Dogster: Crumbling in Varanasi.

Old Nov 1st, 2008, 03:31 AM
  #21  
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And thank YOU for posting afterall: that was a very considered and articulate response. The word 'Enough' says it all - as you realized while writing, one can go at this moral conundrum from every which way - and still end up, 30,000 words later no closer to a solution.

I'm delighted you see it as a moral maze - that was my intention. I'm still wrestling with it - as you see - that's why I wrote the piece.

There's the big issue - then there's the small specific issue.
Let's take your first NGO option as a given: it's a fair way through it - mmmm - but, yep, I have some issues there. But I can give all I want to an NGO and that kid still isn't in school. Mum still doesn't have medicine. And the boy in the darkened room is still lying there.

So, let's conjure more with the second option: giving direct to the family... now, there's another minefield...

And while we're giving direct to families - why not go next door, and next door, and next door? And see a similar heartbreak in all of them.

I dunno. I don't know anything.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 07:25 AM
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So much of this World that exists far beyond our field of vision.

I'm not heroic. Do I want to find out what goes on in the sausage factory, or what's behind the closed courtyard door? I'm not 100% certain of the answer.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 08:03 AM
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These scenarios are rampant in places like India.

If the spirit moves you, give the family some money, wish them well with getting medical care for their son and then say goodbye.

You have to let the family take it from there. At least with some cash they may take some action that they couldn't before.

I remember many years ago while in India, I was so bothered by the dusty, dirty street kids until someone enlightened me. The dust and dirt has a secondary benefit of deterring mosquitoes from biting them versus if they're washed clean everyday. Who would have guessed?

Point is, you have to keep it all in context.

Good writing Dogster, poignant story.








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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 08:03 AM
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Hmmmm.... my two cents:

There is no answer. There is no solution.
This world is imperfect. Always will be.

Do I just turn away then, feeling overwhelmed and powerless, just give some money or do I touch someone's life in a positive way ?

Who knows Dogster what unseen effects your amazing act of caring and love with the older son had on him and his family ? Perhaps those moments will stay with him for the rest of his life. Yes, sharing our good fortune is good but its not a substitute nor superior to sharing our hearts, giving of ourselves, whether in another country or in our own towns.

A solution to suffering ? Well no, but perhaps you left the world and yourself, just a little better off. Maybe that's enough.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 08:32 AM
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But you didn't go next door and next door and next door. For whatever reason, God, Karma, whatever, you were brought to THAT door. We can't help everybody, but we can help some of those who are brought into our lives.

I've been in this situation before -- and it truly IS a moral maze. But we cannot take on the big picture -- it is just too large for us to conceive of, or make sense of. Sometimes I've given to people directly -- and sometimes that direct giving has had bad results and I've felt burned and tremendous guilt over it -- other times it has changed lives. We never know which it will bring.

When you look at how little it would take to change conditions for these people, our conscience demands that we not ignore it and walk away. But sometimes we do, because even our generousity can not fix things.

Here's what I would do in this situation -- if one exists, find a local medical NGO that could help the boy. I would make a donation to that group with an understanding that it will take on that boy's case - i would ask for updates on what they are doing for the family with the offer to provide more in the future. Often these families have no understanding of how to get help -- either they don't know how, or they think they will need money. I now try to find organizations to give money to as a part of my travel plan. I feel its my responsibility. But, each of us should do what his or her heart tells us to do. We can't possibly fix everything, but we should do what we can in our limited scope. If its money, give money. If its prayer, offer prayer. If its encouragement, provide encouragment. If its wisdom, share wisdom. We don't just help others -- we raise oursleves up by our giving -- on whatever level we can in any given situtation -- then we can move forward in our conscience and in our lives knowing we are doing SOMETHING. Life is NOT fair, but we should help where we can - and we can't let the burden of the immensity of it all immobilize us -- individually we can't do it all, but every bit we can helps all humanity.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 08:54 AM
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It's completely out of my comfort zone but I do appreciate you sharing this, Dogster. We all have our boundaries though some are willing to stretch them a lot further than others.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 03:02 PM
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I suffer from this too. What to do, what to do...Every day. The world is a bottomless pit of want and need.

To keep my perspective, to keep my smile, to keep my hope, I remember a couple of things Mother Theresa told us. The one that always reverberates is "there is a poverty in the world beyond hunger, that of being forgotten and left to suffer alone".

Important to not shy away, to have the guts to just hold someone's hand, to give them back their dignity, give some soothing words. And not crater in the process.

It's a big thing that goes deep, that "seeing" someone. Acknowledging the suffering. Taking a moment to just BE with them. Good for you for having the stomach for it. Not everyone does.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 04:05 PM
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hmmmmm. your post brings a tear to my eye..the same tear i get each time i see a similar situation...whether in a developing country or on the streets in my own country..Thanks for sharing...
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 10:22 PM
  #29  
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Wow, what a fantastic selection of replies, guys - I'm really impressed.

And so moving - I'm a bit overwhelmed.

There's a lot to say here and some of you are saying it very eloquently indeed. I'll have to take a breather and consider your replies. Although, you're saying things so beautifully, I don't think you need any response from me.

Wow, again. And thank you for your kind words about my humble prose. I'll be back later to try and respond properly - if, indeed, I possibly can.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 10:44 PM
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Excellent way to look at these things, travelaw.

