The Process Of Effective Giving

Jan 19, 10 The Process Of Effective Giving
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By Masami Sato

A new development is revolutionizing many lives in the hamlets of India by bringing brightness where there used to be blackness.

An article was published in The New York Times named, “Husk Power for India.”  Current, which is routinely available in the lives of most in industrialized nations, is an unimaginable luxury in out-of-the-way corners of emerging countries.  What was once fodder for cattle is now used to produce current – rice husks.

Raised in the rural state of Bihar, Manoj Sinha understood what it was like to sit in darkness.  Being an engineer with Intel Corporation he had all the ability to bring alive the dream of a lifetime.  He led the advancement of his power equipment that produces electricity from rice husks and other farm waste and now he trades it to hamlets across India.

Sinha is what could be called a social entrepreneur because he feels business is a solution to key social issues.  “Business leaders must realize (sic) that the world’s poor need investments more than handouts,” he says, adding, “These are customers, not victims.”

The article inspired me to think about giving in a different way leading me to ask myself, “What is the most effective form of giving?”  Is it education, commercial activity, or disaster relief?  There are so many ways to make a difference.  One way of giving can seem more effective or sustainable than other ways depending on the way it is expressed, looked at, or implemented.

I then came to delineate there were eight segments to giving.  So, let me chart out the eight differences; which in effect are often ‘stages’ of giving as well.

Stage 1:  Necessity – Saving and helping others who are afflicted by natural catastrophe, contagious diseases, or other unmanageable conditions.

Stage 2:  Respite – Providing respite from enduring need, poverty, ill health, disadvantages or prejudice which otherwise would continue or deteriorate because of the lack of awareness, training, or resources.

Stage 3:  Curing and Defending – Morally, bodily, and spiritually.  Many people carry scars that may be invisible but strongly constricting their lives.  Giving the cure to release the long-standing suffering creates more chances for them while giving necessary defense gives them a feeling of security.

Stage 4:  Training – Giving better training, knowledge, and skill instruction to create empowered and practical solutions to resource creation, while encouraging people to identify their singular talent to survive.

Stage 5:  Innovative Investment – Giving a helping hand, cash, or material to those who have the ability to make a change.  This gets weighed many times as the materials increase and is passed on to several others who again create more out of the chances given.

Stage 6:  Tenability – Working together with the people in the local surroundings, creating tenable groups -ambiance-wise and reciprocally.

Stage 7:  Empowerment – Enabling and motivating the people to release their true ability and power to make changes.  In this group of sharing, the aim of giving changes from ‘giving to the people who want’ to ‘giving people a chance to give to others’ and to the society.

Stage 8:  Caring – Just doing whatever we want to, while cherishing and caring for others.  No tactic or expected result exists in this phase of giving.  ‘Giving’ does not even exist here in the conventional sense of the word, as there is no sense of ownership, reasoning, or yearning to alter anything.  This is where we do not even have to worry about anything; we give as a part of our own delightful sense of being.

What we also find is that at each of these eight stages of giving there are different things that the giver receives:

1.) Sense of bonding

2.)  Sense of well being

3.)  Relief from pain (our own)

4.)  Gratitude for our own knowledge, skills, and circumstances

5.)  Long-term sense of involvement and fulfillment for our own life

6.)  Improved environment for our own life and for the lives for all those we love and care for

7.)  Soul gratifying encouragement and devotion to our own purpose

8.)  Love

Sharing has many stages and sensations based upon the donor and receiver.  In addition, the ‘phases’ do not detail which one is of more importance than the other.  All are mandatory.

I was lucky to have an experience early in 2008 while journeying with a group of devoted entrepreneurs across India to see how we could be more productive in our helping.  I was particularly happy to have one outstanding encounter that led me to think about what ‘actual giving’ really meant.

We were travelling in a small town one day.  Four of us had just called a taxi to take us to another nearby town.  We dealt with the driver cautiously as our hotel staff had forewarned us about the possible swindle when they see that we were not local.

