Television programs, newspaper reports, tea shops conversations, blogposts, chain e-mails, Office canteen gossip....name it and tsunami has been the common link across all these for the past 2 weeks. Lots of stories have been floating around - some good and some not-so-good. But the one that moved me most was one that I saw in front of my eyes. Been wrestling with my thoughts ever since and I think I should share it here - after all there could be many more like me.
Totally stressed out from the cricket played in the morning and still seething over the disappointment of not getting tickets at PVR, I was lazing at Sandeep's place on Saturday evening when the calling bell in his apartment rang. Since Sandeep had gone out to buy some snacks and his roomie Uday wasn't home, I answered the door to see a sweet 9 year kid with a hundi in her hand. "Yet another collection with no accountability" was my first reaction and I was almost about to shoo her away when Sandeep returned back. Binodhini, for that was the kid's name (Bong??), came in and explained that the teachers in her school had spoken to all the children about the tragedy that had occurred showing photographs of homeless children and asked each student to collect Rs 200. Binodhini, in her own innocent way, painfully narrated the stories she had heard from her class teacher and her mom and requested us to contribute. Feeling miserable for my earlier attitude, I quietly asked her how much she had already managed to pull together. Displaying an empty white sheet of paper, she explained that she had just started with whatever money she had saved for the past 6 months in her hundi for some colored sketch pen set and painting books that she wanted to buy.
Here was a 9 year old girl who had just Rs 64 of her own and she had hardly hesitated for a moment to set it all aside for someone she barely knew. And here was I thinking twenty times before donating money that was a tiny fraction of what I earned just because I did not trust people to make good use of it. So what if Disaster relief is a whole industry by itself ? So what if for every rupee that is channelised through an NGO, only 15 paise reaches the person it was originally intended for ? (for Government agencies, its even lower at 8 paise acc. my friend who worked with India-aid)
Why is it that I am always cynical about these things ?
Why is it that I am always scared about what could go wrong rather than what good could come out of such efforts ?
Why can't I simply 'believe' in humanity ?
After all, what is life if it isn't about hope.