Maa Tujhe Salaam

Maa Tujhe Salaam.

“…. When someone gives Vinayak a toffee, or any kind of gift, he will always say, – Please give me two more!, or, … next time please get me three because I have two brothers!”

Vinayak Burla.

I met Vinayak in 2014 and this is what I wrote about him when we gave him a wheelchair in 2014:

Vinayak lives at Prabhadevi; he was named after God Sidhivinayak, being born premature he had a poor chance at survival, (cerebral palsy) so they named him Vinayak, as they wanted their premature born to be safe in Ganesh’s care.

I asked Vinayak’s mother, Lavania, to tell me something’s about her son, things that are challenging for him, what makes him sad, happy, joyful….

She responded to me nearly in one breath! She was so eager to speak about her son; Lavania ji said to me, (she was smiling nearly all the while when she spoke, a very positive woman), – “Vinayak likes to play with his elder brother and his younger cousin brother. He can see them walk, run, do things he cannot do. That is when he, and even I, feel some level of sadness and even frustration, about his inability to be able to do what fully-functional kids do at his age, so he cannot be a part of their physical activities how much ever he wants to.

At this age he does not realize why he cannot do things that his own brother and cousin can so easily. So sometimes he cries, and I feel it too… So I tell him every day to get up and at least try and walk, does not matter if he falls one day he will be able to run, I tell him. But that is only if he will try. I tell him that every day.”
(This is when Lavania got emotional. Soon, I had to hold back my own.)

“One of my happiest and proudest moments was when he received an award for being a good student at school (ADAPT), and he received a trophy in sports. Even he is so proud of it that sometimes he tells his elder brother – ‘You are bigger than me, stronger than me, but look do you have any awards and trophies like I have, and you can even walk and run. Even Mummy and daddy, even you both do not have trophies like I have.”

Freedom to travel the world on his legs, without a wheelchair is what we wish on Vinayak. May the donation of this wheelchair become redundant as soon as possible!

I also realized in hindsight, why Mother and son were stuck together like araldite/fevicol sticks things. = Here was a mother who was confident one day her fragile bird is going to get up and walk and then fly!, he will leave her and his wheelchair (his nest for now) far far behind!

Thank you to my sister, Suman Datt, (and Vinay Datt) for donating a wheelchair to Vinayak. Suman Datt Vinay Datt Nidhi Datt Sood Aditya Datt

2014
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Last week, Aug 2020, Ms Amena Latif (his school principal) contacted us and asked if we can buy a Walker for Vinayak. He does not need a wheelchair anymore. His parent’s hard work to make him walk has worked.
Mukul Madhav Foundation, Pune purcahsed a Walker for him and a wheelchair for Swapnil, another student from his

school.

Photos:
1) Vinayak with his mother on her lap, when we gave him a wheelchair in 2014. It was given to him my sister Suman Datt and Vinay Datt
2) Vinayak (blue shirt) with his parents this morning with his brand new walker. He does not need a wheelchair anymore, the physiotherapy has worked. Ek Maa ki aasha puri ho gayi. MAA TUJHE SALAAM The walker is given to him by Mukul Madhav Foundation.

3) Swapnil Kuralskar with his father on his brand new wheelchair; given to him by @MukulMadhaFoundation Rita Hinduja-Chhabria

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236 – Wheelchair for CP child Vidya

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Vidya.
You gave her new wheels and this smile. You lifted her, from near the floor, so she can be nearer to the sky above her head.

Thank you very much
@priyankaschaturvedi @sushrut2812 @cookingdiariesbypoo @bhaveshdhruva Dr Raju Shah Swaminathan Amit Nanavati

Adivasi Anganwadi school, Gujarat.

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Adivasi childrens school, Gujarat, Dahod area. Timarda gaam, Tinda, Anganwadi’s and primary school

These two teachers are Mr. Jaipal and Mr. Prakash, they say that the kids parents go to work in the morning the kids have to finish the house hold work and come to school so they are very irregular so the teacher’s go and bring them to school, the government gives them afternoon lunch and they have specially arranged flavoured milk for the kids. But books pencils and other stationary items are not available. These two teachers, Jaipal and Prakash, get things for these children very often from their own salary.

