Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do What You Can!

Whew! So I finally presented my speech today! I was really nervous, but apparently no one noticed the tremor in my voice :) They all felt this was coming straight from the heart and loved it. A few people even came up to me to say they were quite inspired to do something!

Am feeling great :)

Here's the speech then...(WARNING: Its rather long!)

Today I am going to speak about a topic very close to my heart. I have written about it quite often on my blog, forwarded relevant links and emails to friends, but have never directly tried to share my thoughts with a group pf people way I am going to do today.
I want to persuade all of you to open up your hearts to the underprivileged people in the world.

To be honest, I had almost given up on this idea. Regardless of how I feel about it, how much I believe in it myself, I found it hard to convince others. Asking someone to give away their hard-earned money, or to spend time volunteering while they could very well be snorkeling in Hawaii, is hard. Then, a couple weeks ago, I came across an article about a 12-year old boy. This boy has raised more than $5 million and donated it all to help underprivileged children! Yes! He is 12 years old, and has raised $5 million for charity!!! He was 4 years old when he heard his parents talk about earthquake victims. They were talking about how a lot of money needs to be raised to help these people get back on their feet. He was eating an orange at the time, and he asked his parents if it was possible to raise money selling oranges? They were all for it, and he raised $350 in that first stint. He has not looked back since!

He started off by selling oranges, then sold hand-made crafts in the mall, at the train station in freezing winters, volunteered wherever he could, even went to Tanzania to volunteer, made speeches, and has also written a book! What this child has done is quite exceptional, not some thing everyone can do. Yet, his message is very simple. Do what you can! That is all. Do whatever you can! He says making a difference in someone’s life brings so much more joy than the latest gadget can ever bring.

He makes sense. I know it from experience. I have been sponsoring child education in India since the day I got my first paycheck. I have two kids right now, both growing up in very adverse conditions. One of them is studying for the same engineering degree that I have. The same degree that brought me here. I am proud that her grades are so much better than mine ever were! If I compare the joy of her some day leading a much better life than what she has today, to, lets say, my car, she wins hands down. If I compare the cost of educating her versus the cost of maintaining my car, she wins hands down again! I pay more for gas per month than I do for 6 months of her tuition.

There are many areas where we can help. There are many ways in which we can help! In fact, with so many choices, it is easy to get overwhelmed, confused and finally to give up on the idea!

So I am going to put forth some simple ways in which we can make a difference. The first one is to go to websites like thehungersite.com. All you need to do there is click! Yes, it is as simple as that. For each hit that the website gets, sponsors donate to fight hunger. Just one click is all you need to do. You can even sign up for a daily reminder via email to go click. They have made it so easy; there is no excuse to not do it ?

Another website I love is freerice.com. This one can actually help you find a word of the day for toastmaster meetings ? Play the word games, enhance your vocabulary, and for every word that you get right, donate some rice!

You can take it further a little bit by donating to charities. There are many prominent organizations doing excellent work in various fields like health care, education, women’s rights, animal rights, etc. There are some valid concerns that how do I know where my money is going? How do I know they are really doing the work they claim to be doing? The good news is that there are websites that help you research these organizations. The one I like to refer to charitynavigator.org. They help you find organizations in a specific field, they rate organizations, they list the most popular ones, they list ones that are in the red for a long time. They have tips and guides for donors, questions to ask before donating, pointers on how to spot a scam. There is a lot of information out there. I would encourage you to explore the website. I am confident that even if you don’t have a specific cause in mind, you will find something you would like to support just by browsing through the information!

Now, there are people who say they don’t believe in giving away anything for free. There is a solution for them too! Microloans! Organizations like kiva.org connect struggling entrepreneurs in third world countries with lenders who can lend small amounts like, say $25. This small amount goes a long way in changing the standard of living of these people, and some times even changing the economy of a small region. You may have a concern that these are inexperienced people, how would their business ever succeed, and I doubt I will ever get my money back. They succeed because their life depends upon it! For most people, it is a last chance to escape poverty, illness and illiteracy. They put in more efforts than the mucky-mucks in big companies to make it work! The average repayment rate is more than 98%. So most of the time, you get your money back. Even if you don’t, its just $25! Kiva does not pay any interest on these loans, but there are other organizations that do give out interest as well. If you go with one of those, then you save a family, and make money as well!

There are other options that are more time-consuming and take more effort such as volunteering, working full time at one of these organizations, or setting up subventions such as scholarships!

