The constant chatter of giving back to the society is something we hear or read about all the time. But what exactly does it mean? Is giving alms to a beggar considered charity? Is having your maids’ kids educated considered charity?
Or is it that only people with access to large funds can indulge their charitable feelings? “Charity is basically anything that one can do to help someone else’s well-being, it is not necessary that only people with limited means or resources need help. Even if you help a billionaire to overcome a tragedy or emotional betterment qualifies as charity,” said Kerry Kennedy — the niece of the former US President, John F. Kennedy — who was in Delhi earlier this week for an event.
Kerry Kennedy who is a human-rights advocate and philanthropist, travelling the world in support of human rights and fighting for those with no voice. Kennedy established the RFK Center Partners for Human Rights in 1986 to ensure the protection of rights codified under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. Her book Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World, features interviews with several human rights activists like Marian Wright Edelman, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and more.
Meera Gandhi, an international philanthropist, hosted the gala charity dinner to honor Kerry Kennedy, during her recent visit to India. “Kerry has been a friend of mine for the past 17 years so when I found out about her being in India I threw this dinner in her honor,” said Meera Gandhi.
Meera Gandhi is the C.E.O. of The Giving Away Foundation USA. Uplifting and empowering young women and children, addressing illness, poverty and suffering are the primary activities of the Giving Back Foundation. The Foundation also exists as a platform for debate and discussion, as philanthropic activities continue to evolve around the world.
“The Giving Back Foundation was started in 2010. The reason behind it is that I wanted my work to be impactful. So we signed five year contracts with a lot of people. The mission of giving back foundation is that transformative education to the masses. Our foundation runs a school in India and several girls’ leadership programs,” says Meera.
In the words of Meera, “Kerry Kennedy is the chairman of RFK Foundation which is a human rights foundation and because of the friendship I share with Kennedy the two foundations are working on several projects together in Latin America, Africa, etc.”
Addressing the topic of mass migration in Europe Meera and Kenny unanimously said, “When we take in immigrants’ people think that we are doing them a favor. But look at the average age of an immigrant. Who knows one these immigrants can be the next bill gates. People are not looking at the immigrants as human capital. They are fresh young and excited. Any country that supports these people will end up being better of as human capital is the most precious form of investment.”
Charity is basically anything that one can do to help someone else’s well-being. It is not necessary that only people with limited means or resources need help.
Immigration is one the several challenges that the world today is facing. Civil unrest being another such problem that we are witnessing today. “Whenever a regime is afraid that the things that the people are saying that means that they are not in sync with people of that country. That means that there is going to be a problem tomorrow as they are not representing the views of the people rather they are shutting them down. And any country that is doing that is not going to succeed. And they need to introspect, the tide is rising and you have to go with the flow. Honestly I’m very conservative but in terms of human rights issues you have to respect the rights of the individual.” Said Meera.
Kerry Kennedy expressed her joy in coming to India, she said that, “India, for the Kennedy family is a place of rejuvenation and solace. After my uncle, John F. Kennedy passed, my aunt Jackie decided to come to India and here is where she rebuilt herself surrounded by peace and tranquility that only India can offer. I hope that in the coming days, me and my family will be coming back as much as we can.”
While Meera said, “Modi ji is very motivated, when he was in New York there was a dinner with the NRI’s and there he said that he wanted a legacy of being the most transparent pm. And he has the motivation to do that. People are resistant to change so there is an initial resistance but eventually things are going to look up. We are the largest democracy were everyone has a voice and ultimately it gets heard.”
When asked about the future of The Giving Away Foundation Meera said, “We don’t plan to adopt any other schools as several people are doing it but the next thing that is creating a bigger platform of mindfulness where you prepare 500 people who later train another 500 it is putting an army of well minded people for a more global approach.”
Meera during her formative years had worked with Mother Teresa, while reminiscing about that phase of life she said, “Mother was a very simple and hands on person she always wanted to be the part of the action. I still remember she would be one of the people who gave showers to the lepers who were pulled out of sewers and filth. Some of them were in such bad shape that they had lice and maggots all over their bodies.”
Describing one of her personal meeting with Mother Teresa Meera said, “Once she had come in from Calcutta, and when I was done feeding this child she took him from me. The little kid threw up on her, completely soiling her clothes and all she did was smile and say this will wash off. Another time I was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching these kids a dance for a Hindustan Unilever event but many of them were handicapped so the dance involved them dancing on their bellies and when it was done she came up to me, hugged me and said it was amazing what you have done.”