These days many of us are all about getting the latest and greatest games, the biggest toys and the newest and coolest designer clothes. However, countering the growing societal trend of consumerism and materialism, there is a growing trend of giving back.
There are many organizations that focus on giving back, but there is one that I find particularly interesting, the Power of Ten Sen.
The Power of Ten Sen started in Malaysia to empower youth to give back. It shows youth and communities that anything is possible when you “dream big and start small.” It’s heartwarming to see youth being introduced to the idea of loving those around them and taking ownership and investing in the future of the world. It reminds me of my nephews and nieces.
My oldest nephew just turned 6 in July. Although he only started first grade this fall, he has an incredible desire to give back and a passion to help others. I remember for his fourth birthday party, my sister wrote on the invitations, “Instead of a gift, please bring along some gently used books to donate to a Dream Catcher library in Masayoshi’s name.”
At first I was perplexed and a little frustrated. I found myself thinking, “How silly to tell people to not bring gifts.” I continued to ponder and got more aggravated. I thought, “He is only four. He should be getting gifts and just enjoy being a kid. Why are you trying to push your own agenda on him? At his birthday of all things?!”
The day of the birthday party rolled around. I put my feelings aside and simply enjoyed the blessing time with friends and family. When gift opening time came around, I would never have expected what happened next.
He receive some cool gifts, but Masayoshi was excited about the books he was going to give to other kids. Masa loves to read and the idea of sharing this joy with kids who didn’t have books like he did, made him smile from ear to ear. In his words, “I’m so happy my eyes are shining.”
That moment reminded me of the beauty and joy of giving. My four year old nephew (at the time) showed me that it’s not all about what we get but what we can give. Gifts are nice, but the feeling of happiness and fulfillment we get from loving others is the greatest gift of all.
Masa’s birthday showed me that it is our responsibility to serve and love not only those around us, but to pass this culture of service and giving to the next generation. The joy that I see him experience from giving to others never ceases to amaze me. He dressed up like a chicken at the Global Peace Youth Festival and collected donations for solar lamps. He also does chores in exchange for money to buy solar powered lamps for the All-Lights Village Project.
While he may only be six, his ability to love others inspires me. And while he doesn’t know it, Masa showed me on his fourth birthday, like the Power of Ten Sen teaches, we must “Dream Big and Start Small.” He showed me, that you are never too small to make a difference. He also reminded me how blessed our family is and we must now share our blessings with the rest of our human family.
Written by Milei Ikeno