Charity is always a good thing. When done, it makes the giver feel good, while completely altruistic charity is almost never found. However, people in a rush to do charity often fail to empathize with the receiver, and fail to understand that the receiver is not some sort of a "circus" for the rest to observe. This was very sadly and more widely observed in the aftermath of the tsunami, where some people were donating used clothes while some others flocked to see how little kids ran after vehicles for sweets. Those people were never beggars. They were ordinary people who were displaced by a natural disaster. They were helpless.
The July 9th issue of the Daily Mirror splashed a picture of a beaming "President’s eldest son Namal Rajapaksa handing over a gift to a wounded soldier" apparently released by the President's office. This of course is no surprise. The fact that Rajapaksa's place a great deal of importance in photographs is not evident anywhere else than at MahindaRajapaksa.com. A quick visit to the site will prove that it lacks anything of any substance except a collection of airbrushed pictures of Mahinda Rajapaksa and a bunch of press releases. Nothing, in terms of results are there to be found.
Getting back to the "charity visit" it is obvious that this soldier who was probably injured during battle had no option but the accept with both hands the gift that was given by "the President's son." And no, it's not the one who got shipped away to England to train in Her Majesty's Navy.
A closer examination of the "gift' makes me wonder how much it cost anyways. It probably cost more to bring this kiddo there to begin with -- security, vehicles and backup vehicles, photographer, road closures (wasted time of others), etc combined. And to top it off, the gift was probably paid for by the State anyways.
What is sadder to note however, is the Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, General Sarath Fonseka smiling away and standing behind. It is indeed unfortunate that a person of his caliber, a professional solider, is put to play second-fiddle to the presidential kiddo. In what capacity is this podi hamu making these visits, accompanying the Commander in tours of inspection? Is this something open to everyone? Where can I sign up for inspection tours?
After everything's said and done, the picture taken, splashed across the newspapers and brownie points scored, does anyone stop to think about how humiliated the soldier might be feeling? There he was once, fighting bravely for his country. In the next instance he's being powdered-up for a charity event of podi hamu. A crying shame indeed.
Giving is always a good thing. When done properly and thoughtfully it is a blessed event for both parties. However, the greatest giving we can possibly make, is what all of us need most -- our dignity.