Mayida is determined. She walks straight up to me, gives me a loving hug, takes my arm and tries to pull me into her tiny hut. I have just arrived in this village in rural Bangladesh with the mission to visit micro-loan borrowers. It is the first time I am meeting Mayida. She spotted me while walking on the dirt road through her village. I don’t understand her words. She speaks Bengali. But I do understand her huge welcoming smile and insisting gesture to invite us for tea. She eagerly opens a bag of cookies for us, the only food item I can see in her very humble home. With embarrassment I thankfully accept her hospitality. Thanks to micro-financing Mayida and her husband Farouk now proudly own a tiny grocery shop. But ten years earlier they used to be beggars for more than 20 years. Not even for a moment do I hear sorrow or pity in Mayida’s words. While she shares her story, Mayida’s face is filled with joy and kindness. It is contagious. It is humbling. I treasure my encounter with Mayida. Perhaps what inspired me most was her child-like innocent approach of seeing me, a complete stranger, on the street, walking up to me and giving me an embracing hug.
Doing good and helping others is deeply embedded within us. Every single day millions of people do selfless acts of kindness. They care, help and express their love for each other. They express their true nature. While most of us may help spontaneously, organizations and social activists around the globe are committed to ease the suffering of men and animals in a more structured and strategic way. Many are passionate about truly eradicating global poverty. It seems an overwhelming and intimidating task. How to best overcome global poverty is one of the most debated questions, spurring ever on-going heated discussions. But is this question in itself rightly asked?
Five years ago we set up Monyati Initiatives, a non-profit social development organization that supports communities in need globally. We address social challenges primarily through education and employment. Our work on the ground, engagement with beneficiaries and leaders from the sector, allowed us to dive deeper into the seeminging complexity of eliminating poverty. However, the more we immersed the more we realized its utter simplicity.
It allowed us to learn nine lessons, nine rules of engagement for the social development sector. These rules of engagement are a humble effort to unclutter the confusion as to how charity work may be best approached. May these nine affirmations guide and encourage everyone, who is passionate about helping, to reassess their philosophy and help in raising awareness, clarity and strength.
Monyati Initiatives Rules of Engagement for the Social Development Sector
#1 I never judge an approach of a charity that tries to enable social change. There is not one solution to fight global social challenges. Social enterprises and education are powerful tools. However giving out food or handouts is at times necessary and very valuable as well. We require simultaneous approaches.
#2 I don’t judge a donor, social activist or organization by what I seem to see about them. Judging how they live, what they wear, drive or do is wrong. I know nothing about the background.
#3 I refrain from getting emotionally hooked to charitable work. I don’t give myself too much importance. As some wise words say “There is inaction in action”. I don’t do. I am an instrument of a bigger play. Men can only understand three dimensions in a multi-dimensional play. There is a much bigger picture than what we can currently absorb with our limited minds. I trust in that and don’t give with the aim to change the entire world. I give as if I simply give to myself, as if my left hand serves my right.
#4 My opinion is not required. My action is.
#5 I am aware that I give for my own benefit, for my own spiritual elevation. I don’t do a favor to the receiver. In fact the receiver does me a favor by accepting my gift and helping me in my spiritual journey. This is not the reason of my giving, but I am aware of it. I give with a feeling of gratitude.
#6 I don’t play the emotional card to get our message out to potential supporters. People from communities with needs are happy and human just like me. They have a lot to teach me. They have a lot of happiness to share.
#7 I honor the trust given to me by supporters and partners and carry this responsibility to my full capacity. I fulfill my charitable commitments regardless of personal or professional changes in my life. I work with highest integrity, ethics, efficiency and with a firm business mindset to ensure successful implementation.
#8 I refrain from negativity, emotions and pity about the possible hardship of my work and cause. I am deeply blessed to be able to work in the social sector.
#9 I remember that purity, faith and persistence in such efforts make failure impossible. Divine provides. Always.