ON GIVING BACK
Most are aware by now that I have recently migrated. And though it was a well thought of, carefully deliberated upon decision, we still had our doubts. Ours was the most well taken care of relocation, in terms of moving stuff, finding a home and school… everything was planned and provided for. And still…. still we had our moments.
Then curiosity led me to attend a Women’s Day special where four refugee women were to talk about their experiences. As I heard them speak, I felt small. It struck me that whatever our challenges be, somebody out there is having it tougher than us.
These women had been refugees since the time they had arrived from strife ridden countries like Congo and Rwanda, some more than ten years. Their applications for asylum were under scrutiny and the basis I was told is that it should be conclusively proven that their lives are in grave danger if they return to their native countries. Till the time they aren’t granted asylum they cannot work. It sounds ridiculous but that’s how a system works.
One of them narrated an incident that had me in tears. When she had just landed with three kids in tow, thankful to be alive but unsure what to do, someone directed her to a shelter. There they gave her canned food. She was incredulous because she just didn’t know what to do with it. She didn’t even have a can-opener to open it. Leaving the can there, tugging her kids along, she left. This and many more stories later, I was numb.
I felt embarrassed, almost apologetic of the privileges I had, despite the fact that they haven’t been bestowed upon me, I have earned every bit of it. And its not that I don’t do my bit of charity but somehow that session shook me up enough to re-look at my blessed life. And the moral responsibility that comes with a life like this, to give a hand to those who are not as privileged as us.
Choose a cause, pick your means; it could be your time…. your money…. your network…. anything…. and get just get down to it. Often what stymies us, is the enormity of the situation and we just feel too small to be able to make a difference. But if we can make even a wee bit of difference in anyone’s life, believe me it counts.
I’ll let you in on a secret of mine. I have a very selfish motive behind the urge to give back. I want to be remembered long after I’m gone. I don’t know how many of you have heard that song from ‘Do Beegha Zameen’-Apni kahani chod ja, Kuch to nishani chod ja’ roughly translated as, leave a mark behind you. even if its one life that became better because of my efforts, I’d feel my job is done.
What would your reason be? And what would your means be? Give it a good thought and wouldn’t I love to hear from you.
P.S.: I do apologise of weighing you down on a relaxed Saturday morning. Don’t be offended but do enjoy the humour when Betty Reese says, “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
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