Hello Bhosale Aunty, how are you? (Reading the name from the door)
We are carrying out a survey and doing an analysis in your society, would the shoes do? (Asking as if to come in)
Don’t worry, I’m not here to ask you for any money. I’m here just to speak to you.
As you know, some middle-aged people in the Indian society, infamously, do not take care of their parents, considering as a burden to them and often send them to old-age homes; some even leave their parents on the road to suffer.
Do you know what do these parents do?
These parents pick up bricks at the construction sites, work as labourers or some even work as garbage collectors. So, what we bunch of kids thought, what if we do something for these old people who have been left homeless?
Aunty, you and me, we are lucky enough to get a meal twice a day, wouldn’t you want to help these old people?
(Rest of the time, these people – who lie and call themselves volunteers - cajole these old people, in this case Bhosale aunty and uncle, in order to get money from their pocket)
Read this, they said:
Uncle, you are 75? Well, you look as if you’re 60.
Aunty, uncle has such a jolly nature.
(After they think it’s too much of cajoling done, they start getting to the point)
Aunty, you said right, that you would like to do something for these old people, so how much would you like to donate by cheque?
If you can, I would say please donate 60,000 to support six grannies. For one granny, you can write a cheque of Rs. 6,000. Which bank account do you have?
Don’t worry we accept cheques from SBI also. (Now, when he says this, Bhosale aunty now realizes that these people, who had said are not coming in for any money are actually there to accept money by cheque!)
Then, this guy, who is speaking shows his Helpage India (HAI) card and says that he is working for Helpage India, which he is…so, true. He then, takes the amount, laughs and walks out with his team.
Helpage India…Ghanta! I say, Rape-aged India. These bunch of youngsters cajole, convince and emotionally blackmail old lower-middle-class people, who are in need of money themselves, into giving out decent amount of money for charity. Yes, most of the money goes to HAI but not all. A percentage of that money goes to the companies that these youngsters work for. And, they are not volunteers; they are on a pay roll.
Well, the reason why I know this is because I was there with these guys - claiming themselves to be volunteers – incidentally, having absolutely no idea what it really was.
I went for this job interview in Mumbai, for a company that offered a job as a management trainee and claimed itself to be UK-Based MNC and the world’s leading marketing company. The advertisement on the internet said that the company wanted cricket minded people – how crap!
(This was the advertisement)
Well, when I finally reached their office in Andheri (East), I was told that to test my “valour” and skill, I would have to go through a personalized round which would also show me 5% of the company business.
So, I said to myself, wow! This really should be like eating a piece of a cake for me, as I have done DSN and a couple upgrades at YES!+.
I along, with another person (Karanjeet), who was also applying for the job, were sent with a trainer and a girl to Goregaon (West) for carry out a “task”.
Task - bull shit, it was loot!
On the way to the residential complex, he made us clear with the fact that the only thing that they were interested in was profit, and it didn’t matter what a person did to make those desired profit. The way the company earned profit was by doing door to door marketing for HAI and receiving a percentage of the donations that they have helped HAI acquire.
Thus, the only way the company - the trainer and the girl were working for – could earn profits were if people donated money to HAI.
Listening to this, I said, what shit! Because, the people would donate for charity and nothing should go to the companies; it should go directly into helping people. But thinking of it from a business point of view, I thought, “Fair enough”.
We were taken to a residential complex. Well, it was basically a building wherein, lower-middle-class people lived - most of who were retired personnel from banks, railways and other government services. Thus, the houses that these people lived in were provided to them by the government.
For me personally, it was like “not happening” because I quickly realized that the people who these “so-called volunteers” were to target, were not the richest and had financial problems themselves.
The first house that we went to was of a lady called Mrs. Singh. She was alone at home and gleefully invited us in. She was a lady from Uttar Pradesh, who had migrated to Mumbai along with her husband. The management trainer asked her if her husband was present at their home then. She instantaneously said `no’ and guess what, he refused to talk to her; later telling me that, as they only care about profit, they don’t even talk to people who are unemployed, uneducated or not having a chequebook. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I thought, “Decent business frame of mind” and on the other, I thought, “Why do people not do YES!+?”.
