Why We Must Help

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.

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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.

http://www.rangde.org/foreign-investment-faqs

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.

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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.

https://www.children.org/India

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.

https://www.children.org/Sponsorship/Child/Details/44487

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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:

http://www.i-to-i.com/india

http://www.volunteeringindia.com/volunteer-program.html

http://goindia.about.com/od/volunteering/a/volunteerindia.htm

http://www.dreamvolunteers.org/india/volunteer-trips/

http://www.globalvolunteers.org/india/default.asp

http://www.goabroad.com/volunteer-abroad/search/india/volunteer-abroad-1

However, I have some concerns about traveling and volunteering, which I explore here: Volunteering When White.

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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).

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • http://western-hindu.org/ Tandava

    Can I also recommend Sewa international. This does great work and has divisions in the USA, the UK, and Australia allowing tax deductible donations in all these countries. Tax deductible donations can be made by Indian residents from the main website. I make a small monthly donation to them by payroll giving, a UK scheme where you can have donations taken from your gross salary (before tax) without any hassle of having to make claims etc.

    • Ambaa

      I have not heard of them. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://western-hindu.org/ Tandava

    Also, a good way of “giving” to any charity in the UK is Give as you live, an organisation that pays money to a charity of your choice when you shop online at many stores like Amazon, Tesco, and even hotels.

    It works by having a browser plug in that registers purchases as affiliate purchases. This means they get the same money that a site would have got if you followed an advertising link – and donate it to a charity or charities of your choice.

    I would love to know if there are similar schemes in other countries

    • Ambaa

      Very cool!

  • 5w_haul

    Christians are known for buying followers. never believe a christian charity no matter how sincere they are, even teresa was froud.

    • Akhlesh

      Please do not spread hatred.

    • http://amarchotoprithibi.blogspot.com/ Andrea

      This is indeed a problem in India – paying for conversion – but there are many Christians who are doing good for the world just because it’s the right thing to do. World Vision is one of the largest charities out there and although I’m not always 100% in agreement with their mission, they are still doing good. Churches have food banks, soup kitchens, battered women’s shelters, transitional housing, and many other outreach programs.

      There are individual Christians making it bad for other people — like the bullies running the Episcopal diocese I was a member of who cut money from these kinds of programs that helped people and then superciliously said “If you want to fund these programs, fund them with the money you were going to give to the national church” because they disagreed with the politics of the national church and refused to do their part. But they’re the ones who have twisted the message of Jesus, that whole Love God and Love Your Neighbor business, and turned it into something unrecognizable.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Thank you for the links.

  • A Patriot

    Also we should know whom to help . I have visited that site. see this child. Shafi (Muslim) has 7 siblings. They are poor because No family planning. Their Aim is to Produce More children and make another Pakistan. on the other hand even the Rich Hindus have 1 or two children only. you people don’t know what is happening in India…..

    • Ambaa

      The beauty of many of these websites is that you can choose who you feel comfortable helping. So, by all means, if you want to help only Hindus, you can do that.

  • Krishna

    Thank you for a very positive and action oriented article.
    I have a humble suggestion to make, especially to Westerners interested in India and Hinduism. If possible try to stop religious conversions ( Christian and Islam) in India and other developing countries. It is obscene the way evangelization is happening in India at the moment. Along with it, they talk so disparagingly about the new converts’ ancestral faith, and also create divisions in society.

    Kindly influence the powers that be in whatever way you can to stop this inhuman ‘rape of the mind’ program of the church. It’s nothing but a philosophy of ‘my god superior to yours’ which is so antithetical to Sanatana Dharma.


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