Bottom line is, there are millions of people out there who need help, gazillions of ways to offer it, and zero reasons to not do it! You can get a child off the streets, from a potential life of crime and put him in a school for less than the amount you spend on your daily shot of caffeine! You can help restore someone’s eyesight for less than the price of a t-shirt! You can make a big difference with very little effort!

Go click on a button, run a marathon, host a fundraiser. Do whatever you like, but, please, do something! More than anyone else, do it for yourself, it is good for your own soul!

18 comments:

Vrij said...

Clap Clap Clap !!

Kudos to u. Indeed, we can make a lot of things better just by these small means!

♥ÐÅyÐяєÅмє®♥ said...

di...

achha baat hai

I m very proud of you that u r spending good time doing sumthing with such great social messages..

I will defn do my bit whenever and wherever I can...though I m teaching not so privileged kids :)

Cinderella. said...

Wonderful !!

I totally loved your concluding lines !!!! whatta wonderful thoght to conjure !

I'm proud of you.

D said...

Aneri, my sister actually runs an NGO for street children. It's called Ehsas - Friends of Street Children and works for the rehabilitation of street children. It's a daunting task she's doing, and she has sensitised all of us in the family to the cause. I do my wee bit too - spend some time with the kids, help with money, raising funds, organising events, whatever. And it feels good.

Kshitiz Anand said...

Thank You for this wonderful speech!

Sakshi said...

That was a great speech and am more happy to see that you actually do what you say. Kudos to you for offering help to educate the kids. Thanks for all the links too. Keep the good work going and inspire others too on the way...

ceedy said...

Very good indeed! Proud of you :)

Just a side note that I was sharing with my brother - he travels to remote parts of Africa on business nad when we were talking about donating etc. he came up with a very interesting point...which he saw first hand....

he said make sure where you are donating your money - there are quiet a few of these ppl in Africa who are complacent - they now know that money is going to come and they just dont want to improve their lives....just live on donations....(this is no reason not to do anything - just a point of "live" view)

I am said...

very good kashmira... claps...awesome...


do it for yourself is the 'key' i believe :)

tearsndreams said...

That was a great speech.
It gave me goosebumps, especially the car and the happiness part. I donate off but keep postponing getting more active and generous with monetary donation...someday I always say to myself. This really made me think.
Can I ask you a technical question-Was the objective- inspire or persuade? You did succeed in inspiring and tackling objective 10, the first time itself. Wow!

aneri_masi said...

@Vrij, Thank you! Like I mentioned before, you will be approached in a few days with a request for some help. I hope you will be able to help in some way at least.

@sourish, am so glad you are proud of me :P Do share something about your activities too. What do you teach? Where?

aneri_masi said...

@Ella, I know. But sad enough, I didn't say those lines. The rhythm seemed to be all off and it did "sound" too good. And I got a -ve remark for a weak closing, saying I should have ended with something explaining WHY you should help. Yep, I did kick myself for this mistake!

D, yes, it is a wonderful feeling indeed. I have never directly worked with people the way you and your sister are. That would be the next step for me, somewhere deep down I feel scared I will mess up in some way (I am terrible with personal interactions in general!). Hopefully, some day I will be able to overcome that fear.
I googled for Ehasas and am off to browse there. Thanks for sharing the info.

aneri_masi said...

@Kshitiz, glad you liked it :)

@Sakshi, I am glad about that same thing! I am notorious for not finishing the tasks I start. So am feeling really good about this! About helping with education, would you be interested? I am looking for sponsors for Project WHY kids, will send you a brochure if you are interested.

aneri_masi said...

@ceedy, wow, now I didn't think about that angle! I guess that is where orgs like charitynavigator help. This was interesting feedback indeed!

@tnd, I had started off with trying to persuade, but it turned out more to "inform", since I was listing out all the different options.

Arv said...

I try contribute in anyway I can but I always know I can do more...

good one da... take care... cheers...

Ria said...

wow!!tht was lovely....i m so glad u did so well. :) Kudos to u for doing this and more.

Mysterious Mia said...

sorry am later here....but i am very touched with yur speech.....

n i have to share with u that the pleasure and satsisfaction working with the underpreviliged can bring u....even a holiday wudnt bring u....

am so loving working with the kids...

great speech....kudos babes!

aneri_masi said...

@arv, thanks so much :)

@ria, thank you!

@mia, yep! Like I was saying to D, i have never volunteered, that is definitely one step ahead of simply donating. I hope I do it soon!

Life Begins said...

Excellent!!
You touched this sensitive topic in such a convincing way.
Simply great.