of a little scalded child is not wasted, and the many others miracles that drop our way with obsessive regularity urging one not to give up! The tiny efforts of huge hearts that make us believe that all is not lost, even when everything urges you to think otherwise.

There is joy in giving, but it requires you to make a huge effort: that of looking deep into the eyes of a little beggar child knowing that you run the risk of getting lost forever. One does not need to run festivals of philanthropy. Philanthropy lies dormant in each one of us and needs to be awakened and often it happens when you least expect it.