The Week The Was #DaanUtsav2016

Sunday, 02 October: Daan Utsav week is upon us! For an NGO it may well be the most important week of the year, where there is a national media effort to encourage to give: give clothes, money, time, anything, but really just give. I have resolved to give something every day of this week. I therefore kick-start Daan Utsav week by counseling my long distance best friend and giving her (what I hope is) good advice on her love life.

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Monday, 03 October: Work today is frantic! NGOs are calling us up, suddenly realising they need volunteers for this petrol station, or to man this booth, or create this AV and all within 24 hours. I’m also taking a half day today to attend to some personal commitments (a.k.a the set up of my mother’s annual jewellery exhibition scheduled for October 4th, where attendance is mandatory) so I really end up giving all my colleagues a great deal of stress as I leave them to fend these calls themselves. I slightly feel like I’m abandoning ship, so maybe I give myself some guilt as well.

Tuesday, 04 October: Day of exhibition is here, meaning another whole day of poor colleagues carrying out my share of the work for the day. I spend the day giving compliments (some fake, some real) to a number of middle-aged women, who come in for a cup of coffee and some jewellery shopping, with the single-minded determination of being the best sales girl on the floor for the day. I think I am somewhat successful, and I see how happy my mother is at the end of the day, and I know that by giving my time to this today, I have given her a great deal of satisfaction and happiness — which, I’m sure has been enhanced 100x by all the compliments (some fake, some real) that her clients have bestowed on me, my sister, and my Bhabhi.

Wednesday, 05 October: Finally a full and real day at work! As usual, the hours are flying by, and there is much to do — I come to work to learn that ConnectFor hosted a very successful twitter chat on what it means to give and what it means to volunteer the previous day. Twitter seems like a wonderful medium, encouraging and soliciting options but limiting them to 140 characters so it’s impossible to drone on. No time to ponder though, in the night we are painting Sandhurst Road Railway Station as part of one of our CFCommunity Events, and we must quickly go home, change into our oldest clothes and report to the station.

At the station at 9:30pm following getting lost and a scuffle with a goat, I am given a single glove for my right hand, some paint, and a thick paint brush and ushered to join the volunteers already present in painting the walls and railings. Our theme for the station is “Girl Child Empowerment” and “Stop Child Labour,” and we’re slapping paint on the walls, incredibly satisfied with the slogan we have come up with “Save A Smile, Save A Child.” I’m running around giving people brushes, creative inputs, new paint cans, but it’s really all that I’m receiving for this time that is truly heartening. Commuters are stopping to thank us for beautifying their station, commending us on our work, and it’s making me wonder if they know how much their few words of appreciation means to all of us, increasing the value of these couple of hours to an unmeasurable degree.

It makes me wonder if any giver can ever truly understand how much of an impact they are creating on the one who is receiving. It’s so easy to give a compliment, a few minutes to listen to a person, a bottle of water to a person on the street, but it’s nearly impossible to understand how deeply the receiver has been affected. You also don’t know when you will need to be on the receiving end, so whatever opportunity you get to give, grab it with both hands and don’t let it pass you by. You never whose life you may touch in the process.

P.S. in case you’re wondering, I spent the rest of the week successfully giving out the following: headaches to my mother, candy to my niece, more advice to my love-lorn friend, and water bottles to all the street dwellers I came across. Somethings are definitely better to give than others!

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