Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

Charitable giving this Ramadan

As Muslims, we have to be thinking of where to give our money throughout the year, but especially when we must.
 
Should we give to one organization or, should we divide it among a few…or many?
While giving to one organization may focus more money towards your favorite charity, there are many others who also deserve some money and even small amounts help a lot. It can make them feel their work is appreciated and although your donation may seem like a drop in the ocean, the sages say, “surely even the drop increases the ocean”.
 
Muslims support the Masjid they frequent and for the most part, we sit satisfied after giving to them. Some of us also give to periodic calls for emergency aid…calls that are unfortunately, getting less periodic and more frequent…there are victims of hunger, war, floods, earthquakes, diseases…the causes are as endless as is the suffering.
 
“Compassion fatigue”, some say, as if to excuse further giving. Sadly, “Compassion fatigue” is for the fortunate one who are not in need of immediate compassion.
“Compassion fatigue” is an abdication from Life, some of us feel as if we can just throw up our arms and ask the skies, “Just how long am I supposed to continue giving?!” The answer, although we do not hear it, is, “As long as you are alive”.
Not only must we give as long as we have money, we must continue to give even when we do not have the money…can we get some money for a worthy cause from someone else? Can we DO something for the cause? Can we SAY something in support of the cause?
ALL of this, counts as charity.
 
Then there are causes that we would prefer not to know about and if they are brought to our attention, we want to deny it is happening…at least among OUR people!
The bad news is that whatever is happening to “others”, is also happening among “our people” and no amount of avoidance is going to make the misery of others go away, not even when we think we have forgotten all about the issue.
 
I am speaking specifically about Domestic Violence…violence perpetrated by the dominant family member, on the other family member and this is almost always, the man of the house, abusing the woman of the house.
Violence is not always the case of the man slapping or punching his wife, violence can also take the form of severe verbal abuse…the humiliating, belittling, paralyzing, volley of words that make the victim cower and lose her self-esteem and her identity. Sometimes, the scars of verbal violence last a lifetime, even after the victim has escaped the oppression of her abuser.
No, neither the scars, nor the memories can ever fade for the victim.
 
Look around yourself. How many people do you see in a day? How many of them are women?
 
Statistically, 2-in-5 are victims of domestic violence.
This includes women you love and respect as well…2-in-5 are victims of domestic violence.
 
Chances are, you are aware of more than one example of women who are or, were, victims of domestic violence, physical AND emotional; there are the direct victims and there are also the indirect victims…the “collateral damage”, in modern parlance…the children who would quake in fear and be too terrified or intimidated, to interfere.
Perhaps you were one of them.
 
It really doesn’t matter if the family is a rich one or, a poor one; educated or uneducated; Muslim or non-Muslim… 2-in-5 are victims of domestic violence.
 
Locally, in the Puget Sound area, one organization that helps victims of domestic violence (better known as survivors of domestic violence), is Chaya, focused particularly towards South Asian people. Contrary to some perceptions, Chaya does not influence women who contact Chaya, to leave the house, Chaya lets the victims decide for themselves, what they wish to do and then assists them in the follow-through; victims need to take the power in their own hands, regarding their own future and sometimes, the futures of their family members.
 
South Asian families tend to be very secretive and very concerned about the loss of face if people find out that they (the women) are victims of domestic violence. Many South Asian women got married in the Old Country (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) and have no support base in this country. Tragically, many abusive men, exploit this isolation and keep their wives in a virtual prison, controlling where they go, who they meet and when; the men dole out small increments of money and keep the wives dependent entirely on them. This can go to such extremes that sometimes the women start stealing from stores in order to get the things for their children that they so desperately need…it is not shortage of money but the deprivation, that drives these women to shoplifting.
South Asian women also suffer from other handicaps which are sometimes real and sometimes, imaginary. They suffer from loss of “Marketability”; women who have left their husbands or, whose husbands have left them are generally not regarded as marriageable in their own cultures. Sometimes too, their own families disapprove so much that the women have left their husbands, that they refuse to accept them back. These considerations are so real that women are even more reluctant to leave an abusive environment.
 
South Asian communities are not geared towards awareness of and help for the victims of domestic violence, all too often they also seek to hide the facts of domestic violence in a misguided attempt to “protect” the community from shame. Community centers…the Masjids, the Mandirs and the Gurdwaras, tend to persuade reconciliation on the families even when it is impossible. The result is that the woman gets more abuse from her husband because the word got out and she no longer feels she can go to her community for help.
Very few of all those who suffer from domestic violence, contact agencies like Chaya, usually because they are not aware of where to go for help.
 
Chaya also has programs that help create awareness of domestic violence and other programs that help adults and children, learn to respect each other and avoid violence, domestic or otherwise.
 
Chaya is now in the process of merging with the Asia-Pacific Safety Center a.k.a. “Safety Center”, an organization that is focused on the South-East Asian and Pacific Islander communities, its focus also includes human trafficking where men and women are brought to this country for slave labor or for forced prostitution.
The merger of Chaya and Safety Center, when complete, will expand the services and the communities while becoming more efficient in their task…greater resources will be able to be used to help a greater number of people and will also be able to help educate greater numbers of people in the South- and South-East Asian communities.
 
2-in-5…40%.
 
That is a horrible statistic.
Does one compare these numbers with the wars, the floods, the famines and the disease that are scouring the Earth right now?
There is no equivalence, no way to “prioritize” what or who deserves our support more…no luxury of “Compassion fatigue” that will make these problems go away.
 
The only thing we can do is to help out whenever and wherever we can and thank God that we are not suffering as “they” are…
As we eat and drink, we need to think of those who cannot.
As we sit in comfort, we need to think of those who only know the fear of living from minute to minute.
As we sit with our families, we need to think of those who have lost their families to the ravages of violence.
As we share the love in our families, we need to think of those whose lives are shattered by the cruelties of domestic violence.
 
As we think of these issues, we MUST move to give whatever we can and even what we cannot, to help create some, tiny, measure of relief for those less fortunate than ourselves.
 
Locally, include Chaya in your list of organizations to help; do it today.
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August 17, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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