An Act of Altruism Expands Beyond the Expected

The story is borrowed from Sagar Prasain’s facebook and is located in Kathmandu.

After settling into a taxi, Sagar inquired if people on wheel chair rode his taxi.  The driver then enthusiastically shared his recent story:  three college students approached him yesterday, with an elderly man on wheel chair.  Inquiring how much it would cost to reach him at his destination, they pooled money and gave it to the physically challenged man as well as helped him into the taxi.  Once he was driven to his destination, the man pulled out the Rs. 300 to give to the driver.  However the driver did not feel like taking the money and offered it back to the reluctant and stunned taxi occupant.  When Sagar inquired what made him do this, the driver told him that he thought the man did not appear to be too resourceful and that in some ways he too could help him out like the three students!  When Sagar was getting out of the taxi, he added the Rs. 300 for the driver who was initially reluctant to take the additional money, but accepted when Sagar requested that when the driver found the next person in need to kindly help out.   

This story makes my heart sing!  Given the context of how uncaring a mindless, rapidly urbanizing city (Kathmandu) in a post conflict transition is, this story of altruism and philanthropy is heart warming and mind changing.  In the story, the students often from other districts are usually in a hand to mouth situation – they must have sacrificed significantly in order to help out.  They also inspired the driver.  From my experience here most drivers don’t seem to care other than making money.  Sagar was obviously wondering about the plight of the physically challenged people in a city whose infrastructures for the physically challenged population is sub zero.  But he too was inspired by the driver’s story, and a chain reaction of goodness and humanity evolved inspiring all of us who get to read this story! 

I am in awe of how much good a philanthropic act (however small it may appear to be) is capable of stirring.  While I am still winding up my work with the Tewa Center, I am thinking of how to ensure and sustain that the “humane heart” continues to throb in the funds and foundations we have helped found.   How can we enable these organizations we founded with a sense of acute need for equity and social justice, not dwindle over time to be just another job or a project!  Where we often in my experience, think we sit in judgment, don’t trust or respect, and think that we know more than others without ever adequately finding out the other side of the story.

I want to keep that “humane heart” throbbing!  Any suggestions?

Rita is the founder of Nagarik Aawaz, an initiative for conflict transformation and peace building in Nepal, where she previously founded and led Tewa – Nepal Women’s Fund.