Anne Frank once said “No one has ever become poor by giving”. What a beautiful thought to keep in mind as we celebrate Giving Tuesday on December 3rd of this year. The act of giving can do wonders for a person’s spirit, soul and general well-being. Whether you give time, financial support, a lending hand, a listening ear or encouraging words, the act of giving is unique in that it often benefits the giver as much, or even more, than the receiver. This is something that I can attest to now more than ever before.
A few weeks ago, I visited Tanzania. I run a small Canadian Not for Profit Organization that works to fund the educational needs of women and children in and around Arusha. This was my first trip to Tanzania and the first time to meet all of the wonderful families that are involved in my organization. Helping these families has always made me feel good. I always felt like it was an equal partnership where I would provide financial assistance through fundraising in Canada and the Tanzanian women and children would allow me a glimpse into their life from afar. However, what I realized from spending ten days with these amazing people is that the partnership really isn’t equal at all. In fact, I truly believe that what I have received from these incredibly strong, spiritual, kind, compassionate and caring families is much more than what I have given them.
The author with a student in Tanzania.
Let me explain how the power of giving has changed my life. I donate countless hours of time to help those in the Mom2Mom Africa organization. Why? It makes me happy.
It fulfills me in ways that I can’t explain. I feel a sense of purpose, like I am making a difference, albeit very small, but nonetheless, a difference in the world. My charity work completes me and makes me feel like a whole person. I can’t explain why…it just does. But, the ten days that I spent in Tanzania last month, visiting families and spending time at the schools has changed my life forever. I have never experienced anything so powerful in all of my life. Yes, I gave up family time to spend in Tanzania and I gave up quite a bit financially to pay for the trip. But, NOTHING could prepare me for what I was given in return. My life has been changed by simply spending time with these families over the course of my time in Africa. They breathed fresh air and a new life into me by just being themselves. Their sense of community, their compassion towards one another, and their love of life despite many struggles has inspired me in ways that I still have yet to process and understand. The power of giving has never been more apparent to me. It can change lives. It has changed mine.
Today, on Giving Tuesday, I am begging you to give of yourself. Whether it be time, a lending hand or financial assistance…give.
Give to someone who may need your help, whether it be across the ocean or right in your backyard. What you will get back in return will outweigh what you have given. I can promise you that. Giving of oneself has the power to change the world in so many ways. It is reciprocal. What you put into giving, will come back to you in abundance.
That is the power of giving. Giving changes all lives involved. As Anne Frank also said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”. So give. Change the world. You can do it. What may seem like a small act of giving can mean a world of difference to someone else.
On this Giving Tuesday, consider helping a family in Tanzania by purchasing a personalized desk for our schools, school uniforms, or school textbooks. You will bring a smile to the face of a child in Tanzania. And that, I guarantee, will bring a smile to your face, as well! Happy Giving Tuesday!
How do you plan to give back this Giving Tuesday?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog Written by Alison Fraser.
Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.
Well, there were these competitions going on in my seven year old son’s school again, here, in India. This time it was Western Music. I am so fond of these musicals. My son sang some of my favorites and then Que Sara Sara and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. He continued to the preliminaries, quarter finals, semi-finals and the finals. But one day while preparing for the finals at home, my son suddenly said, “Not all are going to win.”
I said, “Yes, they are not. But if you want to win, you need to practise.”
He was not the type of person who was interested to sing, but the type who loved to listen to music and songs. And I discovered this during this time.
“But amma, I don’t care.”
“Well, you should do your best. And then if you don’t get to win, that is fine. But you should not just give up.”
“I am not giving up. I just don’t want to sing.”
Well, I was at a loss of words. I did not want him to do something he did not want to do. But then we were already into the finals, and I thought was it not a sheer waste if he did not even participate? This got me thinking…
The next day I found this quote in his school’s website.
We send our children to school for education and the teachers and parents are loving and affectionate and try to encourage the children to imbibe knowledge.
But then, what do they actually learn? Only what they chose to!
And also, sometimes they don’t learn and at other times they are very smart in academics. They also indulge in sports and other extra-curricular activities. We are happy, sometimes sad, and at times indifferent to various achievements, successes and failures and mediocre performances of our children. So many choices, actions, results, and yet Swami Vivekananda says we are all perfect.
If everyone is perfect, then where are the gaps? Why do only some people win? Why are there so many differences and scales of grades? ‘Manifestation’ is the significant word. What manifests out of a child is important. And whatever manifests, the society, the parents and the teachers are responsible to some extent. And then the children themselves are finally responsible. We bring up a child, giving him a lot of room to explore, think, discover and find joy, and, thereby, allow him to manifest his perfection.
I did not ask him to practise a lot for the singing competition. If he is not interested, let him not be. Maybe he is interested in building robots. Maybe he is interested in literary pursuits. Maybe he is interested in astronomy when he points out the pole star and Venus.
Because he is talented to sing, does not mean he should want to do it or become the next pop star. Whatever he allows to be manifested from himself, only will be, and I cannot force it.
And the reason for what he focuses on, no one can understand. It is his own mind acting under his own will and there are no explanations for that. So, let me not put a restraint to the manifestation of his perfection. Let him lay down his own options and channel his own interests.
In the end, he did end up participating in the finals, but without practising and the results are not out! But I shouldn’t care about the results because he doesn’t, right?
Is your child exercising independence in what he wants to do in life and what he wants to achieve? If so, are they different from what you think? And how do you handle it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Purnima, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.
Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here .
She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award .
She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page .
She also contributes to Huffington Post .
Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!
This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.
She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.