There is a person in Virar who claims that he is taking care of surrounding slum people’s children. Soon he became a messiah of the slum children’s welfare and soon advertised his contribution to them via various social media options like Twitter and Whatsapp. He has created a very good name due to his generous and noble care for the slum children’s upbringing and concern.
Kindly note that under the condition of anonymity, we are not mentioning the children’s or parents name of children’s names here.
One fine day I and my friend who is the Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper went to do some charity work for them assuming he is caring for the slum children. We went there and met him and everything was quite goody-goody as he spoke with us and expressed his sincere concern for these slum kids. There were some slum dwellers too over there whose children were under his charitable care. Everyone including the parents of those children was very happy to meet us and conveyed gratitude for our encouragement and support. At that point, everything there felt right to us as that man seemed to be deeply committed to the cause. We walked out with high regard for his outlook and further supported his cause with our humble donations and gifts for the children’s welfare.
Later as we left, due to the intricate confusion by lanes, one of the slum dwellers had to escort us out in our car to connect us back to the main road. We chatted with him on our way and during our interaction with him, the person suddenly broke down and started crying. We were obviously concerned with his emotional breakdown and as we calmed the distraught man with some drinking water, encouraged him to speak freely of his concern. He explained that “This man under his so-called charity is prima-facie is taking care of our children there, but sadly in exchange, we are doing all his labor work. We all slum-dwellers are expected to work for free at his place and be available 24×7 as various duties right from cooking, cleaning, washing, etc. and if we don’t comply, he comes into our houses and destroys everything in our house. We are treated badly with physical and verbal abuse. My wife is constantly occupied with all his household chores and cannot have a single day off or take a break as for him and his family, she is like a slave. She is expected to cook to their demands at any time and also cook for their guests and all family members. We accept our limitations and know that we cannot provide wholesomely for our children. As our children are in his care, they are used to a portion of better food, lifestyle and we are happy for their betterment’s sake, but sadly in exchange, we have lost our freedom and are under the constant pressure of mistreatment and bonded labor. Our life is a living hell as this is sheer blackmail in name of charity.”
The other side of this story was a revelation to us and our intentions. Charitable causes for the upliftment of the downtrodden is a noble cause, but when done with expectations and demands of free labor in exchange, the very motive fails. Our society is full of such people, who know how to bait the needy for their limitations and then further reel them in to extract some free favors in return. The whole transaction instead of being compassionate driven transforms into being power-driven. Generously providing someone for their needs may give one a feeling of goodness, but frankly, when you demand a favor in return, that very act of generosity is negated. In Hindi, there is a saying, “Neki kar aur dariya mein daal” which simply means that, “Do good without expectations.”
This experience was an eye-opener for us as when we saw the other side of the situation, we realized that this slum children’s life reform charitable cause is anything but charitable and instead of a calculative strategy for free labor. This case sadly is a cause for greater hell and pain of a lifetime for the helpless parents. The children are too young to understand things thus leading to the parent’s entrapment. We see many such cases around where people go out of their way to their feed their servants’ children or sponsor education, books, or clothes. But in exchange, they expect some other free work from those children’s family members. If their parents or family don’t comply, then they are mistreated to the core and blackmailed with the withdrawal of that support. Since those people are poor, they sadly give in to the bullying and exploitation for their children’s sake.
Somewhere under the façade of being charitable and feeling good about themselves, everyone vies to fill in their own emotional void, but at some point, the gruesome demand of expectation very much needs to be questioned and analyzed. As human beings, we are empowered to make a difference and uplift people in various strata of life, but that has to be with selflessly without anything in return. My whole reason for expressing this in this writeup is one; that we be more aware of the scenario as everything may not be as it seems and second; charity should not be shrouded in barters as somewhere we need to explore our own intentions and face the facts of the actual motive behind that so-called “generous” act. Our society is full of such misguiding “charitable” people, so it is very important we contribute to the right places of charity to ensure our goodwill is truly adding goodwill the ethical way.
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