If you want to help those in distress, reach out to vulnerable groups or individuals actively. Do not wait for the people affected by the lockdown to ask for assistance.
India is witnessing the second wave of COVID-19. There have been subsequent lockdowns in few cities in a bid to arrest the spread of the pandemic. The COVID-19 is not only a threat to our health but has also triggered a humanitarian crisis across the country, especially among the vulnerable sections of our society.
The people of India are hit hard by the consequences of the lockdown as large parts of the economy have ground to halt. Employers are widely imposing pay cuts or laying off their employees. According to a Pew study, the pandemic has adversely impacted income levels and pushed over 75 million into poverty.
The government’s response to the crisis has been inadequate so far. Since the inception of the lockdown, we have witnessed several non-governmental organisations and government bodies working untiringly to provide relief to the people in distress.
While those in extreme distress, like the thousands of migrant workers trying to reach their hometowns, need immediate attention, others around us may also need help. They may be reluctant to reach out to us for a variety of reasons. The fear of being judged by the community members and the feeling of embarrassment stops people to come forward to seek help.
Moreover, there a deep-rooted co-relation between charity and casteism. The giver is considered to belong to a higher caste compared to the one on the receiving end. Another barrier is the taboo around asking for money, as it is considered socially inappropriate.
Recently, while organising relief work, I happened to think about my tailor, wondering how he would manage with his boutique not being functional. I called him and asked about him and his family. “Ji sab khairyat hai, (Yes, everything is fine),” he said affirmatively.
On asking if he had everything and whether he was facing any problems, he disclosed, “Ji ab pareshani kya, bas dukaan khuli nahi hai. Bas wahi mushkil ho rahi hai; jo thora bahut hai ussi se kaam chala rahe hain (What problem! The boutique is not opening which is worrisome; we are making do with whatever we have).”
Often, we are so focused on the big picture that the obvious that we tend to overlook is the smaller things. Now is the time to go out of our way to help people.
According to Krystall Dunaway, Psychology program director at South University, giving charity empath induced altruism is not even simple.
Let us check upon the people who are a part of our daily lives, who made life easy for us: our domestic helpers, tiffin delivery person, milkman/milkmaid, tailor and all those make our lives easy. We should make them realise how invaluable they are and how much they matter to us.
More importantly, it is necessary to ensure accountability of the amount one donates for the social good. According to Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief Sustainability Officer at Renew Power, Indians have refrained from planned giving for broader societal transformation. Thus, donors should ensure that their donations are optimally utilised.
We should adopt an emphatically induced and systematically planned approach to reach out to the key players of our life. Let them know we are in it together.