Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Divali for the Soul

This post highlighted by Global Voices - The world is talking, are you listening?



As Divali , our Festival of Lights, gets under way, the media is full of news about either the Adarsh building scam(where powerful types, and those related to them awarded themselves apartment(s) by creative interpretation, planned ignorance of rules, and stupid bravado), corruption detected in one more big case somewhere, and of course Obama's impending trip this weekend , for which it looks like 10% of the US Government is moving here with their paraphernalia, while residents of areas where he will visit , like the Mahatma Gandhi museum, have been asked, for security reasons, to keep their windows closed when he visits.

Away from all this hype, however, there are several folks who exist, seemingly to ensure, that they bring a daily "Divali" into some one's life. They never get publicized or appear on breaking or non breaking news, but their story needs to be told, to get the citizenry to believe, that Divali is much more than stuffing yourself with sweets, buying a bigger flat television, or a new cell phone that talks and tells you that it is time to recharge.

We've been going to this orphanage each Divali. For many many years. As our thanksgiving gesture and to play with and distribute Divali sweets to the children. Right from when they were an organization that started out of a 3 bedroom apartment taken on rent, which they were later on able to buy with the help of some generous donors. They had some really dedicated staff then almost 20 years ago, and barring those who time has claimed, almost all are there today.

Unlike the impression one gets from reading newspapers, there are strict rules about running orphanages, enjoying government aid and grants , submitting so many different types of reports, financial and otherwise , and subjecting themselves to inspections from the authorities. Those who have nothing to hide, comply with all this, and do well. Those that don't, are the ones that appear in newspapers, and then face the law.

When it looked like the original place was going to be too small, the authorities of the orphanage decided to raise funds for a building and approached everyone , including the government for help. Several donors , numerous ordinary middle class folks , some socially conscious industries, some from overseas, Indians , who dedicatedly gave of themselves on a yearly basis, helped in a major way. Several years of fundraising later, they now have a building to call their own, the entrance to which takes you, ironically, through the compound of a local police constabulary/office and a municipal hospital for women and children.

They now house children of various ages, right from newborns in cradles, to girls approaching teenage who have no one to call their own.

When we reached their office, there was s flurry of activity, with lots of office staff (all women) getting the Annual report ready for dispatch, alphabetically. The report is a legal requirement and it is a wonderful read , besides the mandatory accounting things, about the adoption activities, the sucesses of some kids, the problems of the organization we can help with, and so on. There were some enthusiastic young girls helping them with putting pre-printed address labels and plastic covers. Turns out they were young orphan girls who lived there and went to school. After a while they rushed away with some other girls, apparently because it was lunchtime.

Various activities in progress as went went around meeting, playing with and distributing sweets to the children. There were absolute newborns in cradles, fast asleep, oblivious to anything including Divali. Another room had the very young kids, some crawlers, and some who could walk; boys as well as girls. We took the permission of the lady there to distribute sweets. She smiled and said each one could have one, and holding out a full box was not a good idea at that moment, as lunch time was imminent. We agreed to abide by that.

My daughter who loves doing this went in their midst and was mobbed. She shared the sweets with them, and then handed the box to the lady saying she would be distributing later after lunch. The slightly older kids were playing in another room also enjoyed the sweets . Banging plastic cricket bats against crackling balls. A little girl kept running after a ball after a hero hit a "boundary" wall, but the batsmen himself reached before her, picked up the ball and gave her a look. They then got my daughter involved and she bowled a few balls to the future cricketers of India. Year after year the thing that stays in my mind has been the cheerfulness of these kids, every single time.

Their own kitchen serves wholesome homestyle food to all the children. The very little ones are fed , and those who can eat on their own, sit along with the others, automatically picking up stuff like finishing everything on the plate, taking their empty plate to the big sink, and piling it neatly there. They have older volunteer folks who come in on a regular basis to tell stories to groups of children. Sometimes wellwishers organize picnics for the kids, with a bus, and games and eats. Many local industries donate useful consumer products they make. And the kids get excellent medical care from the many doctors who offer their services .

