The hand of philanthropy in a pandemic

Discovering the joy of giving

Almost everyone has experienced adverse effects from the current Covid-19 pandemic in various facets of their lives, the outright destitute being the hardest hit.  Ordinary people, rich and poor, are rising to the occasion to respond to their needs and trusting in their own capacity to give life and alleviate suffering. This observation is heartwarming and has prompted me to share some lessons about giving that I learnt from my own volunteer experience at a children’s home and a book titled Sharing Life by St. Martin community with the hope of inspiring even more charity towards ourselves and others during this crisis.

Sharing is the act of showing up for each other and ourselves by giving material possessions or intangibles such as our presence and consideration. Sometimes the most powerful moments are small, everyday things available to all of us whose discovery rely on our attitude. If our attitude hides an invisible superiority, it will humiliate the one who receives and our hearts will remain unchanged therefore we must remember to share with humility and to be open to receive the gift of the poor which is the transformation and love we experience when we share in a deep and genuine way.

Giving requires energy and commitment and can feel like a burden on the long term if the true reciprocal nature of the encounter is not recognized and appreciated. While it’s clear how the vulnerable need those with plenty, the opposite is often not so obvious. In a mysterious way, the poor and the weak have the gift of bringing out the resources of love and solidarity within us the same way a small weak child awakens the hidden motherly love in her mother that she never knew that she possessed.

The poor introduce the strong to a world of loving relationships and bring down their walls hence enabling them to discover their own vulnerability and weakness so frequently hidden behind power, roles and social standing. Seemingly, the vulnerable have been entrusted with a mission to help them discover the true joy of sharing and love in their hearts.

We all seek happiness especially our own and yet we can never be truly happy if we cut others off or obtain our happiness through the suffering of others. In working together, the poor have the opportunity to discover their strength and regain their dignity and the strong have a chance to overcome their weaknesses and develop into more complete human beings.

Part of sharing is giving to ourselves and accepting love. Most of the time we believe that we are the only ones who can offer solutions but it is necessary to see the gifts of other people and trust in their capacity to love. We all have our hidden insecurities and while it’s not easy to accept this, there are many people around us ready to promote love and give to us as well. Let’s keep encouraging the benevolent spirit within ourselves and each other.


Esther Njeri Karuku

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