Joy of Giving
Later that day Shelly told me that her organization was about to run out of the test-kits needed to diagnose. She explained that if someone tests HIV-positive, an immediate referral to the hospital brings the patient access to life-prolonging medication (ARVs). The medication slows or even stops the progression of HIV, and prevents the transmission of the virus from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. I asked if the test-kits were for sale. Shelly replied that $100 would buy enough kits to last until the next government-supplied kits would arrive. Of course I immediately gave her the $100.
Although the quantity of the tests made possible through my modest gift was interesting, the real reason to wholeheartedly give that money, the best $100 I have ever spent, was Shelley’s approach. That and her passion to really care for people and her conviction that things will indeed get better for her community if she has anything to do with it. And she does.
I am unsure how Shelly’s drive and empathy would ever be captured in a statistic, or how you would quantify the tremendous joy I still feel ten months after making this gift. Philanthropy helps us understand our purpose. It feeds our insatiable hunger for hope. And although I would never argue against the importance of measuring efficiency and reach, I suggest we keep in sight the humanity and joy that we find in giving. Sure it is hard to measure, but it is even harder to ignore.