A red light brought the car I was in to a stop. Sitting in the backseat, passenger side, a desperate figure walked up to the window. Tap tap! Tap Tap! was the sound that was made as her finger repeatedly bounced off the glass. Her young eyes looked not at me, but into me. The power of her gaze overwhelmed me.
This was when I first came to know desperate poverty.
Up until then I had spent my life in a safe little bubble.
The illuminating light of compassion shone forth where ignorance faded.
Thank you mom.
Thank you dad.
Thanks to you I've been provided with a great upbringing.
Thanks to you I've been able to open myself up to the world.
Thanks to you I've been able to see first-hand the harsh realities that exist world-wide.
It was by comparing myself to others that I learned that I'm truly lucky. Not in the sense that my odds of winning a raffle are greater than anyone else's. No, but lucky that through no feat of my own I've been gifted with many luxuries:
Why do so many innocent people suffer?
Why do so many people have to go through an exponentially more difficult life through no fault of their own?
These are questions I do not have answers for. But that is no reason to be passive.
I got a new job managing a company's e-commerce website. The $400 / week I was making was the most I had ever earned. So I decided to give back in a small way. I began to sponsor a child. For only about $6 / week, Children International (Children.org) made this gesture a possibility.
I found myself sitting nervously on a bed in a room no bigger than 100 sq ft.
A social worker explained to me that Atiqua, her two siblings and both of her parents shared this room and bed.
Atiqua (ah - TEE - ka) was the girl I had been sponsoring for over the last year.
She had grown impatient waiting for my arrival, so she had set off earlier to intercept me at the Children International field office.
When she arrived back home the room was tense with excitement.
Atiqua's mother helped to break the ice. Out from behind a cupboard she pulled out a letter, one that I had written months ago. The only one I had written...
Atiqua's mother, Riza, explained that she sometimes cheers up Atiqua by reading this letter to her.
Atiqua influenced the world that day.
She inspired me to sponsor 8 more kids. Those kids can thank her. So can the thousands of other Kolkata kids who have had their library expanded with educational books.
All of that came out of kindness. Kindness from Atiqua and her mother. And kindness from all the kind souls working at Children International.
How much does kindness cost?