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Ngo Initiatives Should Focus On Teaching To Fish Rather Than Giving Fish

By Expert Author: BK Vijay

We believe that NGOs that teach fishing to the disadvantaged are better than those that give fish. To be able to provide permanent uplifting to the needy is many times better than to provide some short term help. Moreover, having this kind of attitude shows a willingness to connect with the disadvantaged from empathy rather than pity.


Giving from pity is being demeaning to a person. Whereas giving from empathy is being respectful and treating the person as your equal. Almost, like “… even I could have been in this situation if not for the opportunities I got.” As Warren Buffet said – 99% of what Americans are is because of being an American. Having this kind of empathy is a superior attitude as it shows having the right values to humankind.


Below you will find a very touchy story cited to be from an eye witness account from New York City:

On a cold day in mid-December, a 10-year old little boy, was standing in front of a shoe store, barefooted, gazing through the window, and shivering with cold.


A lady approached him and asked why was his staring in that window with such a deep thought.


The boy replied that he was asking God to give him a pair of shoes.


Hearing that the lady took him into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked him to get a bowl of water and a towel. The clerk gave them to her.


Then she took the little boy to the back yard of the store, removed her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel. Meanwhile, the clerk had returned with the socks.


She placed a pair of socks to the boy’s feet and purchased him a pair of shoes. She packed up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him.


She patted him on the head and said, ‘You will feel more comfortable now.’


As she started to go, the happy kid caught her hand, looked up into her face, with tears in his eyes, asked her ‘Are you God’s wife?’


No doubt this story touches the noble emotions in your heart. However, just think about it once again. It helped the kid that day and no doubt it is a pleasant experience. But did it permanently solve the problem of the kid – to be able to have permanent earning capacity to have a decent life so that on a very cold winter day you are not without shoes? You know the answer.


Though the action is thoughtful and noble, does not solve the issue at hand. You can only get people out of a disadvantaged situation by teaching them to fish and not by giving fish.


You know many people who are in advantage, squander it away. Such people will always be there in all groups. When you focus on permanent solution, you are focusing on the meritorious but disadvantaged.


By following this approach, there is much more likelihood of bringing in positive change in the world. The regular approach based on pity is an inferior path to take despite the noble intentions.


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