When I was 12, my mother and I lived in second-floor a studio apartment right at the edge of Harare’s City Center (Downtown, to my American friends.) Because of its location, we would see all sorts of folks from around Harare and out of town going into and out of the city.Mother and Son; CLUBHOUSE’s formative moments!One day I was downstairs, basking in the sun with a friend, when a family of six or seven- the parents and five girls- walked by. Their dress suggested they were attending some church event in the city, and their demeanor said they had been walking for hours. They were sweaty, dry-lipped, and their pristine white garments were tinged with the brown of many a dirt path traveled. As they walked by, the father said to me “Good afternoon young man. Is there any way we can get some water?” I ran upstairs to where mother was busy with her weekend cleaning and said, “Mom, there is a man downstairs asking for some water.” Being busy, and taking the statement at face value, she filled a glass up and sent me back on my way. I, in my childish naivety, questioned it no further and took the glass downstairs.I watched that family of seven painstakingly share one glass of water, passing it from the youngest daughter to the father. I was about to offer to run back and get some more, but they had to get going, so they thanked me ever so graciously and went on their way.It wasn’t until dinner that evening that I narrated the incident to my mother. She sat there half-bewildered and half-guilty (the latter unwarranted, as her understanding had been consistent with how I described the situation.) She asked, “Why didn’t you tell me there were seven people there? We could have sent them off with a gallon of water at least!”Of course, at that age, I had thought little of it all: the journey the folks had traveled; the heartbreaking humility of a father having to ask strangers for water; the privileged position we stood in at that moment of having water unlimited; the quiet acceptance and gratitude of the family as they went on their way. The incident, however, has stuck with me over the years and has shaped my views on philanthropy profoundlyWhat did I learn?1) When someone asks you for help, chances are it has taken every ounce of humility in them to do that. Listen intently, and get to understand exactly what their plight is.2) If you know of/ see a need; it is your mandate to address it. You cannot expect another (my mother in this instance) to fully appreciate the extent of need if they have not seen it like you have. Hence, make sure you either deal with it yourself or make sure that you go over and above to make sure that those who can potentially help have understood fully what the need is, why it  matters, and what they can do to help.3) Recognize your privilege: In that moment, we had water galore and it would have cost us virtually nothing to share it with this family that was in dire need. Typically, that is how much the world ever asks of us: to give of our bounty to those who have not. As sure as the sun rises in the east, we are bound to find ourselves in the reverse position at some point in our lives; how would we want that to go?

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