We soon had to leave, because there were lots of visitors that day. So many people coming by with new clothes, provisions, toys, eats, books and what have you for the kids. And cheques. So many folks who celebrated Divali by giving, their own Joy-of-Giving week.....

Intelligent future planning in the design of premises has enabled the organization, to start physiotherapy at reasonable fees for those children in need. (see the video on their web page.) Special educators, speech and occupational therapists come every day. There is a counselling section for parents of such children, and a support group of sorts. They have a computer training section where useful basic computer skills and software are taught to young women at a nominal cost, to enable them to take up freelance work and or jobs. You can have a look at all their activities here under the Projects drop down menu..

Confidence in organization building has enabled this organization to also start an Old Age home in Navi Mumbai, along with a home for destitute young women, or women from families with domestic and monetary problems. The women are trained in different courses and skills, so that they have an incentive to work as adults. They have some wonderful schemes where you can help, and bring a wondrous change in a young woman's future.

I often feel we do not highlight such good work enough. The press highlights only the "takers" in society, and very rarely, the quiet "givers".


I thought this Divali was a good time to do this.

So we can believe that good also exists.


And hopefully realize that life isn't all about corrupt politicians and money and land grabbers. And buying the latest HDTV/cellphone/washing machine paying full price, while planning on giving donations in installments.

Its about bringing rays of light into some lives. Not just at festival time, but every day.....

Happy Divali .....



Submitted for the Blogadda Diwali Moments contest

Go to www.myntra.com and check out Myntra Diwali Offer. Shop for Rs 500
and get Rs 500 off on your travel with Cleartrip! Also visit the
largest community of Indian Bloggers
at BlogAdda.com

29 comments:

  1. That was so wonderful to read! 'I often feel we do not highlight such good work enough. The press highlights only the "takers" in society, and very rarely, the quiet "givers". ' Yes, we rarely ever talk of the givers in society.

    I visited one such orphanage and Old age home, run very professionally, when I was in India this time. I was impressed by the same thing 0 the cheerfulness of the children and the elders there.

    And the fact that there are several places like this where people work with integrity and dedication, with no pomp and show, just indicates that we as a society ignore the quite 'givers' of society, while the takers always get the limelight.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely ! The press doesnt have much of words for 'givers' and giving ! For it doesnt make much of a sensational news ! For whatever reason !

    Giving is so much of a delight ! You have a unique way of giving. Not only through such acts but also through others, of connecting with people, writing poems, just staying connected beyond...! These are giving in the truest form !

    Its a delight to be connected !

    Best wishes on Diwali !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Totally true Suranga. The media only focuses on what's wrong, and the ones doing it right, making a difference are never highlighted or talked about. Great post, very apt, and muc-needed to break one more stereotype, that of orphanage workers as only greedy money-grubbing types who neglect the children. Some of them are as wonderful as the one you've described.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lovely post, Suranga! You're captured the 'spirit of giving' wonderfully!

    So true that those who work quietly for the good of society rarely get publicity.

    Happy Diwali to you and your family- may you have a joyous year ahead!

    ReplyDelete
  5. A welcome change from the negativity that we are fed on day after day by new channels and newspapers. The joy of giving indeed! It has to be experienced and as you say it is those with limited resources that give willingly. Very good post indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happy Divali to you and yours, Suranga. The spirit of giving benefits the giver as much as the recipient. You have brightened my day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The orphanage sounds wonderful and a lovely place to go at Divali.
    I think that giving is the best thing we have to offer to anyone- be it materialistic or the most precious thing we have -time .

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lovely post... Its so true.... Its extremely important that the good work gets highlighted...

    ReplyDelete
  9. There is an article in the Lounge section of The Mint. It says, when you donate, do not do it annonymously. Your action can motivate others to do the same. Great work.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy Diwali. Michelle literally danced her way into many tots' souls. Obama for one seems to have lost his sting after his recent loss. But he will come back, I am sure.
    As for giving, nothing like it. I just give - whatever form depending on what I perceive one wants to receive.

    ReplyDelete
  11. what a beautiful post left me feeling so nice and happy

    happy diwali to u and ur family gappa

    ReplyDelete
  12. How I have missed your writing and you.

