Friday, June 8, 2012

Giving During Broken Times

Giving.  Just saying the word leaves many a little fearful.  What if they want more from me?  What if I wind up on some sort of mailing list?  What if I am exploited? Actually, these questions came up when I went on a search for a charity because I wanted to find a foreign child to connect with.  The sentiment within a lot of countries that are going through austere times is "we need to take care of our own." or "we already give."  I remained silent.  I heard the words before.  I said the words myself.  However, I looked at the 'type' of giving our nation usually does and honestly, throwing money at a problem doesn't do much for a problem. 

In our giving, there is something within us that wants it to be authentic, from the heart, unasked for and simply appreciated.  Maybe in a way, it just makes us feel better.  We want our hearts to be alive with the knowledge we have helped someone.  We define it.  Whatever the motivation, within us, we hear that call towards giving, and to be honest, many of us cringe.  The first thing many people think about is their wallet.  They don't think about their possessions, time or talent.  In some ways, many charities have also made it very difficult TO give and TO receive.

I started searching.  I was looking for something very specific.  I wanted to sponsor a child through a humanitarian program that was not affiliated with the IMF, a government organization, the World Bank, any religious organization and I was able to find three that looked really good.  One was an orphanage that to my surprise had enough sponsors and had a DONOR waiting list.  I had read about all of the funds going directly to the children, great correspondence, willingness to encourage visits and donors received monthly expense reports.  When you encounter a great steward of resources, it's understandable WHY people are attracted to this organization.

I submitted a request to be a donor, but my search went on.

I was actually frustrated with a number of organizations that stopped child sponsorship, calling it a 'waste of money'.  With technology advances, you don't have to spend money on postage when emails and photos can be sent via email.  Where did these children come from?  What was their story?  What kind of opportunities are they going to be afforded besides food and clothing?  What kind of hardships did they need assistance with?  What level of involvement was needed?  Nope, it's a waste of money to correspond with these children.  We just want your money and just trust us to help them out.  The skeptic in me saw their poverty being used in a negative way. 

Other organizations are busy trying to 'save souls' and want you to buy religious books and fund schools for heavily impoverished areas.  Maybe they might build a well, but to me, it looks a little like a religious organization exploiting their poverty in order to sell their message of hope.  What if the child rejects their message and just wants to play, eat, and have a safe place to be?  Would the organization reject them (as I have heard stories of aid workers being rejected because they don't share beliefs, but had the necessary vocational skills required...I think this is a valid question)?

Giving should be intentional.  The giving I have done in the past has been on multiple levels, from teaching, to service, to tangible items, time and even just an ear to listen, an eye to see and a smile. 

Giving should be without thought of reward. 

Giving should be spontaneous.

Giving should be from the heart.

Why give?  The largest reason to give is to realize that we are not here forever.  To reaffirm humanity.  What reason can you think of to not give?  For many people, it seems that the less they have, the easier it is to give.  Let's be honest, if many of you received a large sum of money, name any amount, and in your head the first thought that pops into your mind is what to do with it for yourself.  I heard one woman say, the first thought that came into her mind was how to keep it.

How odd.

Keep it?  Currency is a tool.  It is meant to be used, circulated, not hoarded and underutilized.  However, that is how we are programmed to think.  We are told the stories of how so many people partied their monies away and as these stories are paraded before us we are taught to cling, out of the fear of never having enough.  We just don't seem to have a handle on what we need.  We don't even know how to define need. 

Changing a mindset is difficult for many.  Rigid beliefs are often our biggest obstacle.  In the west we have gotten used to NOT trusting.  So I decided to set up a challenge for myself.  Find a way to make an impact.

I decided to pick a country, find an organization I had never heard of and see if there was a way to help.  The best way to be a peacemaker in this world is to care, put aside my skeptic's glasses, because there is real need out there.  I found Givology.  You can sponsor children, projects and get involved through many means.  What will YOU find?   

It's a small start, a small step towards the path I want to continue on no matter how jaded the world may seem to get.  We aren't alone. 

I want to give because....

and enjoy the journey.