05.12.2007 Feature Article


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“What difference can my contribution make?” You might be tempted to ask.

IN A POVERTY-STRICKEN society such as ours, it is a big burden to extend magnanimity to fellow Ghanaian as the attempt is as if one is asks to carry the needs of the entire society on his or her head. The begging list does not end. Once you volunteer to pay for a poor child's tuition fee, you would be required to provide a pocket money and in some extreme cases buy a bike for school. The benefactor is left with a mixed thought as to whether it was worthwhile at all to have ventured to extend a hand to the needy.

In our continuing efforts to be our brothers' keepers ,it's challenging ,draining and even discouraging to be seen as being selfish and insensitive to the needs of others when as a matter of fact, one is doing his or her best to reach to the needy. There is much joy in giving. In fact, giving provides inner satisfaction to the giver. The desire of giving quickly turns into headache, when one realizes that there is no end in sight for the “beggars” who want every ounce of the benefactor's hard-earned possession and money. The impression is created that they must suck the benefactor until he or she has nothing to give.

Nevertheless, we shouldn't forget the unfortunate ones in our communities. Every Ghanaian regardless of his or her income, age, available time and skills—can extend a helping hand to the needy. It's a cultural and spiritual obligation to give back to the very people who supervise the growth of your teeth. There is no single soul in Ghana or in the Diaspora who doesn't owe anyone for his or her success. Somewhere on your way to success someone might have given you a shoulder to stand on. I bet there are countless individuals whose names you have tucked in your memory archives, for having helped you at one time or the other. Perhaps it was your class one teacher or the old lady who lived next door in your neighborhood .Giving does not necessary mean dishing out money but, old-fashioned acts of GENEROSITY and KINDNESS. It's good to give money but, there are tons of things that you can do to support the less fortunate.

The gift of time, skills, things, and ideas are as important and effective as contributing cash. For example, leading a group to clean your community could be a great gift. Equally important but, which has been over looked, could be organizing after school activities for the students in your town. You can also tutor students in your spare time or talk to children in your neighborhood, to boost their self confidence. Those are not hard to do, right?

Yes, I know most of the problems in Ghana cannot be adequately addressed without more realistic government's policies, more competent and honest public administrators and aggressive investment in social amenities. Regardless of governments or lack of it, as individuals we have a very important role in this equation.

In a society which tends to associate 'happiness' with getting everything for oneself, why should I keep on hammering on the need to Giving? Because when you help someone you're in effect helping yourself. This is how it works:

Social scientists' studies have found out that ,”Since depression, anxiety and stress involve a high degree of focus on oneself ,so focusing on the needs of others literally helps shift one's thinking” .In other words, when you're experiencing and expressing compassion and kindliness they help to push aside the negative emotions and make you feel good. And, once you feel good it's most likely you will do well. Voila! Giving has an incredible effect on your psyche.

The fear of scarcity:
Don't let the fear of scarcity –that you won't or don't have enough –prevent you from helping others. This fear sometimes creates an illusion that if one gives one will not have anything left for him or herself .There is also the fear of volunteering time and energies into a worth-while activities , which are likely to benefit the members of the community because there will not be enough time left to do other personal things. One of the secrets of life is that, there is reward in giving. It may sound very paradox but, it is on e of the great truths of life: To become more knowledgeable you should teach people what you know. To have freedom you need to give freedom to others, to be prosperous you should give prosperity to others. To make more money you have to be able to give more service and meet customers' needs and desires. Those who give more tend to have more than those who do not. It is only when you give out that you make room for more. It's the LAW of NATURE.

Where do you invest your heart and your Gifts?

Our personal fulfillment and inner satisfaction begin with the discovering of our “Gifts” .and using them to make a difference in the lives of others. Perhaps you have the gift of making music that touches the soul, maybe you have the gift of seeing the great potentials in people; the gift of being a motivational speaker or a prolific writer, a healer or a builder of great communities, a defender of the defenseless people ,a gift of being a great leader to lift your people from the bondage of poverty and hopelessness .What ever you gifts are share them without counting. I believe while there are different levels of joy and happiness, the highest level comes when we bring Joy and happiness to ourselves by giving to others. If you don't believe me just try it.

I want to caution that I am just a spiritual person. I do not attend any church on Sundays; therefore, I can not classify myself as a religious person. But just as others have done, I have invested great amount of hours into research—reading hundreds of books by great achievers and thinkers—from Paul Getty to Napoleon Hill, from Dan Kennedy to Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. Almost all of them talk about the power of Giving. All these people could be wrong. So if you disagree with everything you have read so far to this point that is okay. But, my heart will not bleed as long you have followed me to this far... Your heart is in the right place. You surely want to do something for your fellow Ghanaian so why will you not start now? I mean right now. You have the means and at least the time to spare... I am not talking about what you drop into church collection plate, every Sunday.

Incidentally, I fully realize you are quite generous in your own right. I suspect that is the case. Stingy and unkind persons rarely read articles about GENEROSITY and Charity. I do not discount your social accomplishment or your will to help your community .I'm not trying to advocate giving all your money to the less –fortunate people in Ghana. Or spend all your money on churches. Generosity has its corresponding effect. But, if you think you should be financially rewarded because you are kind to people, Pet, or kids you will be disappointed and probably dislike God. Doing something good to enrich and improve the lives of people is great thing you can and should do because it gives you a sense of wealthy and that sense or mental state of being wealthy attracts more wealth. Once you think wealthy, you feel wealthy, act wealthy, speak wealthy, and be perceived more favorable by others.

I would like to share a powerful passage from a popular book written by one of the world's greatest achievers, with you. In his book, published in 1991' Awaken the Giant Within ', Anthony Robbins writes, “Don't turn into the trap, though, of trying to contribute to others at your own expense. But, if you can consistently give to yourself and others on a measurable scale that allows you to know that your life has mattered. You will have a sense of connection with people and a sense of pride and self-esteem that no amount of money, accomplishments, fame, or acknowledgements could ever give”.

*Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi is a social commentator, Chairman of Asuom Youth Club (AYC) and founder of Adu-Gyamfi Educational Empowerment and Apprenticeship Foundation.

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