Monday, February 25, 2013

Birthdays, everybody has one!

It Takes a Village has touched the heart of another generous contributor, and her name is Mala.

I happened upon Mala's fundraiser on Indiegogo quite by accident. There I was googling my own project and here was this other fundraiser for It takes a Village, complete with photos of Djati and the whole nine. You can imagine my surprise as I stopped to read her story. I can tell you, I was so excited that it brought tears to my eyes. Here was this woman that I didn't even know giving up her birthday to raise money so that the people of Djati, Guinea Bissau W Africa could finally have a medical clinic!!

As I experience more birthdays, I’m learning to be less of a judge and more of a light. The last tattoo I got says, “Let Your Light Kindle My Light.” We’re all dependent on each other in more ways than we know and in more places than we can physically reach.

This year I’m donating my birthday to an important project I’ve been following that’s going on right now in Guinea Bissau, West Africa. It’s spearheaded by Raj Raju, Hasan Salaam, Devon Austin and the It Takes A Village collective. Building awareness is great. Building physical structures that progress the lives of men, women and children clear across the world – well, that just borders on miraculous. This group of simple people, along with their supporters, have already built a school and a fresh water well for the people of Djati, Guinea Bissau.

Mala's fundraiser has concluded and we have received her donation, which will be on its way to Guinea Bissau within the next few days.

I contacted Mala and asked her if she would share her story.
Here’s more from Mala, in her own words.

My birthday campaign goal was $1,000 and with the help of family and friends - $1,012 was raised for the people of Djati, Guinea Bissau. Needless to say - I’m grateful and satisfied. The question that kept coming up when  I told people this is what I was doing for my birthday was, “You have so much going on, why are you burdening yourself with this task for people you don’t even know?” It’s a valid question. And I couldn’t fully answer it. All I could come up with was, ‘I thought about doing it and I can’t turn back on that thought.”

Then I read a blog post by Dr. Vijay Kanagala, who is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Research and Policy in Education at The University of Texas. He gives his cultural reasoning behind questions of this nature. He says, “I would like to introduce you to the twin concepts of “Runam Therchukovdam” and “Runa Padadham.” These are belief systems in the Telugu culture that demonstrate and explain the interconnectedness of our lives. Runam loosely translates to debt,  while Therchukovdam signifies paying off or clearing off; Padadham could mean to incur. This alternate belief system replaces the paradigm of good and bad with a spiritual paradigm of debt -debt to one another as humans. In essence, one pays off her or his debts or alternatively one incurs debts. In a spiritual/cosmic sense, my satellite office project beneficiaries had helped me in the past (life), and I was, in fact, just repaying my debt back. In a way, rather than viewing it as paying it forward, my culture considers it paying it back(ward).”

It’s a perspective I dig because I was born Hindu and the concept of a past life as it correlates to Hindu Dharma (ethos) makes it familiar for me in a practical way. Tulsidas is the author of many holy books in Hinduism. He defined the source of Dharma to be compassion. Compassion is a skill.  Just like anything else, the more you practice it – the better you’ll undoubtedly become at it. I appreciate theological answers to these kinds of questions because it forces us to reconsider the texts we thought we knew so well.
The very last contribution I got was from my three children. They all have 3 piggy banks each: savings, charity and toys. They took all the money from their charity piggy banks and gave it to me for “the medical clinic for the kids.” That was THE best gift I could have received for my birthday. Humanity starts at home. I don’t mean that I teach them. It’s the exact opposite. It’s because of them that I do anything right.

Mala's 3 beautiful children who donated funds from their piggy banks to help the kids in Djjati
For me, supporting this kind of compassionate work via the It Takes A Village collective, means that I have a stake in the future history of the world.  I didn’t throw a party (as much as I would have liked to) in order to raise these funds. That thing called Life didn’t allow me to allocate the time for it. So, I used social media and my website - Mala's Mirror to push some awareness. The effort was unspectacular yet people responded and they helped. They helped people they will probably never meet in this lifetime. Yes, it was prompted because of my birthday wish but it was fulfilled due to the compassionate nature of these donors. So, I want to publicly thank them all for taking their hard earned money and investing it into the world. The ROI (return on investment) from this capital will multiply tenfold, for generations.

This type of work goes beyond charity. It’s how we get closer to our best self. It’s how we can teach our children to get a head start on becoming their best by showing them that injustices exist – but so do people like these donors from New York and all the other people from across the world who have helped the people in Guinea-Bissau.

The power of human relationship has the capacity to kick apathy’s ass. And thank God for that.

Good work 
Thank you to Mala, kids and friends and family

Want to perfect your skill of Compassion? Think about donating a birthday, holiday or other special date to help the people of Djati, Guinea Bissau and then Share your story.
Help Build a Medical Clinic in Djati


Unknown said...

Thank you Mala, kids and friends and family. Your kind actions are special.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful role model she is for her children.