You Are At Your Most Vulnerable When Helping Someone

Theft of my laptop taught me a valuable lesson – you are at your most vulnerable when you are helping someone. You are simply never more prone to exploit by dishonest people than when you are helping them. Out of your sincere will to help, you go all out to make the world a better place and when you do it, when you offer your unconditional help, you do it believing that receiving party will appreciate your efforts and will be grateful for what you have done for them. And most people would. When you are stranded and can’t get yourself to a destination with your own devices, you will rely upon unconditional help of a random stranger and if such random stranger does offer their help – they will have taken a big weight off your shoulders. If I were in such position, I would make damn sure the person who helped me along knows that I am endlessly grateful for what they’ve done for me.

Trouble is – when you are helping someone, the last thing you expect is for them to take advantage of you and rob you while you are doing your good deed. Whether gratification is expressed or not, it is experienced. At least you who are the one helping subconsciously believe that because you are providing that other person with something they can’t provide themselves with, that they would be sincerely grateful. You know you would be grateful and you just wouldn’t fathom the possibility of them stealing from you (as happened to me) or worse.

Last thing you anticipate when you are helping someone is that they will take advantage of the situation for their own, selfish enrichment at your expense. Thieves have no class nowadays. They’ll stop at nothing and will intentionally put themselves in the situation of being in need of help and if someone who has the means to help stops and offers it, they will abuse it because they know that the helping one is at their most vulnerable, not even in their wildest dream anticipating it from a person they are helping.

It’s truly sad that this is really happening in the world today. When you would least expect it, when you should be receiving endless gratitudes, some people won’t hesitate to steal from you. This makes further helping much trickier. I’ve seen this happening to volunteers in South East Asia. Same thing – they flew across the big pond to help underprivileged people. Those people, people who were receiving financial support as well as support in form of work and shared know how did not hesitate to steal from those helping while they were around improving their lives. It does get worse though as I have also known a girl who was raped while volunteering by the very people she was helping.

Just as was with me, also this girl would never have prepared herself for the fact that an attack against her could be orchestrated by the very people she was helping. She was not ready for it, because you expect people to be grateful for putting your own life and interests aside to help them along. And they abused it.

You naturally tend to be suspicious with people you don’t know or have nothing to do with. If they are around you, you will be looking after yourself and your stuff eagerly because that’s a natural response to such situation. However when you are in a position of helping someone, natural response is to expect gratitude. You don’t actually anticipate them to start singing praises in your name, but you naturally expect them to feel thankful and will be glad they got help. Because of that you are likely to drop your guards. You believe those you are helping will react to help offered the same way you would – by showing appreciation to the person and their belonging and guarding them with your life. And that’s why you are at your most vulnerable when you are helping someone. It’s a lesson I took for my own too late and paid for it immensely.

There are more dishonest people out there than I would like to admit. They make helping others difficult but for as long as the society around them remains poor, they know that others will be willing to help and that means continuous supply of potentially easy victims who do not yet realize that they are at their most vulnerable when they are helping. The results are devastated lives and loss of faith in humanity. It truly is hard to get over it when someone you were helping takes such savage advantage of you while you are expecting their gratitude. This kind of limits your future options and you’ll think twice before you help someone again. In my case – I know I will not let that stop me; however I will limit this type of unconditional help in less civilized societies. I won’t hesitate giving a lift to hitchhikers in Europe, but will pass right by them in Central America or South East Asia.

Making Merchandise Donations to Charities

I was only a week away from my departure to Siem Reap, but still had a lot of possessions I didn’t get rid of during my mass disposal. Everything I didn’t touch within last two years went to the garbage bin, along with everything I saw no immediate need for. However I still had a bunch of items I thought were very usable and could improve someone’s quality of life. I was out of time and wouldn’t be able to take care of it myself, so I started contacting one Edmonton based charity to see whether any accepted Merchandise Donations.

As it turned out, making monetary donations to charities is easy and vast majority of charities will have some mechanism in place to make it fast and convenient, however when it came to merchandise donations, things were vastly different. Most responses I got said that they did not have the manpower and/or the facilities to store merchandise donations and wouldn’t be able to accept them. However with each such response, I was provided more contacts on additional local charitable organizations which the person responding believed may be accepting merchandise donations. So I kept relentlessly sending emails or making phone calls until I got the first positive response stating that a person could come to my place with a van tonight to pick up just about everything from the list as it seemed I had a whole pile of usable items.

This was exactly the type of response I wanted to hear. A person who knows what they are doing and is able and willing to take immediate action. I formerly thought I would split the donations among several charities so people from various walks of life could benefit, but as I thought about it further, I came to realize that this type of thinking made no sense. All I wanted at this time was to make sure that my donations will make someone’s day. If just one person could feel like it’s their lucky day today because they got a pile of stuff from me, then it would be all worth it.

I had an estimated $8,000 worth of merchandise to give away. It included the following:

  • Kitchen Ware – utensils, pots, frying pans, toasters, knives, etc.
  • Books – all sorts from expensive photography tutorials, through dictionaries, all the way to fantasy tales
  • Toys for Kids – I used to use those as photography props in the studio
  • Electronics – TV sets, DVD players, stereos, etc.
  • Leisure Items – skates, roller blades, backpacks, etc.
  • Home Decor – curtains, lamps, chairs, bedding sheets, etc.
  • Clothing – all sort of summer and winter clothing for all occasions
  • Household Items – various pieces from toilet paper through screwdrivers to power drill sets, etc.
  • …and a whole pile more

I realized that when you are donating, all you care about is to make sure that someone in need benefits. That’s why trying to split the donations would be contra-productive. How would I decide which items go where? It simply made no sense as a person here as well as a person there could benefit from it just the same. Great thing about charities is that there is no rivalry. There is no competition. There is only sincere desire to help those in need. At the end of the day, if person’s life is improved thanks to my donations, then it all made sense and was worth, regardless of where this person is form or how they got to the situation that they are in need of donations. Hence any attempt to try to find “the right charity” is contra-productive. There are only two types of charities – ones that truly give to those in need, or the corrupt ones that keep donations for themselves and only use people in need as store front to trick potential donors into donating for them believing the donation will go to those in need.

After I got an email back from Todd from One Child’s Village, I knew he was the right person to give all of my merchandise to. Their website speaks heaps about the work they do and I’ve been hinted by other charities that were no able to accept merchandise donations that One Child’s Village was a good charity to look into. On top of that – I like dealing with people who know what they want and are able to make decisions. Todd responded to my email promptly and got right to the point. He said: “It looks like your whole lot is full of useful items. I could take all of it. When is the best time for me to come with the van?”

How can you not love dealing with someone who doesn’t beat around the bush. There was no time to bounce emails back and forth. I needed to make this merchandise donation as soon as possible as I only had a few extra days left for everything else. Todd was at my place right after I got back from work and we loaded his van up full. This whole deal got taken care of within one day and without much hassle. But most of all – I knew my merchandise donations were in good hands.

One Child’s Village operates in Africa and these items would make their way to impoverished people in need and as I have said – if any of it could make the life of any person in need better, or even the day, then it was all worth it. For me personally – I no longer had any use for any of this. I was gonna leave the life dedicated to work and accumulation of possessions for the life of travel and volunteerism to find my place on Earth and do something I’d be proud to talk about when I get old.

After I have finalized my merchandise donation to the One Child’s Village charity, I was left with near empty apartment. Just the way I wanted it to be. With only a few days left until my departure, I only had a few things to take care of and one more big merchandise donation – my car.