Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Really giving (Blog Action Day 2008)

I give the man at the robot some of my loose change. He has albinism, and I feel sorry for him, imagining what it must be like to have grown up so, to have people glance at you curiously and quickly look away.

I give another man at the robot some of my loose change. He has an awful burn scar that's eaten up half of his head. I feel sorry for him, because I can see that he's 'not all there' and that it is probably hard for him to get work.

I give a child at the robot some of my loose change. He's holding his blind mother's hand and I feel sorry for him, knowing that he'll graduate from a school on the pavement, and know nothing beyond the cars that pass him, and the people who give him money.

I give a woman at the robot some of my loose change. Her child is tied papoose-style on her back, and I feel sorry for them. While her child is lulled to sleep by the lullaby of hooting taxis and worn brake pads, my baby niece has a tastefully decorated nursery and a colourful hanging mobile to stimulate her impressionable mind.

These are transactions right? I give them money, and they sell me a bit of windowlene for my soul, something I can use to polish off the guilt, rewards in the next world.

But while this sounds like a classic win-win, it's not a real solution, this swapping of something tangible for fickle abstracts.

I give, You take - not sustainable. Yet it has its place, when the space between us goes much much further than just my hand reaching out of my car window to drop some bread money in yours.

But the belly cries louder than the brain.

When your milestone for the day is to find enough food so that your children don't die from a slow starvation, education and development (and sustainability) become big useless words that can't be eaten.

And so poverty extends beyond the corporeal, it entrenches itself in the mind. And like weeds given a small chance, they flourish, forming the incubator ready for the birth of the demonchild - Crime (and that's subject for another Blog Action Day).

I come back to 'sustainability', that somewhat diluted word that's been draped and displayed by consultants and development specialists at many a conference and symposiusm.

Bring on the food grants and food gardens, feed families so that they can start moving up on Maslow's pyramid. But don't let it end at the stomach. 

Shift focus to the schools, training colleges and centres for entrepreneurs. 

But this need not be a government mandate solely. 

We can all somehow contribute and feed momentum into this.

I know of one way we can give so that, like the catchy jingle, it keeps on giving.
"Ibn ‘Umar reported: ‘Umar acquired land in Khaibar. He came to Allah’s Apostle (saw) and sought his advice in regard to it. He said: “Allah’s Messenger,  I have acquired land in Khaibar. I have never acquired more valuable for me than this, so what do you command I do with it?  Thereupon the Prophet (saw) said:  If you like, you may keep the corpus  intact and give its produce as Sadaqah. So ‘Umar gave it as Sadaqah declaring that the property must not be sold or inherited or given away as a gift. And ‘Umar devoted it to the poor, to the nearest of kin, to the emancipation of slaves, to wayfarers/guests,  and in the way of Allah.-Sahih Muslim"
According to the National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa, this hadith led to the establishment of the Waqf system. A Waqf can be anything from property to money to a food garden. The core endowment remains, while the earnings/produce/resources get distributed/utilised.

I believe this concept has universal and secular appeal. Goverments and NGOs work together to form central trusts where the endowments can be managed. Everyone gets involved in the solution.

What do you think? 
Pie in the sky or a slice for everyone?


KiLLa said...

What is blog action day

Saaleha Bamjee-Mayet said...

dude just click on the link - but if proactivity is not on your aim-for list today:

"Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion."

Click here for more.

Zahera said...

Its a wonderful idea and yes, definitely something everyone could get involved in!

Profane. Profound. What's your poison?