September 5 each year is designated as International Day of Charity by the United Nations.
The date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.”
In any society that we dwell or live in there will always be pockets of persons who are desirous of help in one form or the other. Poverty is not just limited to third world or developing countries, it is a global phenomenon that exists in even the richest of countries. Pundits have articulated that once the there is a disparity in the distribution of wealth, poverty will always be prevalent.
In so much as the causality may be open to debate and interpretation, the actuality of the condition remains and the onus on the rectification of same should not lie solely on the Governing institutions in place.
All of the world’s religions prescribe for the need to render assistance in one way or another to those whom are less fortunate. It was built into our cultural systems and that knowledge was passed down from generation to generation.
However, this traditional norm as we would describe it has somewhat been diluted with the passage of time and with the modernist take on cultural assimilation.
Invariably, the day-to-day existence of those persons in the middle-income bracket and the proverbial rat-race to pursue wealth generation as a medium to transcend class stratification has meant that the majority of families have focused more on building themselves over expending resources to help persons outside of their social ambit.
Nevertheless, according to the UN “notions of volunteerism and philanthropy, provides real social bonding and contributes to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies. Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in health care, education, housing and child protection. It assists the advancement of culture, science, sports, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promotes the rights of the marginalized and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations.”
There is no denying the benevolence of NGO’s and other non-profit organizations that have contributed tremendously towards the social upliftment of those in need.
But their help is contextualized on a more macro scale.
Beyond the support of the state, there is supposed to be the support of thy neighbour, the support of the village, the support from those who have enough that sharing would not have any effect on their economic footprint.
How do we ensure or bring about a resurgence in providing service to those in need? Well, fundamentally it should start at the level of our education. Just as how we are taught togetherness and tolerance among races in school; education catered towards inculcating formative values that enshrine the need for us to care for each other must also be incorporated in the teaching curriculum from an early age.
We cannot account for the behavioural change in persons who are already entrenched with a particular perspective of thinking but we can inculcate within the malleable minds of our young ones the need for them to extend their social and economic responsibilities beyond the confines of the family structure.
The bigger picture is that we are all interconnected. Realization of this fact through an “Edu-care” based approached to learning will invariably set us on the right path.