Sunday, 4 July 2010

Charity, yes but coupled with empowerment

As I type these few lines inside, the distribution of notebooks to the deserving children is going on outside in the Seminary campus. Fr KT is all about the place ensuring that only those 'deserving' get the books and that others do not hijack the opportunity. That's a rather difficult task given the fact that everyone wants a piece (as big as possible) of a free cake! To then distinguish those who really are the deserved ones from those who can manage perhaps the biggest challenge. However, that so many children are helped annually with their studies is indeed a very noble task.

All said and done, I still have my reservations about the help we give. We still thrive in that old 'give and help' model, rather make a shift to the 'help and empower' model. I know it is easier said than done, but unless we make that shift, we never really 'help'. Some ways in which I see that this shift can be made are the following (drawing inspiration from the movie, Pay it forward):
  • Get these children (and especially their parents) to commit to completing their basic studies.
  • Ensure that these children put in their best (if they are not serious about their studies, pull back the educational support extended to them and offer it to those really serious about their studies)
  • Put into the heads and hearts of these children that this help now being offered to them has to be replicated by them to others when they are able to stand on their own two feet. (It is surprising to see those children who once received help, now married and have children of their own, coming back to again ask for help for their children!!). Fr KT tells me that of the thousands helped so far, only one has come forward to help others, now that he is well settled.
Charity is a good thing but setting a movement by which each one, in whatever capacity is able to help, joins in is indeed a greater act. It liberates and empowers.

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