how to help beggars in india

The Rituals Of Diwali- Old Clothes And Charity

The custom of cleaning houses before Diwali is well accepted. It leads to the discovery of unused and useless items. People want to give away all the unwanted items. Old clothes,  books, and toys top the list. It is a common practice to pass on these items to the domestic help and staff. In other cases, they are distributed to homeless people. I have witnessed the old clothes donation before Diwali in Jaipur a couple of times.

In winters, many people distribute blankets to the homeless and deprived people living on the streets in Jaipur. While some consider it a benevolent act, others contest the benefits of such acts of charity. Why so? Some recipients sell off new blankets for a few bucks and use that money for drugs and alcohol.

homeless-people-india-jaipur-streets-walled-city
A homeless person on the street of Jaipur

Not too long ago, I experienced a brief interaction with an impecunious man on the streets of Jaipur. A group of people distributes free food and tea every morning to the destitute and deprived people living on the streets.

homeless-in-india
Suresh, in frame

Me: What’s your name?

Suresh

Me: What do you do?

I work as a laborer assisting Rickshaw pullers, pushing the bulky load when needed.

Me: How much do you earn from such work?

Rs. 20 per trip

Me: How much does that translate per day?

Enough for me to sustain for the day

Me: How much does total to?

Rs 70-80 per day (USD 1)

This is appalling as it is not enough to eat one full meal.

Me: Where do you stay?

Here (pointing to the street pavement)

Suresh has no place to live and has spent all his life on the streets of Jaipur.

Me: Do you possess any other skills? Where else have you worked?

I have worked at a tea shop.

Me: Why don’t you set up up a tea shop? It will be more fruitful.

Before he could answer, one of his friends called him out as the food was being served. He left in a jiffy requesting me to find employment for him. This entire interaction prompted many questions but no answers.

how to help beggars in india
Volunteer serving tea and food to homeless people in Jaipur

There are substantial homeless people in Jaipur like other cities. Many are daily wage workers and rickshaw pullers, while some are beggars. Many such destitute do drug or are alcohol addicts.

homeless-india-jaipur-pdf

 

Old Clothes Donation in Jaipur

Following the trend from other cities, some citizens in Jaipur developed spaces across the city where one can place old or unused clothes and the person who needs it can gather it up. The first one to start was called “Neki Ki Deewar” or the wall of kindness in Bajaj Nagar and Malviya Nagar.

old-clothes-donation-jaipur-place-bajaj-nagar
Used clothes at Neki Ki Deewar

Some people from associations placed collection boxes in malls where one could deposit unused clothes, books, and toys. The collection is then distributed to institutions and NGOs working with kids and orphanages. Lamentably, this is not an ongoing activity and is confined to a certain period only.

Some people feel many NGOs and agencies don’t pass on the benefits to the needy people as many NGOs in India were involved in scams. This prompted many Individuals to donate directly to schools and orphanages so they can monitor fund utilization closely. A couple of them do run drives to collect unused clothes. It is true that an agency is not required to donate clothes or do charity. One can directly donate unused clothes to the homeless or needy people.

homelessness-article-india-jaipur-street

Should You Donate Old clothes?

It is conventional practice to handover worn-out clothes to domestic help and indigent people in India as it is ingrained in Indian culture. People consider it charity. Is handing out old and tattered clothes an act of charity? Isn’t this disposal?

how-to-help-homeless-people-india-jaipur

Some people maintain the opinion that charity implies providing aid and help to poverty-stricken people so any type of charity is good.

Are we merely making ourselves happy by claiming to do charity when in reality we are simply discarding unwanted stuff lying in our house? The opinions are bound to be divided on this issue. What is yours?

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66 thoughts on “The Rituals Of Diwali- Old Clothes And Charity

  1. Interesting article, Arv. I can’t call it charity when I gave my unwanted stuffs to those who needs. I just called it “give away”. In my humble opinion, when we give charity, it must be something not unwanted to those who needs. It does not have to be something new. Well, let’s say, you have some favorite clothes. While on the road, you saw people without clothes, and thought about how you have many clothes in your wardrobe. It was hard to give because you like them so much. But in the end, you give it to the poors who you saw on the road. That’s what i call charity. By the way, when I wrote “you” it also refers to me 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you understand the concept of charity. There’s a difference between chairty and disposal. Sometimes, it can be both. Charity is triggered by a different set of emotions. Don’t worry with you or me part. It is all generalized. 🙂 Do you have any first hand experience to share relating to chairty?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know why you say so, Arvind! It’s true many of us do not differentiate between the two and it does overlap at times. Many of us contribute to charity not just by giving away valuable/precious things we still love to keep but also through our action/work/time that we spend working with NGOs and the needy. I think the ritual of giving and sharing should be encouraged by all and must involve our children who are more privileged today than any kid has ever been in the past and probably as parents, it will be a lovely thing to leave behind in our children when we are gone, so they can see how festival time is also about caring and sharing what we have with those who are less privileged than us.
    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful thought-provoking post and some awesome black and white shots this week with us, Arvind! So good to see you join in for our #ww too! Have a blessed Wednesday and a lovely week ahead.
    Cheers
    Esha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for adding such beautiful thoughts, Esha. I agree children today have more than their previous generations. I’m happy to say most are also sensitive and sensible and not spoilt. This is a reason why many kids do not want to waste money on crackers and pollute environment.

