“When bestselling French author Dominique Lapierre visited India to work on a new book, he wanted to travel in style. So he purchased a silver-and-black Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, and had the luxury car shipped to him in Mumbai. He crisscrossed the Indian subcontinent in the vehicle while researching and writing Freedom at Midnight.
The book’s success earned Lapierre a sizeable royalty check, and he decided to give part of the money to an Indian charity out of gratitude. Not knowing where to make the donation, he decided to visit Mother Teresa in Calcutta, assuming she would know how to put the money to good use. She introduced him to James Stevens, an Englishman caring for children in the city’s slums who suffer from leprosy.
At the time, Stevens was running out of cash. He had nearly exhausted his personal savings in his efforts to educate the leprous children and to cure as many of them as possible. Amazed by Stevens’ compassion, and the hope he had restored to so many kids, Lapierre vowed to provide ongoing financing of his humanitarian work. To this end, the author began giving away 50% of his book royalties. To date, the Resurrection Home, the shelter funded by Lapierre, has cured more than 9,000 children infected with leprosy.
Lapierre began his journey to India with a desire to enjoy the heights of luxury. He left having gained a passion to rescue children from the misery of leprosy. His change of attitude is summed up in the words of an Indian poem now printed on the back of his business cards: “All that is not given is lost.”
Lapierre decided to be a river and not a reservoir. He stopped pooling up his wealth, spending it on himself, and instead donated it to benefit children in need. Moreover, he physically put himself in the middle of suffering. When living prosperously, we tend to distance ourselves from misery. We move to affluent neighborhoods, play at pristine parks, dine at the fine restaurants, and shop at elegant boutiques. If we aren’t careful, we lose touch with the reality of neediness that so many people around us experience on a day-to-day basis. Giving money is great, but serving others in-person reminds us of why generosity is so very important.”