We have all at least once in life donated money to a cause, be it to some NGO or some flood relief camp. That amount – howsoever small it may be – has gone to the needy to help them stand on their feet a bit. There are thousands of charity organizations worldwide, owned by companies, celebrities, governments working towards healthcare, education, employment and every such aspect of peoples’ life. But that money you and a million others donate, is that all charity is? Or is there more to charity than mere donation?
According to the dictionary in my phone, charity is generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill or helpless. Mostly these donations are in form of money because it takes care of both financial as well as healthcare needs of a person. Charity as I understand it is providing someone with something you have got enough of. The donated money provides poor people with basic medical facilities which we have access to and other things necessary for survival. This is what charity is but this is not all charity is.
In this article would be discussed a completely different type of charity. One that doesn’t require financial independence and hence can be done by anyone – even a ten year old kid; one that literally starts at home and one that may not benefit humans but it will surely benefit humanity. The concept is the same, giving someone something you have enough of, just the receiver of those donations changes. If helping poor people with money is charity, so is helping poor animals with survival. Because like the poor, they too have requirements with which they need our help to complete.
Talking about the basic requirements, every animal needs at least shelter and food. And although many of us might not be willing to take in street dogs into our homes to provide shelter, the least we can do is provide this shelter to them at the time of need. It is not an uncommon sight to see dogs harboring under parked cars during rainfalls and scorching heat or on the festival of Diwali when they are running wild, scared out of their wits by the noisy crackers. It won’t harm us to let them into our verandahs during these times and hence provide them with a comfortable place to stay. They can always be forced out when shelter is no longer required but whenever it is, sharing your veranda with them is a charity they all will appreciate.
As of food, luckily, we are generous in providing food to stray animals. Many people feed biscuits to street dogs, cooking a chapatti for cow is a ritual and several people have the habit of scattering seeds for the birds. We are quite charitable as far as feeding them is concerned but still there is one area where we could improve. What other source of water do we know of that these animals rely upon apart from the water clogged on streets during rainfall? Some people are kind enough to keep a pot outside their homes for animals to drink from but it would be even better if others joined in too. And just keeping it there is not enough, making sure it is filled at all times is even more important. Because summers is not a time where a gulp of water can satisfy your thirst and because not all birds are smart enough to drop stones into the pot so that they can reach it.
The only difference between the basic needs of humans and animals may be clothing. Clothes are a necessity for the humans but animals hardly bother with them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the weather. We all know that some people keep their pets covered with a layer of clothes during the winters, providing them support apart from their fur while the street dogs just have their fur to battle the cold and many a times, they even die due to it – especially the newborn pups. So maybe not the big fierce ones, but we can cover up the newborns with a bit of clothing to help them keep warm, ensuring not only that they stay comfortable but also can survive that cold and live a life beyond that season.
Though you won’t get any acknowledgement for being generous to the stray animals, but again that should never be the point of charity. Helping humans is a great thing indeed and everyone must be a part of it. Caring for animals while humans struggle is absurd. But caring for humans as well as animals is the best way one can go. Both the charities require different types of efforts, while helping humans mostly means financial assistance, helping animals only requires some physical effort. Those willing to put in this effort can affect the lives of stray animals and change them for better. Because charity is not about improving lives of humans, it’s just about improving lives. So if we can broaden our minds and care about animals too, it’s easy to learn that charity literally begins at home.