First Edition in the ‘Time to Give’ Series
This is a series of blog posts by eminent people from different walks of life focused on the act of ‘giving’, talking about their experiences and how ‘giving’ adds value to their life. The series is a result of experiences curated by Genesis Foundation, a not-for-profit that facilitates medical treatment for critically ill underprivileged children in the areas of Heart, Cancer & Thalassemia.
Also Read: Tisca Chopra and the Art of Living by Giving
‘Giving’ is a strange thing. It ‘gives’ more to the giver than the receiver. I stumbled upon this unlikely truth recently.
Let me go back a bit before I tell you about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of what I just said. As a professional and a business leader, I began the year with planning the year ahead for my organisation and myself. As a husband, father, son, I also made plans for my family. And yet, something in me was dissatisfied. Will this year go by like last year, and the years before? Making plans for business, family, holidays, another milestone at work, another milestone at home, adding up acquisitions? If you are a working professional – no matter what you do – you know what I am talking about. That feeling that everything is great, as it should be, and yet, something is missing. Something you can’t put your finger on.
I would have never found that answer, but for a few chance occurrences.
A Friendship is Forged
In February, I got the opportunity to participate in a fund-raiser – join a group of CEOs to don chef hats and cook to raise funds for critically ill underprivileged children. It was a unique experience – both, because I had never so publicly cooked for others and watched as they relished what I had put my heart and soul into making, and because I was introduced to the work the not-for-profit organisation behind this event was doing.
As part of the corporate world, ‘CSR’ is something you come across routinely. And as a business leader, CSR is something you actively think about. How can my organisation contribute to the community? The good work that the not-for-profit was doing and the passion with which each team member put in the effort in everything they did, convinced me that this was a good partner to go ahead with.
Soon, we firmed up plans of participating as sponsors for their next fund-raiser – a music festival in the magical hills of Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh. I was excited to be there, enjoying the music, the ambience, the lazy lure of a weekend in the hills.
And once again, I was struck by the work the NGO was doing. The commitment to supporting little lives who had been fighting battles no child should have to fight, and with so little ammunition – parents and caregivers struggling to make ends meet, and with no hope to fight monsters like cancer, thalassemia, heart ailments. We knew that as an organisation, we had to make a difference in their lives, and support the NGO in its lofty mission – Give Life A Chance.
Also Read: Dia Mirza and the Art of Living By Giving
A Window Into a Whole New World
Moved as I was with the passion and commitment of the NGO, (coupled with the fun that I had at both fund-raisers), the penny truly dropped for me when the NGO asked me to visit the children we had been supporting in the hospital.
I went to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to visit Rahul and Inzimam, two little lives battling cancer. Wanting to make them feel better, I took a few gifts for them. Little did I know that they too had a few gifts for me.
When I reached, Inzimam was undergoing his treatment, so I could only meet Rahul – a boy who was generous with his smiles and resilient in his spirit. His treatment is not something that will get over in a week or ten days – I am told that the treatment itself will be close to two years – six months of rigorous treatment and then, follow-ups.
And through it all, parents, doctors, and, of course, the child, go through trials and tribulations that make you wonder at their patience, their strength and their fortitude. But the biggest challenge is acceptance of the situation and adapting to it – and that’s where children outshine adults every time. That was one question I asked the doctor, and she told me how she thought acceptance and adaptability to the situation are the biggest challenges – something that comes naturally to these kids.
They are far stronger, far more resilient, far more optimistic, and far more cheerful than anyone I have seen. They haven’t been corrupted as much as we have with the varied experiences we have as we grow up.
Lessons for Life
To say that this visit was a revelation for me would be an understatement. The ‘gifts’ that I mentioned earlier (as having received from them during this visit) were a life-altering sense of purpose and lessons to last me forever. Most importantly, it filled the gap in my heart that I had begun the year with.
Here are some of the lessons that I learnt:
1. ‘Giving’ doesn’t have to be sad and sombre. It can be enjoyable. When I participated in the CEOs Cook event for the NGO, I had a lot of fun indulging my passion for cooking. And then later, at the music festival, the infectious energy of the location and the people, along with the magic of music, gave me a lot of joy.
2. Don’t think that ‘giving’ is about you doing good for someone else. It is an experience that gives you more than it gives your beneficiary. It gives you a sense of peace, purpose and positivity that you carry over to all other aspects of your life.
3. When you decide to ‘give’, don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of the issue. You just have to take one small step at a time. Every step counts. There is no big contribution or small. Every contribution matters to the network of people here who are taking this big initiative.
4. ‘Giving’ isn’t just about money. It can be about your expertise and more importantly, your time. And the time to give is NOW.
(The writer is Managing Director, Monster.com, India, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)