The joy of giving: What important lessons children can teach us about giving

During this COVID time, we have learnt so many new things from so many new quarters. So, as the year comes to a close, why don’t we celebrate some of the lessons we have learnt from our children?
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“Children see magic because they look for it.” Years ago, I discovered this magical line by Christopher Moore in ‘Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal’. That was an epiphany – a moment of revelation – as it perfectly explained why being around children makes it easier for us to keep going, especially during times of distress. Since then, every time I looked around, I realised how children look at the world with a completely different perspective while experiencing the same reality as we do.

I know I will not be exaggerating when I say that we have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic at multiple levels. Our movement has been restricted, our routines have changed, we are constantly living in fear and angst and ennui – as our reality keeps changing every day. Every day, we are threatened by new facts, figures, and statistics, reminding us that it is still a long journey towards the resumption of normal life.

But it is also true that through the journey so far, we have come across a reservoir of beautiful stories of inspiration, of fighting back, of generosity, and of kindness – as the frontline workers, health workers, and the COVID warriors have been relentlessly working to keep us all safe and healthy, risking their lives. But most of all, we have discovered many of our children whose inspiring stories kept us going with renewed hope.

Shanaya (16), Naira (12) and Thea (10) are just a few of them who grew up in a family of doctors. As they grew up, all they heard was that a doctor’s job is to give back to the society. They were so inspired by this thought that when they got the chance, they promptly donated to an online fund-raiser organised by CRY to support our COVID-19 relief work for marginalised children and their communities.

“Mom keeps telling us about the CRY greetings cards she would buy when she was a child like us. So when we came to know about the opportunity, it immediately touched a chord – why don’t we do something to help out and become a part of the beautiful memory Mom carries with her?” the three sisters tell us, beaming. 

I just had to know what made them think about helping out. And their answers were so simple! Thea, the youngest of them, says, “This is just a better use of my pocket money which I saved for buying toys. But I already have enough. Isn’t it great that someone my age will probably get to buy toys and food that they may need?” 

What amazes me is not that they chose to donate to CRY. No, certainly not! It is rather the fact that empathy and compassion are the ways of life that these little girls are blessed with, at such a tender age.

They also narrated how, last year, they had baked cookies to sell at the Christmas fair and donated the proceedings to various causes. Instead of taking the unsold cookies home, they went to an adjacent slum and distributed the cookies to the children there.

Did they stop here? No. They spoke to their friends about what they did. Not to brag, but to inspire, and that has already resulted in some of them choosing to make a contribution to a cause as well. It is not difficult to believe that these three wonderful girls will keep their word of continuing to help children all their lives, even as they grow up.

And they are not the only flickers of hope! I found Parakram and Advait, both students of the twelfth standard, who came to know about a fundraising campaign through their school and wasted no time to participate. When they were asked why they chose to donate to CRY during the pandemic, both said that their parents have instilled the spirit of giving in them.

“While we sit at home and contemplate about the next movie we are going to watch on Netflix,” Parakram contemplates, “there are thousands of people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. The thought triggered me to do something when I came across this initiative and I instantly knew I would do this.” Sounds too matured for a teenager?

If it does, come let’s hear Advait out – “I have influenced some of my friends to take this up as well, and tried spreading the message to as many people as possible. Even a small amount coming from all can make a big difference, can’t it?” 

While I was thinking about their stories sitting alone at my veranda and idly browsing through the news feeds on the social media, another story caught my attention. It was about a little girl in class VIII who had written a letter to her school teacher asking how the school could help if she and her classmates would raise some money and want to help the distressed. “Papa is a daily wage-earner who has lost his job during the lockdown,” the girl wrote, “so, I know what the struggle must be with the families like ours…”

What was it that prompted the girl to write the letter, I kept on thinking – was it just maturity? Or was it something beyond – more profound, more humane?

To be honest with you, for me it’s not about the sum of money that these children are raising or donating. It is about the thought – the inner calling – that has prompted them to do so.

What excites me is the dream of a world where children stand up for children, where children extend warm, loving, friendly hands towards people of their own age, but not as privileged as they are.

What excites me is when Parakram says, “Going forward, I would want to motivate the youth to get out of their comfort zone and help those in need. All I want to say to my near and dear ones is that the joy of giving is unparalleled.”

And yes, it does ring a bell somewhere. When Rippan Kapur, the late founder of CRY said, “It is important for us to listen to what children feel and want for their world,” this is exactly what he meant. Children believe in magic, children learn from their surroundings – and in doing so, they teach us great lessons at times. The question is, are we ready to pay heed to them, and learn?

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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