    "So we can believe that good also exists." Well you certainly made me believe. That was a wonderful post and clearly this orphanage is doing great things for the children and the local community. Very inspiring. We should spread more positive messages shouldnt we? Hope you and your family are well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Love you Suranga for this Heartwarming post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I do beleive that giving anonymously is good but I beleive strongly also to not be anonymous, cause as i read a comment above, it may inspire others .. I dont say go and shout from atop a building that you did this or that .. but yeah let people know .. sometimes others get an idea or just that little push they were waiting for to do something nice..

    I use to be so afraid of donating blood, the idea of the needle, then my friend told me that he gives regularlry i went with him once and then as they say i just went on my own every 4-5 months to donate on my own ...

    I hope you had a beautiful diwali , take care

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wordsndreamz,Kavi,Starry,Manju,HHG,Darlene,Barbara,Tanishka,Radha,NSIyer,Monu,Lilly,Varsha,Bikramjit

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments.....

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank your for sharing diwali soul on this blog and appreciate with your post.
    Buy Tops Online India

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work and for the inspiration. I'm a huge fan and this one is my favorite to date. Love it! Buy designer lehenga

    ReplyDelete
  18. A very beautiful thought and thanks for sharing this post which is inspiring a lot.But,I would like to suggest if you are searching a diwali gift for men than I think men accessorries is good idea and useful also and we can buy ties online also.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nice article you have wrote. Also checkout Diwali Dhamaka Sales for best products online

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a blog i had never ever found successful useful blog atleast about online shopping site. I would like to appreciate the effort you people are mail to full fill readers requirements. i would also like to share we at Whaaky(Dot)com also provide mind blowing leads for a variety of products with a great discounted prices. Visit us at Whaaky(dot)com and grab the opportunity to buying a variety of at cheap and discounted price.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Very happy to see your article, I very much to like and agree with your point of view. Thank you for sharing.Welcome to look at my website and blog articles.Hope we can become good friends, and exchange and to help each other! Thanks!! Partywear saree

    ReplyDelete
  23. Nice article but woman accessories contain lots of category so better online shopping India sarees dealtz is better option for gift for ladys.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am looking for italian shirts. I have found these two portal please let me which is good: http://italianshirt.co.uk/ or http://www.swaggermente.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  25. Designer Mens Fashion Clothing,Buy Wedding Suits,Mens Suits Manufacturers

    SWAGGERMENTE LTD - we have established ourselves among the foremost Manufacturer and exporter of Designer Mens Fashion Clothing,Buy Wedding Suits,Mens Suits.

    Buy Wedding Suits,Mens Suits,Designer Mens Fashion Clothing Supplier in UK,Buy Wedding Suits Manufacturers in UK,Mens Suits Supplier in London,Designer Mens Fashion Clothing Exporters in UK ,claudio lugli, claudio lugli shirt, claudio lugli sales.

    www.swaggermente.co.uk

    Online Italian Designer Suits and Shirts

    Looking for Best Italian Suits and Shirts then get stunning range from Italian shirts. Wide collection of Men and women accessories like shoes, handbags, watches, evening bags, wallets and small leather goods to other products.

    Mens Fashion ,Men trousers,Men suits,Men shirts,Mens Cheap Suits,Mens tailoring,
    Men Accessories ,Men suits online ,mens slim shirts, men formal shirts, men suits on sale ,Wedding Suits, slim suits,slim fit shirt,Slim Fit Suits,Suit online , Regular Fit Suits,Slaters suits,shirts italian style,shirts italian brands,

    http://italianshirt.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank for sharing a wonderful and useful information in getting traffic to the website.
    I also wonder why some of the blog sites doesn’t indicate the date. I think for me its much better if the blog or post has a date at the side of it so that I will know if the post was new or not. Nice post!

    http://www.thepriselive.co.in/

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great job for publishing such a beneficial article. Your blog information isn’t only useful but it is additionally creative with high content too. Now a days everyone looks for deal of the day items in online shopping.
    Thanks..

    ReplyDelete
  28. ordervenue is a online hub its offers the online shopping in your door.

    ReplyDelete