Friday, August 21, 2009

The Joy of Giving Week

Before I talk about the event I just came from, I'd like to share a small story that I heard ages ago.
So, there was this successful manager at a big company, Max, making bucketloads of cash, working in New York, driving a Lexus, renting an apartment in Manhattan, you know, the works. One Christmas, after shopping at Bloomingdales for his younger brother, he was on his way back home when he saw this kid trying to flag down a ride, apparently home. He stopped his car, asked the kid to get in. Joe was his name. He was twelve years of age. He lived in an apartment on the way to Max's home. So, how Max asked Joe about himself. Joe then told him that his mother was a widow, and that he had a younger brother, Jim. His mother worked as a seamstress and Joe helped out at his uncle's shop. So, on the whole, it wasn't really a very pretty picture. Joe asked Max what was in the big box in the back seat. He replied that it was a gift for his brother who was in college. Joe looked longingly at the box. Max ask him, "What are you thinking about, Joe?"
"I wish," Joe said, "I wish I could be a brother like that."

I remember hearing this story in school in an elocution contest. And I also remember tears streaming down all my friends' eyes as this piece ended.
Coming back to today, at the inaugural function of the Joy of Giving Week when Anshu Gupta, the chief of the NGO 'Goonj', narrated to us accounts of people who lack the very things we take for granted; food, housing, and most importantly, clothes. He spoke of women who have to use rags, and sometimes even sand during their menses because they don't have even a clean piece of cloth to use as a sanitary napkin. He told us accounts of women in Rajasthan who don't have a uterus because they had to be operated upon because they'd get Cervical cancer otherwise. 'Scary' would be an understatement. Horrifying would be more like it. In a country which has one of the largest numbers of billionaires in the world, for people to live like this is simply unacceptable.
So, the answer is to just give. Not just clothes, or shoes, or money, but even your time. Think for a moment about all you have. Count your blessings.
Be like Joe.