      I feel it is a topic that will spark many debates and thoughts. And that is also the idea behind this post.

      I’m happy to join you all. Sometimes, it is tough to join either because of time crunch or I have nothing to share…not that I don’t have pictures but my mind just shuts down. I feel WW works best when we post our thoughts or rather thought-provoking pictures. It is not just about pictures but the meaning and thoughts behind those pictures. Isn’t it so, Esha?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely, Arvind! I have been visiting many blogs as a host for our Wordless Wednesday linky party and I realise we don’t always have the perfect picture to share, that can speak for itself. In fact, many times, it seems a picture is more significant to us but the reader who does not know the context finds it less so and so, sharing a brief writeup makes it relevant to them. Having said that, I’m always on the lookout for that perfect wordless picture.
        As an aside, please do join in with your photos, Arvind. Even a collection of photos on a theme, (for instance, the city walks!) will work beautifully! I totally get your point wrt the time constraints we face as bloggers. These days, I’m keeping one day in the week (when I am relatively free) to prepare my Wordless posts for the entire month and then scheduling them for the rest of the weeks.
        We need to find some “hacks” to crack this time crisis, right? 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I agree with time hacks, Esha. I always enjoy your pictures and accompanying words. You write so well, Esha. I always try to join WW. After all, I believe I am the only privileged male blogger in your linky. 😁 I rarely post for Skywatch these days so this is the only linky, I join.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. There will always be some who will take a charitable donation and just sell it to get drink or drugs, but that does not make the charitable act wrong since many others who need it will use it as intended. And even if you are giving away unwanted items, I would still call it charity because it is kinder and more beneficial to do that than just throw them away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with your thought we cannot stop charity because of a few rogue people. There are always exceptions.
      Let me add here a thought someone share on twitter today. A follower mentioned love and affection; she added there should be dignity. The underlying thought must not be disposal of unwanted stuff. The poor people are humans and should be treated that way.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I try and keep minimum unwanted stuff at home. Its like any other day-to-day activity…… so Diwali cleaning does not really involve this.

    In fact, I like to ‘give away’ stuff I no longer use, bored as they simply ain’t wearing out, barely used and don’t see it will be …….. The thought behind this could be any — least /no wastage; reuse; let someone who needs it have it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A lot of people are going on minimalism. I would like to point out while some are working on buying less others have simply opted out of collecting. In essence, these are two different theories. The underlying concept behind the first one is environment friendly outlook.

      It is good that you don’t need an occassion for cleaning. So you are comparatively free before Diwali, unlike others who are busy cleaning their homes..Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are right. One should try and be minimalistic. I am quite a bit of it but definitely not 100%

        Hahaha….. Yes you can say that. My time gets consumed in thinking what to gift friends, family & helps….. Shopping sounds much more fun than cleaning lol…….

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well, I won’t say, I’m recommending minimalism. It is a gradual progression and takes its own time. We can’t impose it on people.

        You sure are shopoholic, Monika. Do your blogging friends also make it to the gift (shopping) list? LOL! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. To be precise a giftaholic …Hahaha. I love gifting 🎁 and why not 😁 blogging friend(s) do stand a bright chance too

        While on minimalism, it’s a personal choice and like you said cannot be imposed.