Obviously one person can't fix everything. But if a situation where I could help and make a big impact happens to me, then I hope that I would look upon that as an opportunity for me to help someone. Truly, not many people get an opportunity in this world to make an immediate impact. Perhaps it is a gift that life has presented to us....to be in a position to make a difference without breaking the "bank". One can only do what feels right within, and that has got to be the final guiding factor, I would think.

Enough said !! We should, however, never forget to enjoy our travels and have fun.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 10:45 PM
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Dogster,

You are a good man, not just lucky. Only good men get invited into Chai sellers houses. You went to his house, not the neighbors or the other one down the street. He is the man you befriended. By saying yes, there was/is a resposibilty which you recognize all too well.
I know this because I am such a naysayer myself.

What would I do, take care of the mother's medical needs. She is the glue, and without her the family will truly perish. After that I don't know what I would do. Doing nothing would be hard, but how far do you go?

A not very well thought out answer form rainy Yangshuo. I saw you as I turned my head.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 02:48 AM
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Are you still in Varnasi, Dogster?

First, yes, not everyone would have been invited. Second, not everyone would have accepted; third, not everyone would have responded as you did. And I salute you for putting yourself into a situation that you now have to address.

I think we need to take the neighbours out of it. Just focus on the one family. That is a sufficiently complicated moral dilemma to be going on with.

So far, out of the respondents that say give money directly, we have one saying fund the young lad with the broken leg and one saying fund the mother because she is the "glue".

If you fund the mother, she will return to live out a life that was just like before, although she will feel more able to cope. There'll still be the older son who needs constant care; and the younger son who won't get the chance to go to school and fulfil his potential.

I confess my gut reaction was fund the young son - past, present and future. He is the future.

But in writing this I find that I go for the option that was least likely when I first read your post..

Fund the son with the broken leg. That way the mother is released from the burden of care, and there may be a little money to spare to see the younger child back to school.

Whatever you decide to do, count me in. Like I said, I have sidestepped many opportunities to help an INDIVIDUAL for what I thought were sound reasons. Maybe I got it wrong.

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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 04:12 AM
  #33  
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Thank you, dogster. I am too moved to speak coherently, but this is something I've found helpful: I can't do everything, but I can do something. How often the wanting to do everything gets in my way of doing something, though...
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 05:27 AM
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Beautiful writing, Dogster. If you are not already a professional writer, you should be - seriously.

My husband lived in southern India for 5 years and the stories he's told me break my heart just as yours does.

If I experienced this situation, I know I could not just walk away and forget it. It wouldn't be humanly possible for me and it doesn't seem as if it would be for you either. But at the same time, you cannot save the whole world and to even begin with one family may even be daunting, especially with limited resources or time.

But I believe everyone can do something, even if it's simple, and I've also found that asking others to help alleviates becoming overburdened and overwhelmed. And at the same time, it gives others the opportunity to feel the satisfaction of knowing they've helped someone too. Nothing in the world beats that!

You seem to have a very big heart and I know you did the right thing. Blessings to you, for you are a good person!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:16 AM
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Dogster, are you married? I think I've just been seduced on a message board. My husband is not going to be happy about this.

I don't have an easy answer to your predicament, but a lot depends on whether you're still there.

I would be most likely to enter a business relationship with the father, or assist him in establishing one, so that he could provide the necessary care for his family.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:25 AM
  #36  
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Heart-rending, sobering, and beautifully told, Dogster. We become paralyzed when we think of the big picture, the millions who suffer world-wide, but if we start with just one person, or one family. Every deop of water begins to fill the bucket -- directly, through NGOs, or just by helping people to find some resources that can help. We just spent last evening with Indian friends, a young professional couple of modest means (by US standards)who have been living here for only a a few years, who were talking about the pain they feel when they go back home to their villages near Calcutta. They can't bring prosperity or health to everyone, but they try to do what they can for those who are suffering most. To quote the title of the Rohinton Mistry book, life is a delicate balance - laughter, joy, sadness, pain. It's all mixed together, and in India it is right there up front, in your face, which is I think what people either love or hate about visitng India. Even though it has been nearly a year since our first trip, I can't get it out of my mind, and your story brought it all back again. The love, the sorrow. Thank you in a bittersweet way.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:39 AM
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Thank you for sharing this, dogster.

It is a perfect reminder to go where we are invited and to keep our hearts open when we get there.



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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 07:44 AM
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i think just the fact of your caring made an impact on this poor family.

Sorry you missed the GTG...maybe next year?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 12:38 PM
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I will be leaving for India in a month. This time, I've chosen to donate to Rising Star Outreach -- an organization that helps leprosy colonies in India become self-sufficient through education, micro-financing of small business and mobile medical units. If anyone has a suggestion for a reputable charity in Nepal, please pass along the information, as we will be visiting there as well. Its not my intention to advertise for any group, or to be morally presumptuous, but to encourage us to think about how we can help people in need in the places that we visit. As I said earlier, we each need to search our own hearts on how we can help -- and there are lots of ways to help. If not money, then even an encouraging word or prayer will do. Thanks.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:15 PM
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Travelaw - please take a look at http://answernepal.org/

This is an organization started by a man I know here in Michigan (U.S.) to help women and children in Nepal. I've not been to Nepal but did some volunteering here locally for this organization and they do some very good work in Nepal.
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