The Joy of Giving: A Meaningful Legacy

HappinessAwesome Moments

In 1956, a small village named Indana in Rajasthan, India, was suffering from severe drought. The land was parched, which left people jobless, as agriculture was the main occupation.

The village was home to my mother’s grandfather, a very rich man who owned a cotton business. He possessed acres of fields and lived in a huge mansion called a haveli. He was deeply disturbed because while people were dying of starvation, he lived a luxurious life.

He could not bear to see the people of his village suffer.

He decided to dig a huge pond on part of his land. He sent a message to the whole village that he needed workers to excavate land in order to make a lake. All of the jobless people in the village gathered on his land and started digging. After the lake was completed, water sprang up from underground to fill it. My mother’s grandfather paid the workers a handsome amount for their efforts. The whole village was relieved from poverty and had sufficient water to continue with agriculture. The people of the village were happy and thanked and blessed my mother’s grandfather.

My mother told me this story about a year ago. After hearing it, I asked her if I could do something for the needy, since social contribution is a legacy in our family. We decided that I would celebrate my birthday by distributing good food, clothes, and books in an orphanage.

I went to an orphanage called Aniketan in my city, Aurangabad, and spent my whole day with the children. There were about 12 children ages 2 to 16. The youngest was Rahul, an adorable 2-year-old boy. I was touched by the simplicity of the children and surprised to see how they lived their lives with minimal needs. The orphanage had sparse furniture and was housed in a visibly old building. The children brightened the environment with their smiles and it did not seem to matter to them that they did not have fancy clothes, food, independent rooms, or many other comforts that I always took for granted.

At first the children were shy because they did not know me, but when I sat with them and distributed some goodies they all became my friends. Then we played hide and seek in the garden. Most of the children were very young and enjoyed such games. We took pictures together, and they drew in a book that I had given them. All the children were very excited to show me their drawings. I must say, the drawings were beautiful.

Then I cut the cake; the Happy Birthday song they sang for me still rings in my ears! I distributed the cake and food to my newfound friends and they merrily ate it with so much gratitude that it brought tears to my eyes.

Visiting the orphanage changed the way I see the world. It stirred in me feelings of compassion and love towards the people in our society who live with so many challenges, and it inspired me to do more for them. When I saw the joyful children I experienced an empowering feeling that brought an endless smile to my face and continues to do so. I will cherish this unforgettable experience for a lifetime. The love I received made me realize how my mother’s grandfather must have felt after helping the villagers of Indana. I felt the joy of giving, which was so much more fulfilling than any other thing was or could be.

Recently my mother went to visit Indana. When the people learned she was the granddaughter of the man who helped their families during hard times, they blessed her, too. Happiness flowing from goodwill is infectious and timeless.

To this day I cannot believe that my ancestor’s story brought about such a change in my thinking; it inspired me to do something with respect to my potential. I never thought that such a small gesture could bring smiles to people’s faces and that their smiles in turn could make me feel so fulfilled.

After meeting the children at the orphanage, I realized that happiness is not just having luxuries, expensive games, or fancy clothing. It is making someone else happy through selfless contributions and sharing joys and sorrows with others.

Akanksha Kudal is 14 and in the ninth grade. Her hobbies include cooking Indian food, listening to music, and writing for KidSpirit. She is interested in playing piano and loves to travel.

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