Domestic help seeks alms to help the poor
Kolkata, 14 November
At a time when social service has turned into a business of sorts, a 98-year-old woman works as a domestic help and seeks alms to donate them all for the needy.
Gouribala Dasi earns a paltry amount of Rs 300 per month and receives Rs 1500 every three months from the government as widow allowance. Living in a small dingy room in Rabindra Sadan with no electricity and food, this woman has survived for years on food and clothes offered by her employer.
Every three months she gives away all her hard earned money to those poorer than her. A donation of this kind that comes in very rarely has become the livelihood for many in the NGOs she chooses to help.
Ms Dasi said: "I was born to endure the pain and sufferings of this life because of my bad karma in my earlier life and this is the repentance I have to live through. Helping those who are worse off helps me get the strength my body cannot provide anymore." Ramkrishna Mission and Bharat Sevasram Sangha are the two organisations she has been sending donations to through her trusted man, Mr Madhon Mohan Guin, who is working with the Census of India, Kolkata.
He said: "For a decade now every three months she calls me and gives me all her income to donate to the NGOs. I feel ashamed that despite being better off, I fail to do what she does."
Ms Dasi was married at the age of 11, only to become a widow within a few monthsand shares the credit for social work with her mother.
Her neighbours said she is often found lying almost unconscious in her dark room due to the burden of work at her age, but her commitment to social work has failed to deter her.
The porous roof of her room makes her life miserable when it rains. Failing to get any aid from her neighbours or government officials she had approached, Ms Dasi has chosen to work to achieve her mission to serve the world.
"My house rent 50 years back used to be just Rs 5 and now I have to pay Rs 640 per month. This is the only difference I saw in this world through decades. There is no major change in the insensitive attitude of the people around. Humanity has died out entirely and I am just trying to keep it alive," said the frail woman.