I am often pestered with so many questions by so many people about so many vivid things on so many occasions with so much anticipation that I must answer like an egghead that it actually makes me want to choke on barbiturates, so many times. Although my morbid thoughts are likely to have killed the buzz created by the title, if you have read it till this comma, you might as well, read it till the end because, this one time I have decided to answer the question with some amount of seriousness.
Look, I don’t want to sound ideal by answering two thousand things you know already and anticipate from the ideal youth of the nation. Let’s be real and start from the rock bottom. For any person of around my age, “What do you expect from NGOs?” is a question as good as “What is the color of the woods in Amazon circa mid-September?” Know what I am saying? Most of the young people out there are completely unaware or disinterested in NGOs let alone expecting something from them. The reason? Perhaps the myriad NGOs that exist all around us and make us feel skeptical about joining any. Let me explain this a bit in terms you would understand. You know how the bad, bad, bad reputation of China-made products has made us lose our faith in the China-made products no matter how good they are, is the same exact manner in which the large number of NGOs that stay idle like a python and do nothing but talk a lot has made us skeptical about putting our faiths in all the NGOs, no matter how good many of those are. The problems begin there. If you don’t have the interest of the person you are talking to, how are you gonna make them get involved with you? It maybe a great tragedy on our part but it holds a good reason and I believe we should all collectively work to eliminate it.
And yet, if you ask me what would I, as a representative of my generation expect from a NGO, I’d say I’d want them to make people self sustained. This is a seemingly easy statement but the reasons I hold to say it are many and if I put a light upon them, you would see the acute need of doing what we expect. A NGO working for some cause is a good thing, but the idea of feeding someone all their lives in the name of charity or just because I make enough money and have some surplus is crass. A NGO that rather helps people build their homes is a better idea. It is good in so many ways – it can create a large number of employments which in turn would increase the GDP (yes let’s not forget the nation while we are doing things for people of the nation) , it can build families, make them learn to rely on themselves for their own food so there won’t be any feeling of being burdened under the generosity of someone else and there won’t be any uncertainty about getting the daily bread as well, and since the previous lot of people for whom the NGO has created employments won’t be dependent on the organization directly for financial support except for the wages, the organization can reach a wider segment of society. And moreover, a person with a job is a far better person for the society than the one who lives off your mercy.
My thoughts might seem radical to you in this sense, but look I’m a 22-year old who is going to be tomorrow’s working class and I won’t want to blow my money under a “Donate for the needy.” sign at all. A NGO rather than just asking for funds to give away clothes to a certain class of people or fund the education of their children, should be an enterprise, a work-house, an industry that gives jobs to the ones who are in acute need and make their lives better by giving them a robust, permanent, way to support themselves. So as much as it is true that I won’t even look at a “Charity’ sign twice, while sweating on a hot May afternoon, if I see an organization that is selling sweaters made by the blind and the money collected is going to pay them their wages, I’ll buy it without a second thought. That’s what I’m saying. Rather than being a part of or joining just some NGOs that raise funds, I’d rather be a part of a NGO that generates a solid, regular income in a nation where every single person earns his food only after toiling for it.
That’s what most of us think. That’s what we expect from NGOs. And mind you, we are tomorrow’s taxpayers, so take us seriously.
(Previously published in Lion’s Club Magazine)