        What about you? ……. And what’s your clean up style

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Thanks for letting me know that I might be lucky someday! LoL!
        I avoid visiting stores. It is a trap. There’s always something that you want and the list is endless! I hope you know what I mean, Monika!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. We have the same problem here. People use charity shops as convenient dumping grounds, and leave bags of ‘donations’ that are nothing more than rubbish on the charity’s doorstep.
    This is a double negative as the ‘donation’ is unsellable and then the charity has to pay for disposal.
    This is despite everyone having free access to disposal at our recycling centres. It’s just laziness, I feel sorry for those having to deal with it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is sad to hear about this, Sonia. I wish people were a little more sensitive to the situation. People who work in the field of charity are already burdened with so many other things. Instead of coming forward to help them, insensitive people create menace. Thanks for sharing this information, Sonia. It was something new for me.
      Have worked in this sphere?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your opinion. There are many people who help poor and needy.
      Out here, I have sought the opinion of people as to what they think of disposing of old and used clothes to homeless people.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I agree with what you say but at the same time I also feel that giving away clothes and articles in good condition doesn’t harm rather it’s environment friendly. That may not amount to charity though. It’s disposing off. Even then for someone else that very article maybe of great need. In fact this give and take can be done amongst everyone why restrict to just maids and the poor. In fact, its a family culture too in India to pass on clothes, books to younger siblings and cousins. Not sure it happens in today’s generation. When giving away something to maids, one can always make a combination of new and old stuff. Everything said and done, it is indeed heartening to see the poverty in our cities where so many people still don’t have enough to lead the most simplest life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with giving away of things in good and usable conditions if it helps the recipient. We did have a tradition of handing over clothes of siblings in India. This was partly because in the past, the society was close knit and consumerism didn’t exist.
      I always feel what matters the most is the underlying thought behind handing over of the things and humane approach. All of us can make difference. We receive gifts which we never use, we can always gift them to the needy.
      I appreciate your thoughts on this, Neel. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Digressing a bit here, I have become very thoughtful about gifting now. Either I gift people something they need or else don’t gift them at all. During birthdays of friend’s kids I don’t understand what to gift as they have everything and gifting anything else makes me feel I am adding to the clutter. If they are close, i talk it out openly and give something they need or don’t give at all. In all other cases, I have started gifting food items and perishables.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Wow. That’s so thoughtful. I agree with your thought. Gifts are about making a difference. I’m glad you are thinking and doing things in the right direction, Neel. 👋

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Arv, this a great article, thank you for sharing. Right here where I live in the USA Southern California, the number of homeless and poverty is going over the roof, so is this called the richest country of the world? Oh, no. Reading all those great comments, mine will be short. Charity or Giving away , I see not much difference , as long it is given by a carrying heart, of course it shouldn’t be trashy things, having in mind what could be useful for a person in need. We, I mean in general, have so many things we really don’t need or use, why not give it to someone who has a need or even might sell it for little money, we can’t and shouldn’t regulate what happens to our Giveaways or donations. Again, if it all comes from our heart , than we fulfill the purpose of it. “Minds together” from Cornelia

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have heard about the rising incidence of poverty in the USA. The gap between poor and rich keeps on increasing.
      I agree if the charity comes from heart and with dignity, it serves the purpose. I also agree with the fact that we have no control over what happens with the giveaway. And we should not be bothered as we have done what was needed.
      I’m glad you shared your thought on this, Cornelia and the fact you enjoyed reading it. Haven’t seen you around, lately?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know how challenging it is when you are walking on two ropes. Take your time, Cornelia. Everything else can wait. We will be around whenever you can find time. Wish you a Happy Diwali too. I hope you get to travel to Jaipur someday and experience this festival in this city. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Great, thought-provoking article with poignant photos. There are many issues you’ve raised.
    Here in the US, millions of pounds of clothing are donated each year to charity shops. Much of it is unusable, and a great deal is exported to other countries where it ends up in landfills overseas. Giving away unwanted things seems like saying to a friend “Here, I made this food a week ago and my family doesn’t want to eat it. Would you like it?” If it’s an item with value that we would give to a friend, it seems like a charitable act to give it away. If it’s not, then it seems more like just dumping it off on someone else. Also whether they use it by wearing it, or use it by selling it, they benefit from the gift in some way.
    I’ve given away many things to friends in the course of moving and downsizing, and I have to admit have dumped things off at thrift stores as well. These days, my focus is on not collecting things to begin with, and using what I have. If I truly need (vs want) a particular clothing item (undergarments excepted), my habit is shifting to buying it at a thrift store.
    Well, that’s a lengthy comment, so I’ll end for now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate lengthy comment. 🙂
      Thanks for sharing observation and experiences from your part of the world. I guess we humans are similar in our habits except for some minor changes. It certainly is a debatable topic. I appreciate everyone’s thought and opinion for there are no rights and wrongs. Some will contest what’s harm in dumping if it is of little use to them and it might serve some purpose when handed down. I feel the thought and methodology makes all the difference. As someone added, dignity and kindness is paramount.