Thank you very much dear Shashi Chhabria for sending them their stationery needs. Thank you Durdana Halim Moeena Halim for reaching out to them through your own initiative.

#BicycleAngels 🚴😇
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235 – Dosti

Dosti – this post, in particular, is for those few people who believe India has become Intolerant:

Ashok a driver, perhaps in his 40s, happened to meet me a few weeks ago. He said to me “….. my best friend, a vehicle driver, has suffered a paralytic attack and has lost the ability to move the left side of his body. He has no job since then and has not left his home since a year. He lives with his mother at Khar Danda. I cannot see him like that and so I take him out for sun and air on holidays and sometimes when Im back early from work. I cannot see him go to waste. He seems depressed too so i take him out in an Autorickshaw often at night after my dinner.

However, its very difficult for us as he limps on one leg and can use only his right leg and arm for movement. Can you buy a Tricycle for him? He is living off his savings which have stopped growing since a year so can you buy one for him? It will make him independent too, he won’t need me to go out.”

I asked Ashok what is the name of his best friend, for whom he has not hesitated to ask for help, for whom he is concerned that he get out of his house daily without seeking assistance of his well wishers, for whose mental health he is concerned, for whom he feels pity for becoming jobless and physically challenged overnite due to severe diabetes….?

Ashok replied, “Mukhtar Khan”

Thank you Kumar Jaisingh for buying this Tricycle for Mukhtar Khan.
This will make a good Happy Eid -e – Milad on Sunday (Prophet Muhammad Bday Nov 10th) for Mukhtar Khan.

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So what if I can’t ‘see’, I want to study more … “Zindagi, aa raha hoon main!”

 

The hunger to educate oneself –
Visually impaired (Blind) Vyankatesh Parab.

This is the first time perhaps that I am sharing a video of a visually impaired person who we assisted, in our tiny ways, in education.

My cyclist friend, Siddharth Vora, wanted to ‘celebrate’ his mother’s birthday, happy birthday Mrs Vora, however, by not having a ‘party’ – but, by helping someone somewhere in some way.

This is the worthy-person he assisted, in education, as a fine tribute to his mother, the force in the Vora family.

In his words, on my request Parab sent me this video so that I can share his ambition with you all.

Vyankatesh completed his graduation from RUIA college in year 2016, then his post graduation in History from Mumbai University; currently he is preparing for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination from Deepastambha Foundation, Pune, and needed assistance to buy the books for the course.

He told me “I want a loan to buy the books and I will pay back when I get a job. Siddharth told him he can pass on the books to another needy person and he does not have to return the money spent on buying the books. That is another reason we were too glad to assit him.

Thank you Siddharth.

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The ability to say “No. I deserve better.”

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“What you see is quite up to you.”
 
Meet Ms Gita. (45) – Visually impaired (Blind)
 
Gita, is visually impaired (yet not ‘Blind’, because she can ‘see’ a better future for herself) At 45, she has decided to do her college graduation. Everything she has done until now, with the best of intentions, using her mind and heart, has left her an undergraduate.
 
In the formative years of her life she was partially sighted. She had to stop her education when she passed out from higher secondary because her father, the only earning member of their family, was unwell and she had to accompany him to his place of work as he needed an attendant and the family needed him to keep his job. To help her family meet ends, she gave tuition to children from the 5th to 9th class.
 
Gita has a brother, he is married and lives at Mira Road. He never visits her. Her parents have expired and she lives by herself at her own house in Colaba. She cooks her own meals.
We asked her, “Don’t you feel scared, living all by yourself?” She replied, with a slight smile, “…what is there to be scared of? (she cannot see anything, not even the darkness) I have nothing to fear.”
Gita has had a job in the past, but being an undergraduate there is no scope of having a chance at earning a better salary or livelihood. So, at 45, she decided to do her college education, which she had to forgo (after passing out from the 12th standard from Ruia College) because she had to look after an ailing mother and father for over two decades. She is living of their family’s past savings, and lacked the resources to pay for her FYBA course.
 
The fees for the FYBA course being offered by Mumbai University is Rs 3500. Ankita, Akshita and Mayura wanted to pay her fees; they did.
 
