One of the most bewildering things over the last decade and more has been the total lack of support financial or of any other kind from what I could maybe call my peers. By this I mean my fellow Indians who hail from the same social strata as I do and better ones. I can say with authority laced with sadness that not even 1% of our costs have been met by such people and that is not from want of asking. When I set up project why way back in 1998, it is to these very people that I turned. The husband's classmates from a prestigious school, members of illustrious clubs the husband belonged to and so on. I must admit in hindsight that I had no such contacts having led a rather nomadic childhood and teenage. Anyway all I was asking at that time was a mere 100 rs a month. The result was abysmal. Again barely 1% of those I contacted responded! It did not take me a long time to seek other pastures. That this worked is amply proved by the fact that we are still in existence!
The attitude of the what we call rich Indians has always appalled me. I cannot forget the scathing remarks made by a chi chi lady when I told her about our boarding school programme. She was outraged at the very thought of the child of a rag picker studying in the same class as middle class kids. This was absolute anathema! I can also never forget how ladies from a very reputable social club brought heaps of well packed toys for our children; the catch was that they were all broken toys. When I called the lady in charge to inform her of the same she retorted: Oh, but these are toys for slum kids
. What she meant was that broken toys were good enough for them. I told her that my kids played with proper toys or not toys at all. I also asked her where I could send all the toys back! Time and again 'rich' people have dumped their garbage at our doorstep in the guise of charity
! I have been outraged more than once. Now I simply refuse any such donations. We need to keep our dignity intact no matter what. Rich India is not yer ready to accept the kind of charity I believe in and which is so well described in St Exupery's words: Charity never humiliated him who profited from it, nor ever bound him by the chains of gratitude, since it was not to him but to God that the gift was made.
Till then I will take solace in Hade Bejar's words: The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose
Oops I sort of forgot what prompted this post.The husband showed me a letter he had written to the co-members of the upmarket golf club he belongs to. Th story goes something like this: caddies of the club are daily wagers who make money by caddying for members. At best I guess on a good day they would caddy twice, but I am sure some days they do not get even a game! Their caddying fees are fixed by the club committee and each members has to pay them at least that sum. Some time back the committee decided to up the fee by a paltry 20 Rs. Keeping the inflation we all know of the sum seems measly. One would think that no member would have objected. At best you play 10 games a month so all that is asked of you is a mere 200 rs. One would also think that 200 rs is nothing for members of such a prestigious club! Not at all. Some members were up in arms! Needless to say that to be member of this club you have to be moneyed. The letter the husband wrote is one I am terribly proud of as it defended the rights of the voiceless caddies.
Why wonder why rich people are so much against the rights of the poor. It is a reality that we have to learn to live with.The build invisible yet impregnable walls
to keep the poor out, they put up gates
, they behave like ostriches when faced with disturbing statistics
, they drop their coin in the beggar's bowl but never have the courage to look into their eyes, they have their charity agendas (feed the poor on particular days, send your rubbish to an NGO, attend page 3 NGO dos etc) and feel they have done their bit. When will they learn to see with their heart and understand the meaning of this old proverb: A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog..