Sitting in a restaurant in Delhi in the middle of Winter (yes Delhi does get cold, this was a shock to me too). Drinking a cup of hot chai with some friends, a discussion quickly arose about the fact that we were all still wearing our outside jackets and scarves and how these would have been swiftly removed had we been in England.
You see, buildings in India are built without central heating largely because mid summer highs sometimes top 40˚C, when all that is required is air-conditioning and ice-cream. The cold doesn’t really register as something to worry about. However, as an Englishman who has come to India hoping to avoid the worst our winter has to offer let me assure you it does get a little nippy, especially at night.
The temperature that day was a cool crisp 10˚C.
During the winter temperatures can fall throughout the night to as low as 5˚C.Now this may not seem that bad but when you’ve been tolerating 40 degree heat throughout the summer then I’m sure you can imagine it would feel a little extreme.
This temperature variance often means that the poorest in Indian society will be badly equipped for the cold weather, dressed in sandals and shirts and without the proper means to insulate themselves from the cold. They are unfortunately the first to suffer.
It was during our conversation at the table that my friend mentioned that he and his family were giving back this year by amassing a collection of blankets, popping them in the back of their car and handing them out to those who were directly in need, largely the poor villagers and homeless city folk.
Now this sentiment really struck home, it enabled me to realise that giving back really was as easy as that. A very simple offering that was easy for me to engage in, that required very little financial outlay and one that would make an incredible difference to individual lives.
Thanks to this, I was inspired to go out into the community and distribute some blankets to those most in need.
This humble offering did leave me feeling a number of things. Pleased with myself in a sense. Seeing the joyous smile on a little girl’s face, as I handed her and her father a blanket, will stay with me for a long while… but the knowledge that the problem will not be fixed over night does offer itself as a grounding balance, almost instantly, as the other desperate people in the vicinity amass rapidly. Needless to say the blankets are gone quickly and I leave somewhat happier than before yet wondering what else can be done.
Since my awareness has moved in this direction I came across the work of another fellow , Enrico Fabian, who has in fact inspired me to dream a little bigger next time. Enrico is a little further down the line in terms of organisation and scope with a similar altruistic project that helps the drug addicted boys and men of Jahangirpuri and the Yamuna Bazar.
Enrico demonstrates the benefits of collective collaboration and the internet to extend our reach and managed to raise a little over 80000 INR / 1300 USD / 1100 EUR and collect a largish amount of donated clothes. A big thumbs up to him! Click here to read more.
Anyways, the longest of journeys start with just a single step and for me it was definitely a step in the right direction. Happiness, or at least a real sense of joy, can be realised through action, but… as I’ve come to realise, the solution lies in the actions of the many, so I’m here telling my story in the hope of magnifying the results :)
If this inspires you to take action as a force for positive change in your community then I’d love to hear about it. As always, I love reading your comments, it really does inspire me when you let me know your thoughts.