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.


Marie said...

The hapless spending has to be curbed on an individual level... Reading this, i felt ashamed thinking of the clothes we dispose off coz we got bored of it.

I realised that and hope more people do. But reaching these people who "really are in need" becomes difficult.
I just don't want to content myself with some meagre donation. How do we make sure that we reach them?

Abhishek Joshi said...

Well, the way the Head of Goonj, the NGO that was featured at XL, said it; "Pehle man se utra, fir tan se utra." That's how he described clothes. So, as soon as it gets out of ur head, head over to the nearest NGO that collects used clothes and hand them over. Someone just might survive the winter because of that gesture. You'll find lots of NGO addresses/contact numbers online, and don't worry about the stuff not reaching the right people. After all, what would anyone do with someone's used clothes but to wear them?

only_truth said...

you seem to be lacking on a lot of info, dear! e.g. "After all, what would anyone do with someone's used clothes but to wear them?"- well,they are sold 2nd hand(i hope you've seen a 2nd hand market) and at the best dumped in some obscure place. very few actually reach the right place, so Marie's scepticism is justified.
also, why don't your blog narrate the horrific state of unclothed little streetchildren? why the titillating 'women menses' syndrome? can't u see the sublinimal effect that little speech had on u? of all the things and stories u seem to recollect only two! THINK dear, if u(plural,the creme of intellect)don't, who will?

Abhishek Joshi said...

dear only_truth,

This space is too limited for us to be fighting over these things. What I hoped for was that the reader would be evolved enough to get the message, to look beyond the women's issues and at the larger picture... At least I made an effort and got out there and collected 5000 + clothes (of all kinds), ensured a supply chain that they got to the right kind of people, and hence contributed in my own small way towards the cause. Apart from commenting on my blog, what did you do, o dear only_truth?