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The Pride and Joy of Giving, by Anagha Lokesh

Giving. The word giving can mean so many things, like giving back to the community, giving more than you take, or simply the definition as given by the Oxford dictionary; providing love or other emotional support, and caring. The word giving for me mainly retains to give back to the community. Back in January of this year, I was casually flicking through an after school program’s website. Suddenly, something caught my attention.

“Hey,” I said as I walked towards my Mom, “Can I attend this meeting that’s on Saturday?”

“Sure,” she said, “What’s it about?”

“My teacher, Mr. Kiran Palla, is bringing in the CEO of a non-profit organization in Uganda, and he is starting a new project to help them.” “Of course you can attend it!” she exclaimed, “I think I’ll attend the meeting with you.”

“Ok,” I replied, and went back to scrolling through the website, waiting for Saturday to arrive. Finally at around 11:30 am on Saturday, I joined the meeting with my mom, and we waited around for a couple of minutes for them to start the meeting.

“Hello everyone!” suddenly chirped a lively British accent. I was really surprised and started to look for the speaker, but as I was looking I heard, “I’m Joseph Cummiskey, and I’m the CEO of a non-profit organization called Hands for Hope.”

Oh, I thought in my head as I exchanged glances with my mom, So that’s who the guest speaker is.

Mr. Joseph continued, “Hands for Hope helps the poorest of the poor kids who are from the Namuwongo Slums, in Kampala, Uganda, and helps get them the best possible chance in life with basic needs.” He then told us that in 2009 he started Hands for Hope, and he had moved from the UK to permanently live in Uganda to run his organization and to help all the children who needed it.

“That’s really cool,” I told my Mom. I was really amazed and surprised at how much Mr.Joseph had accomplished in the past few years, and he wasn’t really getting anything for it. It was just charity work. “I wonder if we can do some sort of donation project for them.”

“Yeah,” my Mom said, “That sounds like a really good idea.”

I was about to ask Mr.Joseph on how we should help, but then my teacher said, “Wow Joe, that was a very touching story, is there any way we could help you?”

“Yes, in fact there is,” he replied, “We would love to start a teaching project with your academy, to help these kids with their education. Any donations would also be greatly appreciated.”

“Alright then Joe,” my teacher replied, “We’ll let you know when we have the funds so we can start the teaching project.”

I wanted to donate money, but not only that, so I decided to visit the Hands for Hope website to see what else I could do.

“Hey look,” I eagerly said to my Mom as I shoved my computer in her face, “There’s an option for us to sponsor kids for life with their basic needs like food, water, medicine, etc. !’’

“That’s interesting,” she said thoughtfully as she looked through the website, “I have an idea, why don’t you try and show this to our extended family members, and see if they will donate and maybe sponsor a kid.”

“Oh yeah, that seems like a really good idea. I could make a presentation, and then present it to them.”

“Sure. I can help you if you want?” my Mom offered.

“Yeah, I guess. It wouldn’t hurt to have someone to give me feedback.”

Over the course of around two weeks, I worked every day to make the presentation compelling enough to get some funds, and to get kids sponsored. Finally, I reached out to all of my family members, across the globe, and we scheduled zoom meetings so I could show them what I had created. Although I had rehearsed so many times with my Mom, I was really nervous, and wanted to make sure I could convey what I was trying to say, clearly, and concisely. When it was finally time for me to start, I cleared my mind, and just started to speak, “Hello all, thank you for coming to this meeting to discuss my fundraiser for the Hands for Hope organization…..

“Good job!” my Mom said after I finished presenting. Overall I did a good job, but sometimes I stumbled, but they all got the message I was trying to convey.

In the end, I raised about $2,500 and got six kids sponsored for life. Mr. Joseph decided to use the money to build two virtual classrooms, with computers, projectors, and even tools to help the students learn better! As an extension to this project I am now actively involved with a team of students and planning a virtual classroom to teach the kids from Hands for Hope. I learned a lot from this experience, and found it very rewarding as well. When I went to the next meeting for the project, Mr. Joseph, along with my teacher, recognized me for my efforts, and I felt very proud of what I accomplished. There is one quote from an ancient Hindu scripture, and it states, “Charity given to a worthy person simply because it is the right thing to do , without consideration of anything in return, at the proper time and in the proper place, is stated to be in the best act of goodness.” I think that helping the kids in Namuwongo is a worthy cause to start an act of charity.