There is a growing body of research indicating that those in the lower rungs of the economic ladder are more likely to notice, engage and empathise with other human beings than people of wealth.
Nothing brings this facet into greater focus than a natural disaster, where the poor and infirm are affected the most.
When 42-year-old George Kanappilly, a daily wage labourer, the father of two children and a heart patient, decided to refuse emergency aid from the Kerala government even though he was eligible, it was out of empathy for others who he felt were in a worse situation.
In these times, following the devastating floods, which wrecked vast swathes of the states, it’s not uncommon for many people to lay claim on any monetary assistance from the government even if they aren’t eligible. Some are honest with their claims, while many aren’t.
Despite his frail body, George isn’t one of those. Even though water had entered his house in the 14th ward of the Pallipuram panchayat causing minor damages, he refused to accept the government’s aid which amounted to Rs 10,000, reported the Times of India. Instead, he pasted a notice outside the door of his house explicitly stating that he would refuse any money.
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“My family shifted to my wife’s house, and we placed all the things in the house on an elevated place before entered the rooms. Thereafter, I stayed six days in the relief camp set up at Rama Varma Union High School in Vypeen. One should not accept things for free.
As I don’t have money to support displaced people financially. I urged the authorities to give the money to others who are in need,” George told the Times of India.
Suffering from a heart ailment (he has a hole in his heart) and a dodgy spinal cord which does not allow him to do any heavy lifting, Kerala resident George has had to postpone surgeries because of his financial status. Nonetheless, this does not stop him from helping others.
“Financial issues forced me to postpone the surgery. I will help people physically as long as my health allows,” he told the publication.
Unfortunately, his act of compassion and empathy has irritated some of his neighbours. They argued that his refusal to accept aid has denied them their eligibility for it. Well, he doesn’t get to decide who is eligible or not—it’s up to government authorities.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
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