I recently talked with a man who has spent his life in India. He was impressed with the Americans he has met who, when becoming aware of the plight and circumstances Indians are faced with, responded by wanting to help; some by giving money and others by wanting to do something, but not sure how. I pointed out to him that he may be surprised that Asians can help Americans out far more than he perceives.
The act of giving money to those less fortunate can feel rewarding, but unfortunately far too often it is done out of feeling guilty rather than sincerely wanting to help. From my experience, giving without expectation of something in return is most rewarding, especially when not done out of guilt.
I think what is most surprising to Americans when helping people in India, Thailand and China is discovering how happy and content so many are even when faced with real poverty. I find it ironic that so many Americans are bitter and angry over their circumstance when, in reality, they are far better off. Considering the abundance even the American poor enjoys, we should be far more happy.
I would like to encourage Americans to spend time and energy in these Asian villages for two reasons. One, you can make a difference economically to people who sincerely need it. People need hope that things will improve. Two, you will benefit and gain perspective in how you, too, can have wealth without money. You can be rich in happiness and be content with whatever you do have, instead of being envious or jealous with what others might have that you do not.
In my many Asian travels and activities in which I have crossed paths with economically deprived people, no matter how much I gave, I gained far more. By giving your time and energy to grateful humble people, you will gain something far more valuable than what you give.
I am happy to live in Lodi among many who see life as I do.