I’m not your typical do-gooder and I’ve always been taught to be wary of people I don’t know (aka strangers). “Don’t be tempted to eat the sweets of a man you don’t know” and certainly “don’t go anywhere with him” blablabla. You now the drill. Basically, the message is: not everyone has good intentions. However, when you travel by yourself, sometimes you have no other option but to trust a stranger to help you out, solely out of the pure kindness of their hearts.
Take Couchsurfing, for instance. You basically ignore all the rules you were told as a child and sleep at some random person’s house. What makes it slightly more comfortable, though, is the fact that you can read the person’s profile on the website and so create a certain idea of what that person is like. Nevertheless, you can never be 100% sure that that person is truly how they present themselves to be online.
I think it all comes down to trusting your gut when a stranger offers their help, in whatever form it may occur. When you do decide to trust them – knowing you will owe them one (or even better, knowing you will never be able to repay them (or at least not for a very long time)) – might seem a bit scary or uncomfortable (it sure was for me). It took me a long time and a lot of inner changes to not only trust and accept a kindness, but also to realize that it is just that – a kindness and not bribery or whatever – and to find a way to implement this way of life into my own. In general, I don’t trust people easily – at all – but I’ve had to in the past and it has been an eye-opener.
Have I radically changed my life? No, absolutely not. I am actually (still) quite a shy person (I know, it makes no sense that I’m a blogger now…), so I had to find a way to help strangers without putting myself to the fore. A friend of mine came with the perfect solution at the perfect time.
Kiva gives people in need of small loans what they need without them having to pay high interest rates. The ”help a stranger”-part is where you and I come in: if 100 people donate a small amount of $25, you get a total of $2,500, which might be just enough for Fatima in Iran to built a window for her shop, which will attract more customers. Do I know Fatima? Have I met Fatima? No and no. More of a stranger you’re not gonna find! It is up to you to find a cause that you think is worthy/risk-free (enough)/… of/for your donation. Parts of your donation will be repaid monthly and then you can start all over again when the full amount has been returned. Easy, right? And there are no risks at all for your safety!
Of course, there are other easy ways to start helping strangers that involve more human contact. Sometimes, I help an old lady to get safely off the bus. If somebody drops something, I pick it up for them. If somebody looks lost – I know exactly how that looks! – I ask them if they could use my help. Little things can go a long way. A simple act of kindness is where it all begins.
So here are 6 easy steps to ”Helping a Stranger”:
- experience kindness
- realize it, become conscious of the kindness
- want to help others as well
- adapt kindness to your personality
- implement it in your life
- experience the gratitude of a stranger
Want to become part of the Kiva-project as well? Here are 5 steps to donating to your first cause:
- upload money onto Kiva
- choose a stranger whose cause you believe in
- donate to that cause
- await repayment of your donation (and see how stranger achieves his/her goals thanks to you)
- donate again or take back your money
Have you ever helped a stranger? Have you ever done something for someone who will never be able to repay you or the other way around? Is helping a stranger on your bucketlist?