3.15.2010

The Season Of Giving

As we begin our preparations to move on to our next assignment, we are faced with the daunting task of going through each and every thing we own and deciding what to do with it. Do we keep it? Do we throw it away? Do we sell it? Do we donate it?

And while I'm going through each and every item, I often look over in the next room to where my maid is working or outside to where my driver is sitting, and pangs of guilt come over me. These extra pads of paper, empty glass jars, chipped coffee mugs, extra mosquito bats, night lights, or old picture frames that I would likely either sell or donate means little to me, but to them, are the world.

Any one who has ever been to India knows that a majority of the population truly has nothing. 76% of the population lives under the international poverty line of $2 / day. That equates to about 800 million people... many of whom live in homes of just one room, where running water and electricity are often a luxury.

Back in December, my girlfriend in Kenya, came up with an idea I told her one day I would copy. She decided to help raise money for her housemaid, to give her and her family a Christmas to remember. When I read all about the Kenyans, I realized how similarly they live to the Indians. And it hit me... I could do the same thing to help out my housemaid and driver. Moreover, I need to do the same thing to help out my housemaid and driver.

You've seen the photos I've posted about life in India. Those photos were taken just outside my front gate, just down the street from my house, on the way to my daughters school. Everywhere you turn you see poverty staring you in the face. It's easy to turn a blind eye. But how can I? Every day I hear about it from both Janifer, my housemaid and Velan, my driver.

Janifer is married and has two sons, ages 9 and 12. They live in a two room house about an hour and a half away by bus. Velan is also married and has a 2 year old son. He lives in a one room house about 30 minutes away by motorcycle. By Indian standards, they make a decent wage by working for us; Janifer makes Rs 8000 / month ($175), and Velan makes Rs 8500 ($185). They've both recently moved and now have running water in their homes, though it's minimal and isn't available all day. The expenses for both of them are high; rent is about Rs 3000 each month, and the miscellaneous living expenditures leave them with little savings at the end of each month.

And this is where I turn to you... my family and friends ... and ask for your help. Have you ever wanted to reach out and help someone, but weren't sure where your money was going to go? Have you ever wondered how that money, the pocket change you've collected for the past month, was going to be spent? Let me tell you exactly where your money is going. I want to buy both Janifer and Velan...

* an air conditioning unit
* a small oven
* a washing machine
* an mini refrigerator
* a bed
* clothes for their children
* clothes for their families

I slip both Janifer and Velan additional money throughout the month. I overpay them when they work overtime. I give them bags of clothing, toys, kitchen supplies, extra items we have laying around that we know we don't need. And when we leave in June, I plan on giving them furniture and items that we don't plan on taking with us. But they could use more. They could increase their self worth by getting a good night sleep in a cool room on a soft mattress, or spending just a few hours washing clothes in a washing machine rather than all day by hand.

So I'm asking you and anyone you know for help. We're doing our part to help give them a better life. But with your month's worth of pocket change, of spare money laying around, your date night money, together we can give them a life they've only dreamed about.

If you would like to help make a difference, please e-mail me at mjperlman@me.com for our mailing address. Please don't send any cash, rather send a check or money order made out to me. Or, I even have a PayPal account that you can use ... just "send it" via our above e-mail! I'll make sure they get every cent you send! This does not have to be a significant amount, even a nominal donation will be truly appreciated.

This is the season of giving. Together we can make a difference. Together we can change their lives.

One last note... As mail takes 3 -4 weeks to get here, I'll ask that you send your check
no later than April 15 to ensure that it arrives here in enough time.

11 comments:

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

This is truly a wonderful thing you are doing. I'd love to place a link on my blog to this post to spread the word if that's alright.

It's sad to see just how much I have and really don't need when there are people who truly have nothing.

Mom24 said...

What a wonderful idea. Very, very nice of you.

Christy said...

You are so amazing to organize this for them!

DelhiBound said...

Brilliant idea!

I just had the guilt pangs recently for turning over our castaways to the AWA thrift store. Instead, I'm going to start letting the staff look through it and take what they need/want.

Hoping you come up with LOADS of moolah to get these two the things they need!

Ashley Shaun said...

Yeah its really very good and informative post. thanks for sharing with us.

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♥ Braja said...

I'm sorry, Jill, but after 9 years in India I've only seen the detrimental and unfortunate effect that a westerner's misguided 'generosity' has on the locals here. An air-conditioning unit?? Life has existed for thousands of years in this country without a/c...and how will they pay for the electricity bill? That's not an improvement in their living standards: that's setting them up for frustration at not being able to acquire and maintain a standard of living that was not theirs to have.

I know to you or anyone else reading this it sounds negative, but you'd be far more helpful if you simply paid for their children's future education: not dangle a carrot of so-called "attractive options" in front of these people. That's a dead-end street....

Loukia said...

So, so very nice and thoughtful of you.

AMIT said...

So nice thing you are doing it.

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Crystal said...

This is great Jill, I love it and I think I may do it as well when we move on from Kuwait. Great Idea!!!!

Tracy said...

have to agree with Braja...
just give them a big bonus before you leave the country towards their children's education.
Even if people aren't able to give anything...I think you may be able to afford it! ;0)

Lisa said...

Jill,
It's been a long time since I've been over here too....you make my heart all warm & fuzzy for what you're doing for Janifer & Velan. You're heart is so big, your travels so amazing, and what you're teaching your kids is invaluable! I can't imagine living the way they do, and thinking about those conditions humbles me in thinking about the things that I stress over.
The kiddos are getting so big too! Can you believe our babies are nearing ONE?!? I can't! And back to California? I bet you can hardly wait, although a year without Matt must be so difficult to think about.
Love the pictures of you washing elephants. Truly amazing experiences you've given your family!

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