Gita will graduate in 2022, and I know that we will find not just more people, to pay her fees for her SYBA and TYBA, but I am confident my friend in Pune, a fine NGO, Mukul Madhav Foundation, can help her find a suitable job.
 
I found Gita a more deserving person to assist for her graduation than myself. I had/have all the world’s resources yet I did not complete my Engineering course, nor did I complete by college graduation after I dropped out midway. Of course, I took up a job soon after I dropped out midway of my ‘graduation’. So, I was not a ‘wastrel’ (for too long. 😊 )
 
When Ankita and I met her, she was accompanied by one of her ex-students, who was all praise for her ‘Gita Mam.’. That felt so good, to hear her being appreciated by her ex-student.
 
Let us share with you, yet another worth of this fine student and woman : Gita was lately offered a job that was paying Rs 4000 a month. Considering she is ‘blind’, that is what the best the company was willing to offer her. She refused their offer.
Gita says, “They asked me ‘… but, how can you refuse our offer? You should be HAPPY that someone is offering to pay you 4000.’
 
She told them, ‘4000 is not enough for me to meet my needs. I need a salary of at least Rs 6000 a month.’ I know I deserve better. But no one will pay me more than that, since I am an under graduate. If I educate myself, become a graduate, I will be paid better and I will even have more options to choose from.”
 
Gita negotiates her way in our sighted world with a cane, yet she walks MORE firmly than I ever did with my sight and two legs. Because she is able to see a better future for herself than I do sometimes when I am ‘low’. What you see is quite up to you.
 
The result of her decision and future efforts is not going to be in her hands alone. It was not even in the past. Today she finds herself jobless and alone, in spite of the right decisions she made for herself and her parents. However, like the Bhagavad Gita, and some other scriptures, Gita points us to many paths: the path to doing duty towards our parents, (she could not find a ‘life-partner’ because she has spent many of her years looking after ailing parents), taking up a part time job to support self and parents, having the confidence to say NO and having the hope and determination to educate herself more for better job and pay opportunities, living ‘alone’ without fear of the known and unknown.
 
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶 #BicycleAngels
 
Thank you Ankita Shah Mayura Jain Akshita Jain
 

MONEY HAS NO VALUE?

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MONEY HAS NO VALUE?

Often, my family and my friends complain, and sometimes rightly so, …. “Yaar, money has no value anymore, really. We went to see this ‘shit’ film, at a multiplex, the tickets we can understand are more expensive on weekends, but the movie was garbage, moreover, the super large popcorn and coke at interval, and the nachos before the film began, we end up spending 5000 nearly on some weekends watching really bad work put out by some filmmakers! We spend nothing less than 5000 as a family, sometimes our children’s pal tags along so naturally we pay for him/her too…; man, I tell you na, money has no value anymore!”

However, meet Kavita (partially visually impaired) and Jignesh (visually impaired).

Kavita and Jignesh. Both Mumbai residents, both have lost their fatherswho were the sole earning members, both are dependent on an extended family member today.

I met Kavita when a friend of mine, Archana Bhatnagar assisted her by paying the fees for her Massage Therapy course at Mumbai. I asked Kavita, “… you are young, perhaps, 17-19, what is your education background, and, what are your reasons to learn Massage Therapy course (professional training to become a certified Masseur) at a young age…” (Btw, some of my friends who have taken massages at centres in Bandra that employ the ‘blind’ as masseurs, say they are amongst the best massages they have received, because the blind have a great sense of touch and excel at this profession. We are glad such an opportunity today exists for them.)

Kavita replied, “… I have lost my father, my mother is dependent on me and my maternal uncle and we live off our family savings. They are getting depleted and we do not want to be a ‘burden’ on my uncle, though he looks after our needs. My mother is not educated and takes care of our home. So I must begin work. I am HSC pass, with good scores, but I have not continued towards a college graduation because I have to earn a livelihood for my family, my mother and myself, right away. I do not want to ask my uncle for college fees. Once I make some money, I can take admission in college and work simultaneously.”

I asked Kavita, “what does the FYBA fees amount to?
She replied, Rs 3675”
I asked, One full year?
She said, Yes.

