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Monday, March 11, 2013

People Give for Beautiful Reasons

While browsing through Benevolent’s list of needs a few days ago, Benevolent donor Geetha saw a story that touched her heart and made her think. It was the story of Macaba, a woman who reminded Geetha of her mother, Mrs. Swami, who passed away seven years ago.

For the last fifteen years of her life, Mrs. Swami had suffered blindness which hampered her otherwise stalwart, delightful, spirited life. When Geetha read Macaba’s story on the Benevolent site, she was moved to give in dedication to her mom, honoring her by helping another brave woman struggling against the impact of unexpected loss of sight.

Mrs. Swami Photos
Photos of Mrs. Swami over the years 
On the surface, the two women – Macaba and Mrs. Swami - have little in common. Macaba is a young woman; Mrs. Swami lived a long, full life. Macaba is a refugee from Uganda; Mrs. Swami was from India. Macaba is a student; Mrs. Swami raised eight children.

What reminded Geetha of her mother is Macaba’s blindness—and more than that, Macaba’s attitude of engagement with the world that does not let her disability hold her back. “The blindness aspect touched my heart,” Geetha told me.

Macaba Photo
Macaba's photo is
blurred because
she remains in danger
from her persecutors
from Uganda
Macaba, whose story is posted on the Benevolent site right now, fled persecution and torture in Uganda, leaving everything she knew including her family behind. Once in the United States, doctors discovered a tumor pressing on Macaba’s brain, which has since left her with permanent blindness.

Today, incredibly, Macaba is on the verge of completing her Associate’s Degree. Her goal is to continue her education until she is qualified to be a professional counselor. Her dream is to help others.

Macaba’s need is for a special laptop, outfitted with the tools and software that allow her to use it effectively, despite her blindness. Survivors of Torture International, the San Diego nonprofit working with Macaba towards her goals, put forward Macaba’s need on the Benevolent site just last week.

Geetha’s mother, Mrs. Swami, taught Geetha and her seven siblings about helping those in need. “I have always believed, and still believe, that we are products of the values shown and taught by our parents,” Geetha shared.

I am always touched to read the personal reasons that Benevolent’s supporters have for giving. Geetha’s support of Macaba crosses generations and continents. By supporting Macaba in honor of her mother, Geetha honors both women and draws comfort to herself in a way that is both selfless and fulfilling at once.

We’ve only been doing this Benevolent work for just over a year, so maybe in five or six years this won’t surprise me and move me to heartfelt tears as it does today, but man do I love getting a glimpse like this into what spurs people to give and what they derive from the act of helping someone else in this simple, complicated way.

How incredible that a courageous mother from India should be honored by her daughter on the East coast of the United States through a gift to help a woman from Uganda who had fled to safety in Southern California. I find myself deeply touched by this inter-continental honoring of strong women.

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day. Is there a strong woman in your life whom you’d like to honor? You never know what will move you to give.

- megan kashner, founder & ceo

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