The embodiment of altruism is carried out by the men and women who represent Karuna. Each individual is committed to benevolence and the enduring desire to support communities in India, Nepal, and Tibet. All these individuals work towards the altruistic development of society, and these values nurture our connections.

Members of Karuna in France, Switzerland, India, and Nepal share their perspectives.

What is altruism?

Altruism is a selfless concern for the well-being of others and a willingness to take actions that benefit others. It involves acts of kindness, generosity, and empathy without expecting anything in return.

Humlal Adhikari, Program Coordinator in Nepal

According to Franck Blot, Director of Advocacy, altruism is a practice that requires regular effort to step out of one’s comfort zone, confront difficulties, take the time to listen, help others, or simply be present.

I love Matthieu Ricard’s proposition: to know if an act is altruistic, ask yourself, ‘Would I have the same happiness if someone else had performed this action in my place?’ If the answer is yes, then our intention is truly altruistic.

Franck Blot, Director of Advocacy in France

Altruistic behaviors are manifested through active listening, as expressed by Catherine Lalive, Director of Karuna-Shechen in Switzerland :

“Everyday altruism, for me, translates into attention and respect for others. It’s about being attentive, in a welcoming posture. Sensitivity to verbal and non-verbal messages, to the emotions conveyed, and responding as fairly as possible. It’s also about engaging in respectful and warm interactions with everyone, valuing the words and opinions of others, always with a profound sense of common humanity.

It’s this humanity that Karuna-Shechen’s staff observe both in their professional and personal journeys :

For me, altruism is a constant commitment and a genuine effort to bring about positive change in the lives of others. It’s more than an abstract concept ; it’s a guiding principle that influences every action I take.”

Anindita Kundu, Food Security Program Coordinator in India

Resonance of Our Actions

As Human Resources Assistant at Karuna in India, Nisha goes beyond administrative management. She strives to create a pleasant working environment for employees.

I consider myself someone who takes pleasure in performing acts of kindness, big or small, and I believe these actions contribute to creating a more compassionate world.

Nisha Chhettry, Human Resources Assistant in India

Within Karuna, this vision is embraced by all individuals and contributes, as Franck Blot attests, to the strength of our motivation : “We know that we are doing our best to have altruistic actions, and that motivates us. If I’m having a bad day and I see a colleague with a big smile, showing kindness to another person, it automatically brings me joy, warms my heart, and pulls me out of my current emotional state. I believe what motivates me the most is witnessing altruistic acts around me.

Humlal Adhikari adds : “At Karuna, we believe that people naturally want to help and care for others when they are going through tough times. This caring nature is something we all have, and leads to a deep sense of connection and empathy and the motivation to adopt altruistic behaviors.”

Karuna’s teams’ actions align with our ideal of altruism in action. Catherine Lalive recounts this aspect of Karuna’s work : 

“I had the opportunity to visit Bihar and Jharkhand in India with some team members. We met village women who benefited from the microenterprise support program. Thanks to this interest-free loan to start their own business, these women generate income for their households, gain respect from their husbands and communities, strengthen their self-confidence, collaborate with each other, and inspire younger women and girls. Karuna offers me the ability to be the conduit for the generosity of our friends and benefactors, to contribute to the empowerment of these women and enable them to be agents of change for themselves, their families, and their communities, and to participate in the spread of altruism.”

On a daily basis, Anindita Kundu offers several perspectives for those seeking to integrate altruistic values into their personal and professional lives. Cultivating empathy, practicing active listening, and nurturing an authentic desire for transformative change are considered essential. The cumulative effect of small acts of kindness has the potential to inspire a more compassionate and equitable society. She encourages others to start with the fundamental belief that each individual has the ability to contribute to the common good. “Through the practice of altruism, we can collectively contribute to building a better world.”

Contribute to the common good

Human Before Performance

Altruism is the foundation of our organization, it’s a shared vision that serves as a compass. It also nourishes our values and intervention models. We try to embody these values as best we can, … and that requires staying humble !

Catherine Lalive

Performance is not the primary indicator of Karuna’s success. As Franck Blot emphasizes: ” It’s not just about helping people and providing solutions (however significant they may be), it’s also about trying to embody these values in our way of being. To have the humility to recognize if something is not yet as we intended it to be and then to continue practicing. From this perspective, the finish line is never crossed and there will never be an ‘end’ to this self-work. This approach prevents pride and resting on what has already been accomplished, but without guilt, and instead there is a joyful and positive momentum that propels us forward.”

A ” genuine desire to help others “, motivates Nisha Chhettry : ” Whether offering a listening ear to a friend in need or holding the door for a stranger, I feel a deep sense of fulfillment in being of service to others. As an HR assistant at Karuna, I also dedicate myself to creating a supportive and positive environment for our employees. When addressing staff concerns, I try to approach the situation with empathy. I make sure to listen, understand, and seek solutions that are beneficial to them. I feel great satisfaction in offering my support.”

Anindita Kundu and the entire team believe in the collective empowerment of individuals and communities as they work towards a more promising future. ” Whether it involves establishing sustainable income sources for women in rural areas, expanding educational opportunities for disadvantaged children, or improving health services for those in desperate need, my commitment goes beyond providing material support. I remain deeply committed to the transformative power of altruism.”


Franck’s advice: One step at a time

Don’t put pressure on yourself: take care of yourself. Like the allegory about the oxygen mask on an airplane in trouble, by putting on your own mask first you can then help others with theirs. A compass that I find very useful is joy. If I become sad while helping others, there is probably an intention I need to clarify, perhaps a step to take aside for a little distance. Recharge and rest to reignite that flame we all have within us. And then, when the flame is there, let it shine and nourish our altruistic actions.”

Catherine’s advice: Authentic relationships

“Develop a personal mindfulness practice, take time to come back to oneself, cultivate compassion, and feel the connection. Gradually, we move towards the essential, seeking authentic relationships, and our perspective changes.”

Humlal’s advice: Cultivate altruism within oneself

“If you want to incorporate altruism into your personal and professional life, start with yourself. Once you have this quality within you, you can genuinely help others. Begin with good intentions in your heart before thinking about more significant actions. Focus on the feeling of empathy and help as personally as you can. There are many ways for individuals and organizations to show kindness, but it all starts with the intention to do so.

Engage yourself with Karuna’s team