“We do not have to be enormously wealthy in order to help … You do not have to look too far for the needy. They are all around us, perhaps even sharing a pew with you.”
I CONFESS THAT I SOMETIMES SHED TEARS watching these episodes. What I find moving is seeing grown men and women being emotionally overwhelmed by the life stories of people they choose to help. You may also have watched this TV series, “Secret Millionaire”.
The programme features successful entrepreneurs leaving their privileged positions and going into deprived communities to live incognito for a few days. During this period, they try to identify the needy and deserving individuals or causes to which they wish to contribute time and money.
In the course of their quest, these “hard-nosed” business people are often confronted with the harsh day-to- day life struggles of the down-and- out. Many are forced to confront their own rich but shallow and self-centred existence. By the end of each episode, you get the sense that although they gave away tens of thousands of their personal wealth freely, they came away being personally enriched by the experience.
It would seem that their brush with this slice of reality has reminded them of what is important in life, for example, family ties, good health, a steady job, a roof over our heads. For others, witnessing the courage and perseverance had humbled them. Most, I conclude, have found that their lives can be lived in a more meaningful way, if only briefly.
I wonder how many more secret philanthropists are out there? How many more are tired of living their lives in such a futile and cynical fashion? How many desire to break free from a comfortable but ivory tower existence? How many long to find the joy of living meaningful lives that money cannot buy?
We do not have to go undercover to break free from our identities. We do not have to be enormously wealthy in order to help. In one episode, a retired professional boxer gave of his time and shared his experience in boxing so that kids could get oﬀ the streets. Others volunteered to clean up houses and help put on a fresh coat of paint to the shabby homes of the poor.
Finally, you do not have to look too far for the needy. They are all around us, perhaps even sharing a pew with you.
NOTE: The Methodist Welfare Services has need for volunteers who could have a range of talents and abilities to bring a ray of sunshine to the lives of the less fortunate in our society.
Benny Bong is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, is a family and marital therapist.