When Andrea Lee and I visited an amazing school for the children of sex workers in Delhi in Feb 2014, we were blown over by the level of JOY in the school and the level of commitment that the teachers showed.
We asked them what was on their wish list and the founder said a refrigerator.
We made that happen. Here are some great photos of that fridge and the smiles that it brought.
It made me extremely happy when I saw the blog by Melinda Gates saying that such appliances can significantly change lives.
Here, at ILF, we strive every day to positively change lives and end gender violence.
Too often I think we miss the acts of kindness that happen in our daily lives.
I stopped to take an inventory of how many occurrences of warm-heartedness I received yesterday. I could think of at least 15 times when someone said, did, offered, their kindness and fellowship to me. Wow. I can’t help but wonder if during the times that I feel sorry for myself, alone, worthless, that I am missing these simple caring gestures. We live in a world that is based on “what’s in it for me” and if we stop and think about it…..A LOT!
If we take an inventory of everything we will see that we receive so much in life. But often times we are unaware or too busy and we ignore or dismiss the great things that happen to us every single day.
She wouldn’t accept my offer of a bracelet.
She wouldn’t let me make a crown for her.
She refused to come closer.
She was one of the 200 or so students in one of the orphanages that my clown group visited.
There I was sitting on a step, making crowns from pipe cleaners. The kids were lined up for their crowns….girls, boys, small, big, some young and some older.
I am not sure when she decided to come closer, but there she was and ready for a crown.
I crafted her crown carefully and with an extra dose of gratitude for trusting that I would not harm her.
When the pipe cleaners were finished, I started making beaded bracelets for everyone. I made hers first and she carefully selected her beads from the small baggies that sat precipitously on my lap. As the kids realized that something new was being given, they quickly swarmed and began demanding their bracelet. She became my helper and as kids requested the color of beads, “rojo, verde, azul, blanco”. She quietly and efficiently fished the correct bead from the baggie and gave it to me to thread on the multi-colored string.
I hugged her and said, “Adios” and thanked her for her help. She smiled and her eyes twinkled.
The magic of this connection was that she did not know if she cared to connect or even if she trusted me. I did not base my success that morning on whether or not she would accept my gifts. I was there, loving and giving without thought as to what her role should or ought to be.
Should she be grateful that I had come all the way from America to visit that orphanage?
Should she care that I had spent money on these pipe cleaners and the baggie of beads?
Her only job was to be herself.
My job was to be loving and present and joyful.
We both did our jobs well.
Now if only I can remember to practice this giving of myself in a pure and unattached way. A way that says, I am here for you, if you’d like to come closer.
A way that allows me to KNOW that chasing you or begging you or demanding of you to be a certain way is just unacceptable.
A way that tells me you are responsible for whom and what you accept from me.
A way that shows me to stay true to me and allow you to stay true to you and hope that in our separate trueness we can still share love, peace and harmony.
Thanks Olga, for these big lessons.
I will hold your smile in my heart forever.
May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be free.
My daughter and I were just about to embark on a shopping adventure. She was excited to find what she wanted and I was elated to spend time with her. Almost 6 hours with her…my best gift of 2012.
We pulled up to a stop sign and I caught a glimpse of the pan handler out of the corner of my eye. I nodded to her and she approached our car. She came to the passenger side and I motioned for my daughter to give her something.
When we passed her the money she reached her hand into the car for the comfort of the human touch. I reached over and we connected.
She smiled and we blessed each other.
As I drove away, I realized how far I had come. There was a time when I would not have even looked at the pan handler.
Back then, I looked but in judgment.
Back then, I looked and gave a little change.
And then, I began to work with the homeless and saw them as people like me and began to soften to their plight.
Now, I can roll down the window and reach back to grasp an outstretched hand.
We are all good people, and we can learn to be better citizens.
One of my favorite quotes is,
“There is too much good in the worst of us and too much bad in the best of us that it does not behoove any of us to judge the rest of us.”
I cannot remember where I heard it but it is a great anthem by which to love and live.
Happy 2013 and my wish for you is that you suspend judgment and just try to be a better citizen.
Recently, I was walking in Nice, France, the acclaimed French Riviera. It was all I imagined…the fantasy of open air markets with fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables and artists on the sidewalks painting. This beautiful place was once home of the famous artist, Henry Matisse. Shops and galleries lined the streets…the surrounding architecture a remembrance of eras gone by. Tourist were snapping photos, locals were buying their baguettes…the scene was so easy to be swept up in. As I walked the cobblestone sidewalks, some homeless people sat on the curb dressed in drab colors that blended into the tones of the walkway barely noticeable against the colors of the city around them.
In negotiating the crowds of people, the sights and sounds it is easy for a passer-by to overlook, or avoid the destitute people looking forlorn. Suddenly I noticed a little boy on the sidewalk and next to him a young girl which I had to stop and look twice to determine if this girl was his mother or his sister. They had a dirty paper cup in front of them. These urchins were not begging outwardly. I was following a friend through the streets and he did not see them. I walked past the children but I had to stop. I shouted to my friend to wait for me. I slipped my hand into my purse and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. I walked back, knelt down and handed it to the eldest child. I held her hands as I gave her the money, I stroked her hair to let her know someone cared and to give her a sign that there was compassion in the world for her. She muttered to me in French. As I touched her, I felt so connected with this person as our two different worlds collided. I vividly remember the softness and warmth of her small hands and the fineness of her hair. I wanted to kiss her forehead. All of this occurred in mere moments.
I continued to where I was going and wondered how so many people could not see these children who were aged not by years but by experience.
I ask you, what does it take to get you to stop and reach out to someone? Now I am not talking about walking around handing out money to every impoverished person. Every day there are people in our lives that need a sign of compassion and caring. A smile is free to give and can make all the difference in someone’s day.
Take a look at the stop signs you are missing…they are signals where you can take that moment to make a difference in someone’s day, even their life. And you will see…it will make a difference in yours as well.
Donate to Indrani’s Light Foundation
Your donation will be used towards eradicating gender violence, training community leaders and sharing behaviour-change tools with people who are ready to leave violence behind and create a brighter, more peaceful world.