As Hindus, I think we have a unique call to help others. Unlike the religions of the west, the religions of “the book,” we believe that every living creature has God within it. Our true Self, our true nature as human beings is divine. We treat others as we would like to be treated because that “other” is us. Every other person on the planet struggling is us struggling.
Because of the belief in reincarnation, that bad situation half a world a way could literally become our circumstances. We must work to make everywhere on earth a habitable and happy place because at any time we could die and be reborn in any spot (and for other reasons also, of course!)
It can be overwhelming to figure out how to help others around the world.
Here are a few ideas of things that we in the west can do to help impoverished areas of India. Remember to look close to home for opportunities to help too. Food drives, serving food at shelters, or volunteering to visit those in the hospital: there’s a lot we can be doing to improve the life of the Self.
Rang De is a microlender.
This is a brilliant and relatively new way to help.
As you know, I’m in a bit of a tough financial place now, my husband being out of work for over a year now. But even I have $20 to spare here and there. And the best thing about micro-lenders is that that same $20 can help more and more people indefinitely.
It helps one person start her business and she pays back her loan, and you get the money back to send out to someone else and when he pays it back, you can send it out to someone else.
If you want to get money back out with Rang De, you would need an Indian bank account.
I recently invested in a vegetable growing business. She will need several other investors to get her to her goal. Check out her application at http://www.rangde.org/borrower/Business/india/Orissa/Anupama-Neti/28874
Kiva.org is the same idea with borrowers from all over the world. It’s super easy to select exactly whom you would like to invest in and you can get started for $25.
Sponsoring children is a way for those in well-off countries to make a big difference for poorer people in the world. An amount of money that is very little to me could buy a lot elsewhere in the world.
Q. Is Children International affiliated with any specific religion?
A. Children International is a secular organization which respects people and organizations from all faiths and walks of life, but is not affiliated with any specific faith. Our mission aligns with the missions of many faith traditions because we believe that all children living in dire poverty deserve the life-changing benefits and opportunities sponsorship provides.
This is $25/month, which is a little too much for us right now, but it is my goal to do this also.
Another way I would like to help is to do volunteer projects in India. Once my husband has a job again we plan to start a savings plan to allow us to travel every other summer or so and regularly go to India to help others (and once we have children to teach them the value of helping others). The trick, of course, is to find volunteer programs that are not Christian-based and focused on spreading gospel!
Here are some companies I have discovered:
However, I have some concerns about traveling and volunteering, which I explore here: Volunteering When White.
It surprises me that Christians are the ones who are most known for charity and helping others. I think Hindus should take that title! We have every reason to help all the world as part of our family. I would like to create a world where the first thing someone thinks of when hearing the word “Hindu” is compassion and charity. It’s up to us to make that happen!
UPDATE: Our friend Tandava pointed out in the comments that there is a Hindu-based International charity called Sewa International. (Link to the U.S. site).