I remember, amongst the sea of brown faces, seeing a Caucasian family at my Dad’s funeral. One of them came up to us and said “Are you Mr Bansal’s daughters?” to which we replied yes. This gentleman went on to explain how our Father had been visiting their Father for a while now who was in hospital terminally ill with Cancer – and we never knew about this. That was my Dad through and through…totally humble…totally giving…..totally selfless. This warmed all of our hearts even on that very sad day. This was just one example of the kind of man my Father was. I could name many others.
My Grandfather, my Mum’s Dad, was also a great man. He went to India every year or at least every few years. Before he went, he would ask all of the family if they wanted to give some money for charitable purposes in India. All of us gave what we could spare and being quite a large family, he managed to collected quite a bit everytime. I know it was more than hundreds of pounds. So my Grandpa would then go to India and visit the Orphanages. He always had a soft spot for children – typical grandparent! And there, he would buy them Indian sweets, shoes, clothes, books or whatever they needed with the money he had collected. It was real hand to mouth charity work. And I know it gave him an enormous piece of satisfaction. He always said he was very grateful to God as He had given my Grandpa everything so it was my Grandpa’s turn to give something back.
My Grandma on my Father’s side lived in Kenya, Africa for many years. She used to go around the hospitals and ask the Nurses which patients had not had any visitors in a while. Those who were pointed out were the ones my Grandma would go and sit with, talk to them and always left at the end by giving them some fruit.
I, in turn, have also and am doing my bit for charity. At the moment, I am the Secretary of a wonderful charity called Salgo Assist. We are a Christian Church in Berkshire, UK who support a small Christian village in Andhra Pradesh, India. We send funds to help run an orphanage, we have British sponsors who pay for the children’s board and education, we run a Widows and Children’s scheme, last year, we bought rice fields to help the locals become more self sufficient, we pay Teachers salaries and help with maintaining the cost and upkeep of 2 local schools and more. The funny thing is that I am not a Christian but my fellow charity members are lovely and didn’t see that as an objection. I have been with them for just over a year. I also sponsor 2 children – it’s something really nice to do for someone who you don’t know but you do know that you make a significant difference to their lives. Hopefully I will have the means to support them for their whole lives now. I take this commitment very seriously. They are barely 10 at the moment but I promised myself I will do whatever I can for them.
I feel very lucky with what I have right now. Yes I have had lots of bad things happen to me but I have had some good things happen too. And it was the good things that kept me going so I will give as much back as I can. Many times, it humbles me. It takes me away from many petty thoughts I have and reminds me of how lucky I have it. I can go to a supermarket and buy whatever I want to eat. I am fully conscious that others in the world do not have this privilege.
I am also very concious about hand to mouth charity work. I would not give to any charity unless I knew all of my money was getting to the cause. That’s just the way I am. I need to see what it is doing and if it is indeed benefitting.
You don’t have to donate money to charity only. There are other things you can do:
- Give things you don’t want/need to charity shops.
- If you have a neighbour or know someone who looks like they need some help, ask them. I have often asked people who live near me who look like they could use some help if there is anything I can do for them. I remember when I was about 14 years old, an elderly lady would come and talk to me and my sister for ages. She talked about how she was on her own and finding it hard to cope. So we would go around her house, take some chocolate because she loved it, and just tidy her house. Clean the surfaces, wash up etc. It didn’t take us very long and we got to hear about her life.
- Find out what you can do in your local area. For example where I live, every so often, there is a group of people who get together to go around the nature areas and clean them up. Picking up rubbish, bottles etc. What a brilliant idea!
There is so much to do if you just take a moment and look around you.
I totally believe that everything I have ever done for charity has made a difference. It has kept my feet fully on the ground and humbled me. I am a better person for doing the charity work I have done. It really confirmed for me how lucky I am to have the life I do.