      Many people are choosing not to buy too many things which needs to be appreciated. I prefer not to buy gifts because everyone has everything. The only exception is when I know it is something that other person needs and enjoys. On birthdays, cake or any edible item makes for a good gift rather than clothes, electronic gadgets, shoes….
      I have seen many roadside vendors selling used clothes at cheap rates. There is a huge demand because that’s what many people can afford. I have seen many shops selling second hand clothing in Europe which by Indian standards are terribly expensive. But there is a huge market even in Europe. There cannot be generalizations on this topic. Appreciate your inputs and thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Me and my neighbor used to share same household helper. One day in her house the helper got burnt while boiling the milk so she was not able to work for 15 days. My neighbor wanted to cut the salary for 15 days and she expected me too do the same. I strongly refused.
    Story continues……
    During deepawali this neighbour gave her old sandwich maker to this helper saying that she is buying a new one. Old one didn’t work and even the repair person said that it can’t be repaired.
    I sometimes wonder if people really do charity or they think that needy people are dustbin???

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s really sad to hear this. Why can’t people be more humane and treat less privileged ones with dignity?
      From my experience, people in cities tend to exhibit such behavior more than anywhere else.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is every where Arv. Mostly people don’t do charity of clothes because they are really kind and gentle…. because they want to get rid of those unwanted ones.
        Here in one of the orphanage there is rule of not to bring clothes. Instead they want cooked food and fruits for children.

        Genuine people are definitely there and they don’t wait for any occasion for charity.
        By the way, your black and white pictures are awesome, loved them!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m sure the orphanage realized that old clothes offers no value. Personally, I feel unless the other person is open for using old clothes, it is demeaning.
        I agree that sensitive people don’t wait for any occasssion when it comes to charity.
        I’m glad you liked these pictures, Deeksha. It will be great to from you what you liked about these pictures, Deeksha?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. In general I like to watch people, their activities and sometimes by seeing the expressions I even try to guess what might be going on in their mind.
        I noticed all this in your photographs…. normal people, their work, sitting just like that. You can feel a connection with photos.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I get that. You love people watching. The best place to do people watching is in market squares in Europe. Just choose a cafe and sit back, watch the show. There is so much to see and decipher from body language, walking style….
        Thanks for letting me know what you like. There’s a huge debate whether one should photograph people in the street or not? No easy answers.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Don’t know about this debate, but i definitely love to see good photographs… Humans, nature or food… good photographs really create magic!!

        Wishing you a very happy and prosperous Dhanteras and Deepawali 🎉🎊

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Great article that everyone should read in terms of dignity. It’s sad that the less fortunate are never given a second chance. Great inspiration for me to start donating all my clothes that in my closet that I don’t use and get them to the shelter fast.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The question that you raised at the end of the article made me question what people do in the name of charity,I have seen people give away their old unusable stuffs to less fortunate ones,but some of those products nobody could use again,my question even when I was an infant circled around the fact can’t we contribute a little amount of our luxury into buying new things for the ones who need it,
    The true spirit of diwali comes when we know how to share the love with all the ones we are surrounded with.
    Thank you for writing it Arv.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you filtered out the true essence of Diwali, Neha. Certainly Diwali is about the joy of gifting and the festive mood.
      It is sad to see people handing out unusable things to the poor. I wish such people had a liitle more “soul”. I’m sure someday they will realize it.
      Anyways, wishing you and your family – Happy Diwali.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Charity is the privilege of the affluent and the mighty arv. We can only donate a little to the needy. If we give what we don’t need, it might help those who can’t afford it. Goonj has been reaching out to people in this venture of collecting used clothes and distributing to others. They claim that even a small shred of rag is made usable for the poor.
    Here, in US, donation is more organised, as the organisations send an advance notice about the day their van will collect the bags, which are kept outside the house with their flyer taped to the bag. Every change of the season, people donate used items of all sorts.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. First I’d like to say that I loved this post of yours. I think that you’ve done a very nice and helpful reportage, showing a true street drama . It happens not only in Jaipur, but also in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I live. It is great that your photos focus mainly on people. My opinion is that one should always try to give poor people things in the best possible condition, at least so that they can really be used, be it clothes or other objects, like toys. If they are torn or broken I think that one should try to deliver them to recycling, if possible, but not give them to poor people; they deserve to be treated with dignity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robert. I certainly agree with your thought. We should poor in the best way possible and treat them with dignity.
      Have you posted pictures from Sao Paulo? It will be great to see pictures from your part of the world!

      Like

      1. Thanks for your reply. So far I haven’t posted photos from Sao Paulo, because my blog is focused on telling my story of how I am building a website by myself. But my site is going to be ready soon and it will contain several pictures of Sao Paulo for you to see.

        Liked by 1 person

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