The trainer would tell people that we all “volunteer” for HAI, whereas, he – the trainer - was not volunteering but doing his job and was on a pay roll.
Soon, we went to a house of an old retired 70+ personnel, called Richard. He lived with his wife and with a smile, he delightfully welcomed us in. As he opened the door, I saw that he was dressed in a banyan and trousers. Looking at the walls of his house, it seemed as though the walls hadn’t been painted since an age. Thus, it was easy enough to believe that the man wasn’t the strongest economically. Richard, as he spoke to us, it was clear that he was a man of high virtues. He also claimed that he had done a lot of charity in the past. He shared with us his story of him needing financial help, listening to which, I felt sad for him, in fact, really sad. Even though the management trainer tried his best to get the money off Richard’s pocket, Richard’s financial condition didn’t permit him to take part in charity. I strongly felt that these guys representing HAI should have taken a measure to aid his cause.
Walking up the stairs, we went to a man’s house, a man who had recently been operated for a kidney disease and was almost bed ridden. Firstly, lower-middle-class family, then, someone who has had a major surgery, as a result – almost bed ridden; even joker from Batman would have enough decency to walk out and not ask for donation. But the trainer didn’t. As his convincing power and ability to cajole was immense, he did enough to convince the man and his wife to donate money. Asking for a minimum of Rs. 6,000, he came down to Rs. 1,000 seeing how adamant the was on giving donation. To me, now it was clear that to them, self-respect, decency and moral values held no fort. Sad.
Later, I told the trainer, “Uncle, nice guy.” He said, “What nice, he took so much of our time.” I was stunned. It was clear that these people had no feelings, emotions or respect for old people.
We walked down and went to this lady’s house. She was a very old lady, probably 70 odd years of age. The trainer knew that he had to get money this time and so, he did. He put in everything that he ever had in retrieving the donation. More than anything, his way of talking, convincing and cajoling, irritated me minute by minute but I kept quiet. Soon, the lady started to share her side of story, which eventually lead to her crying in front of us. I felt sad, I mean how you cannot feel sad when people are crying and telling you about something bad that has happened to them in the past. It was disturbing to hear the lady’s story of how she worked for 40 years and was made a fool, time and time again, thereby, losing an awful amount of money.
The trainer started to emotionally blackmail the lady literally forced her to shell out Rs. 6,000 as donation.
But that was still fine, now is the most shocking part. Guess what, when she went in her room to get her cheque book, the trainer started to make jokes and laugh saying “Time-pass Time-pass”. Can you believe it, I couldn’t.
I mean, the lady has recently cried in front of you about something that was personal to her; if you are a human, firstly, you are bound to have enough decency at least not make jokes about it, especially, in her own house. Secondly, have feelings and emotions to feel pain. I absolutely hated that. I still don’t know if these guys are human or not, or whether they have a heart or not. Whatever it is…I had absolutely had enough.
They moment we left the lady’s house. I looked straight into the eyes of the trainer and said, “You know (name), I can’t do this.” The lady needed our help and help of HAI and all these people did was to loot her by convincing her.
Rejecting the company, I was really proud of myself and I respect my decision because cajoling people is not my cup of tea. When a person donates, let her do it because she wants to, not because you want to earn profit from their donation. Sad, really the case.
And look, I know it is great to do charity and be involved in charity in any sort but three things must be kept in mind:
1) Do not cajole people.
2) Do not lie that you are volunteering when you are under salary from a company.
3) Even if you want to target and cajole people, never fool and convince those, who are financially not the strongest.
I respect Helpage India and I, myself have donated long back for HAI but seeing the situation, HAI needs to look at the companies and the people who are marketing for them.
When I am blogging about this, it’s not to share my experience but to spread awareness that there are people, who don’t care who you are or what you do; for them, it’s just about selling their product.
Also, as mentioned above, the way these companies earn money is wrong and must be stopped. We donate to help people, not because a part of the money that we give in on the name of donation goes to these companies. I hope HAI people also read this post and take measure.