Day 253 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I have been having a conversation in my head these last few days about giving as A POWER FOR GOOD. You know, people who go out of their way to contribute to the good of others. They see people in need and give generously or they just give spontaneously and not always out of their excess either. And it’s not always about money!

This edition was published in 2006

What got me started on this? Well, reading a book called “Twopence to Cross the Mersey” actually. The author is Helen Forrester (a pseudonym for June Bhatia, née Huband) and it was written in 1974 as she recalled how her family were plunged into poverty in 1930 when the Great Depression began.

It is a sobering read of a family full of hunger and dirt, with not one change of clothes between them as they had left all their worldly goods to the creditors when they walked out on their wealthy life.

Oh, I almost wept when I read about 12-year-old Helen and her six younger siblings as Helen becomes responsible for the household while her parents try to find work.

I was tempted to get the mother and father and slap them across the face with a wet dishcloth as they continued to smoke instead of providing food for the children. But just when I would get to this point, Helen would express compassion for these two people who had no idea how to parent or to manage money.

But the overall impression that stayed with me was the family owed their existence to the goodness of strangers. Helen had no milk for the baby and was reduced to stealing small amounts from the milk on people’s steps and re-filling the bottles with water.

A policeman who sees her, and later encounters her at the shops with the baby, arranges to provide a pint of milk to her door every day for the next two years … for the baby. He tells no one but Helen ‘knows’ and is grateful because he too would have been on a very meager salary in those depression years. This same story is repeated in the book whenever things get so bad they are not sure how they can go on.

Despite malnutrition, Helen lived to 95.

And then there is the elderly gent in the park whom she meets whilst pushing the two young ones in a pram in order to get out of the slums. He talks to her about books and protects her when the attendant tries to get the decrepit urchins that they were, thrown out of the park. He encourages her to meet him often and instills a love of learning in her when she has been stopped from attending school.

Now this was ‘a giving’ that involved no money but what A GREAT POWER FOR GOOD it was in Helen’s life as she later went to night school and eventually became a Social Worker.

Helen did marry and became a well-known author. She died in 2011 aged 95 years. Her memoirs are a ‘must read’ folks! Try for her books at your local library. A neighbour loaned me the one I am reading.

And then I came across a story in the Sunday paper today about a lady called Marg Meier, 66 who lost her husband four years ago to cancer. As she had no children she was struggling to get over his death and two years later, on the encouragement of her brother, went on an 18 day tour of Vietnam and China.

Here she met an amazing young man – their tour guide – and in an act of generosity she invests some of her wealth by sponsoring him in starting up a business in Vietnam. Now, he is doing well and she has become known to him and his wider family as “Mum” and she goes backwards and forwards to visit and encourage.

It helped Marg emerge from her spiral of despair and she found a purpose: to help someone less fortunate and prosperous than her. Again, that feeling of someone who was helped herself by the POWER FOR GOOD. It wasn’t the aim of her giving but it ended up being the fruit of her giving … a by-product you might say.

Geoff and our new friend Brian in Auckland NZ

Well dear friends, it has had me mulling this morning on what I can do in some small way as A POWER FOR GOOD for others. And in fact, as I said earlier, it may not always be about money, it may be about giving of your time to LISTEN to a lonely old person who needs someone to talk to.

Have you ever been at a cafe alone having a coffee and an old lady (or gentleman) sitting nearby starts to talk to you? I certainly have! I see these times as opportunities to give something, to be A POWER FOR GOOD in their lives.

I remember in 2010, when Geoff and I were in Auckland (New Zealand) for the day and stopped to have a coffee and we had this encounter which I wrote about in my Journal at the time:

“Meeting a lonely older gent called “Brian” whilst having a coffee at the Civic Theatre, was a blessing. He advised us where to head and clapped his hands together like a boy whenever he was happy about something!

Thanks to him we headed off to see a mural of the woman’s suffragettes of New Zealand which led up to a beautiful flower-filled park – Albert Park which we did not know existed.”

When we asked Brian for a photo with him, you could tell he was tickled pink. As we walked away he had the biggest grin on his face. We had made HIS day … but then again he had made OURS too!

And there are a myriad of other small ways we can give and be A POWER FOR GOOD. I think perhaps we can all look for ways in everyday events and see what a difference they make to our lives …