Want to volunteer? What books to read on International Day of Charity

Want to volunteer? What books to read on International Day of Charity

by Suswati Basu
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The calendar event that tugs at heartstrings, the International Day of Charity, graces us each year on September 5th, which is a great time to look at books on being generous. This poignant occasion finds its origins in a United Nations proclamation, a bid to amplify awareness and galvanise global benevolence. However, it isn’t without controversy. While many laud the efforts of humanitarian Mother Teresa, as the day marks the date of her passing, she has been accused of offering substandard medical care; of proselytising to her patients; as well as of claiming virtue in suffering rather than trying to alleviate it.

Who was Mother Teresa?

Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa, was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, once part of the Ottoman Empire and now nestled within North Macedonia's embrace. The Roman Catholic nun and missionary was known for her selfless dedication to serving the poor, sick, and marginalised. With the founding of the Missionaries of Charity, her religious order bore the mantle of providing solace and sustenance to those yearning for succour, particularly in the most testing corners of the globe.

Throughout her life, Mother Teresa became a symbol of compassion and humanitarianism. The international stage cast its gaze upon her endeavours in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, where she and her others tended to the sick, homeless, and destitute. Her efforts extended beyond India to other countries, as her organisation expanded its reach to provide aid and assistance to those suffering from poverty, disease, and social neglect.

Mother Teresa's work earned her numerous awards and honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She was admired for her unwavering commitment to alleviating the suffering of the less fortunate, regardless of their background or beliefs. However, Mother Teresa's legacy has been mixed. While she was she was canonised as a saint by the Catholic Church in 2016, critics have said the quality of medical attention they offered, suspicions of coerced deathbed baptisms, and alleged associations with colonialism, racism, and dubious public figures have marred her previous standing.
International Day of Charity marks the passing of Mother Teresa as we look at books that mark the event
Mother Teresa, 1985. Credit: Manfredo Ferrari.

Why is International Charity Day important?

Besides this glaring omission, this annual observance unfurls with the aim: to rouse individuals, collectives, and entire communities into a symphony of generosity and munificence. Its essence lies in cultivating a fertile ground for acts both humble and grand, ranging from the upliftment of the marginalised to the bolstering of healthcare, education, and sundry societal pursuits.

On this day, people across the charitable sector seek to kindle the spirit of giving in diverse quarters. An urgent call to strengthen noble endeavours, it resonates with those ready to invest time, resources, or a touch of kindness in their communities.

As the International Day of Charity still takes its rightful place on the global calendar, it beckons us all to heed its message. Hence it hopes to stitch a narrative of compassion and unity, embracing our shared humanity in a world ripe for transformation through boundless acts of goodwill.

Consequently, the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015, recognises that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. As a result, The 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the agenda can be grouped into six critical areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. 

Best books to read on International Day of Charity:

Here are some awesome books to help get you started on the International Day of Charity.

  • 📚 Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference by William MacAskill. Drawing on rigorous analysis and real-world examples, MacAskill provides a compelling guide to making a meaningful difference through evidence-based, strategic giving.
  • 📚 Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. Through vivid storytelling, the book takes readers on a profound exploration of Farmer’s relentless pursuit of justice, healthcare, and social change, encapsulating the profound impact of one person’s determination to heal the world.
  • 📚 Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad by Claire Bennett, Joseph Collins, Zahara Heckscher, Daniela Papi-Thornton. The authors offer valuable insights, fostering a deeper understanding of responsible volunteering that empowers both the volunteer and the communities they aim to assist.
  • 📚 Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World by Anu Taranath. Through introspective storytelling and reflective exploration, the book encourages readers to engage with the world in a mindful and ethical manner, unpacking issues of privilege, inequality, and cultural sensitivity while embracing the potential for meaningful connections across boundaries.
  • 📚 Ours to Explore: Privilege, Power, and the Paradox of Voluntourism by Pippa Biddle. With a critical lens, the book unveils the hidden dynamics of voluntourism and prompts readers to confront uncomfortable truths about the impact of their actions.
Read: What books to read on World Humanitarian Day

Remember to check out the interview with New York Times journalist and 1,001 Voices on Climate Change author Devi Lockwood on being informed.

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This article contains affiliate links via Bookshop.org in which we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, in order to support local bookshops. We have not been commissioned to review books and services.


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