“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” ― Walter Cronkite
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank,
When Sapna, a tailor who earns a living by stitching blouses, and falls to the sarees, visited our local Sai Baba Temple, the poojari noticed her moist eyes framed by a tensed face.
The woman was a regular visitor at the temple. Always armed with a broad smile that spoke of its genuineness, and unadulterated greetings, she came to the temple with humble offerings; wild pink daisies, handful of chanaa wrapped in a small piece of newspaper, and a rupee or two. Touching the feet of the poojari for his blessings before leaving was mandatory to her. This routine was accompanied by a exuberance that mirrored a happy and a content soul.
That day the smile, the contentment were taken over by sadness, anxiety and a fear of something terrible. The lackadaisical change in her otherwise perky nature alarmed him.
He wanted to ask her....he had to ask her. He was certain something was gravely wrong with her or her family. Once she was done with her pooja she came to him, took his blessings, and turned to leave, he stopped her to ask, she looked at him. He could see in her eyes that she knew why he stopped her. Words weren't needed, yet he asked, hoping...praying, she would tell him and not hide from him whatever it was.
"What's wrong?" In a very meek voice, barely audible, she told him about her plight. Her husband was jobless since three months. Initially she was sure things would fall into place eventually, but, now she had no hope. She was the sole earner of the household of six members now and her income was no longer enough. Their little savings had petered out as well. What she earned would not cover their, food, her sick mother-in-law's treatment and children's education together all at a time any longer. One of these needed to be sacrificed till her husband got employed again...and children's education seemed as the obvious choice for the family. Her children went to a private English medium school, a dream, a wish she once had for herself. "They would have to shift to municipality school", she sobbed with every word. Her body was shaking as tears rolled down her cheeks. Wiping away those tears she said a rather composed 'namastey' and left. The poojari couldn't wait for the other shoe to drop and made a few calls to the temple trustees and other people involved in the temple administration. That evening when they met, the agenda was crystal clear; Sapna's children's education must not suffer. In the next thirty minutes the solution to the problem was in front of them. They would raise a fund to cover the cost of the books, stationery, school uniforms, fees and at all for the entire year. It was March and they had three months before the next academic year starts. Driven by determination of achieving their goal one of them grabbed the black board which is used for notifying pooja timings, announcement of yagnas or other functions at the temple. Written in bold letters and large neat fonts with white chalk, the message was crisp and clear- 'Three children need money for continuing their education...Even a rupee from you would make a difference...Help educate them!!' The board was placed on the foot of the steps of the temple, where it grabbed attention of even those who had no intention of stopping by. In addition to that, from that day, every morning and evening the aarti was followed by an announcement on mike addressing people squarely on the fund raising topic. In just three weeks they lucked out; a good amount of money was raised for the siblings's education. Looking at the amount that kept pouring in it was decided they would continue and widen the fund raising to extricate other children who were in need.
May 2015, was when I saw the board for the first time. I did my bit and with June last week the board had some bhandara announcement written on it. The fund raising was closed, and would reopen again in April 2016, I was told. Though people were welcome to donate anytime if they wish to, my informer added. This bunch of people put a smile and contentment in the lives of Sapna and her children and many others like them by willingness. Willingness to serve humanity in ways they could afford to. These people for me are among the nonpareil of kindness and selflessness. Largely inspired and motivated by them many people have come together this year to make the fund raising more successful to help change lives of many more children. They taught me, empathy, willingness and an initiative, however small or big, can change the world.
With lots of inspiration and hope to see positive changes around me I've begun my new year with a smile full of life which one can again see on Sapna's happy and content face.
This post is inspired by http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/ for #SpreadTheVibe at Indiblogger.