We halted briefly in front of the local train station for a short recess on the way.  While the others went to use the restroom, I tried to chat with our taxi driver standing near his vehicle.  With his limited knowledge of English and a wonderful smile that showed his blackened front teeth, he told me that he had a house on the suburbs of the town and he had a sweet wife and two lovely kids who went to the
local school – I felt a strong bonding with him.

I patted him on the back for having an affectionate family and told him that I also had two kids of the same age as his.  When the others came back, the driver instantly asked us to come to his house for food.  I thought it was just a formality he wanted to convey at first.  However, after leaving us at the centre of the town, he was particular that he would wait for us until we were done with our traveling around the town.  And he actually did.  I was in fact quite taken aback to see him still standing by the side of the road next to his taxi even after an hour.  We hopped back into the taxi and he whizzed off up the road to where his home was.

When we reached there we were really quite taken aback to see how he was living.  It was more or less similar (if not worse) to the standard of people dwelling in slums we had visited before.  From the gleaming new taxi he was driving, who could have thought this.  As the car turned into the narrow unsealed road between the hut-like houses that were constructed with crudely made concrete blocks and painted mud walls, we felt contrite about having agreed to his invitation.  For a brief moment, I
felt mortified.  “How could I have exploited the generosity of a man who didn’t seem to have anything and I didn’t even get any edible stuff or presents for his family”, I thought.

As we walked into his house, we saw a pan and small stove on the mud floor.  His very shy wife nodded blushing in surprise and disappeared into the small storeroom (a cupboard size) next to it.  As I looked in, I saw the next-door neighbours handing over some teacups to his wife over the crumbled concrete fence.  They didn’t even have extra teacups in their house.  There was only one small room fitted out with one single bed and an old galvanized chest next to it.

The taxi driver quickly pulled out three hand-woven rugs from the chest and rolled them out on the small patch of mud floor putting one on the bed.

Steaming cups of tea and hot snacks arrived soon.  Both his kids as well as kids from the neighbouring houses came to see us and remained at the doorway.  The six of us could just squeeze into the tiny room.  I was curious to know where his children were sleeping.  I thought that maybe they had another space somewhere.  To my astonishment, he just pointed at the chest and said with his happy smile that it was their bed.

He happily told us that he was an amateur dancer in the town and showed us some plaques on the sill above the bed.  Enthusiastic to show us his dancing proficiency, he ran outside all at once.  From somewhere music came flowing into the tiny room.  He had no apparatus for music within the
house, it was coming from outside.  Surprised, I looked around to see him reversing his vehicle towards the back of his house keeping the doors open with the radio of the car blaring forth!

The time quickly passed (dancing together and having more cups of tea) and it was finally time to say thank you for their great hospitality and head on our way.  As we stood up to leave and thank him and his wife, he reached to the best looking rug on the bed, rolled it up and handed it to us.  It was one of the only few things he had.  I could not believe he offered it to us.

We all respectfully refused his gift and came out saying goodbye to everyone waving at us.  We got perplexed about this whole thing.  Should we have offered some cash to the family as they obviously had limited means?  Should we have agreed to take his wonderful gift?

As I was thinking about this awe-inspiring experience after a few days, I considered our begging off his gift.  He looked crest-fallen that we didn’t accept the gift.  It wasn’t only the rejecting of the gift that remained in my mind.

I realised that the sense of discomfort I felt was actually coming from perceiving him as less fortunate.  I was thinking that I couldn’t possibly take anything from someone who had so little.

But did he really have so little?  Maybe he had more – a lot more.

Maybe the greatest gift we could have given him then was to receive his gift in total respect and gratitude.

All acts of giving and receiving are necessary for us to fill our world with abundance and fulfillment equally for both giver and receiver.  We can start doing this instead of judging and justifying one over another.  The pure act of giving and receiving requires no further explanation.

Manoj Sinha’s words continue to reverberate in my mind, “these are customers, not victims.”  I can picture the happy faces of the rural folk who are now pleased to have power in their hamlets and the kids who now can read books and happily do their homework at night.

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1 Comment

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