I instantly thought, that’s half of what my family and friends spend on some weekends, and it was quarter of the amount I spent last on my birthday, and it amounts to – an entire year’s fee at Bombay University!!! A prestigious institution! OMG!!! WOW!!! Man, I tell you, MONEY HAS VALUE FOR MILLIONS I tell you!

Thank you dear Dipti & Rishi for paying Kavita’s FYBA fees. I have committed to pay her SYBA and TYBA fees too, I know I will have some friends lined up to do that over the next two years. 😊

Jignesh.

Strangely, Jignesh had a similar predicament. He dropped the thought of taking admissions at a Mumbai college because his uncle could not gather Rs 6000 for the first-year junior college fees. Yes, an entire year’s fees! – Rs 6000! At a good college at Dadar west. Man, look how much value Rs 6000 has!!! Thank you dear Picto Writ for paying Jignesh’s college fees.
Jignesh paid the fees a week after admissions had shut for the year, because a very kind professor of that college wanted to ensure Jignesh does not miss a year, his reason …‘Jignesh was a good student.’ Last year, Jignesh won the award for the best player in their annual cricket match for the visually impaired. Yes, there is a ‘special; form of cricket for the ‘blind’.

Hmmmm, next time we feel our ‘wealth’ and resources have no value, perhaps, and I wish I am wrong about this, we are probably not ‘in touch’ with sentiments that must be the part of the lives of at least 50 % of our population, if not the widely accepted 80 % figure.

#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶 #BicycleAngels
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(Photo thanks to https://www.theiab.org/education-higher-secndary-school.html)

231 – Not too much, not too less; The rain.

231.

These most lovely most deserving children just received their much needed stationery and school bags today. Donated by my friend Maya, USA.

Maya had their bags printed with an educational message – HARD WORK + FOCUS + INSPIRATION + KINDNESS = SUCCESS

They are mostly children belonging to daily wages workers who work in the fields. Their parents, receive assured minimum wages from the government 100 days a year, and for wages on the remaining 265 days – they have to pray it rains not less, nor too much. Rain, Too less or Too much, sets them back by years; another thing, malnutrition is another challenge many of these children face through their formative years.

A sick child, and or a poor one, is very hard to bring up.

This donation was made for these students at the Government higher primary school, Yattinahalli, district-Gadag, Karnataka.

Thank you very much Maya and Mukul Madhav Foundation (and journo Deepika Burli) for making this stationery and bags donation possible.

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230 – Krishna, Kavita and Karan. (Visually impaired, learning Massage Therapy)

1) Krishna’s parents are farmers, in Maharashtra, he is a MA in Political Science.
Krishna needed funds, not just to pay fees for the Competitive Exams course, (Rs 3500), but also to reside in Mumbai until he lands a job, so he decided to learn Massage Therapy, a professional course offered to the visually impaired at a prestigious school in Mumbai for the blind.
 
Krishna became visually impaired at the age of five, due to an illness. He clearly remembers only his ‘Mummy aur papa ka face” he says, from when he was five, and before he lost his sight.
 
If he gets his eyes back right now, magically or by medical science, he wants to first see his parents and see for himself what it takes to work in the fields and how they earn a livelihood, because that’s how they have been able to raise him and his sibling.
 
Second, Krishna wants to see all the people who have helped him ‘see’ things, helped him educate himself and wants to ask them why they helped him without being related to him, paid for his education and showed him what humanity really means; their (strangers) contribution to his life has impressed him greatly, and now whenever he reads of or hears the word ‘humanity’, he thinks of them but would like to see for himself someday how such kind people look.
 
I wish I could make him see you all, even those who read this post and empathise sincerely with anyone who is not as privileged as us. He will realise, that we look no different than him.
 
Thank you Archana Bhatnagar for assisting Krishna.
 
2) Kavita lives in Maharashtra, her father has expired, her mother and she are living on their savings. Her younger sister has a job in a good corporate and was looking after their family’s expenses, until she lately got married and had to move away. Post her marriage she is not able to provide completely for her mother and partially blind elder sister Kavita.
Kavita has completed her HSC and wanted to learn Massage Therapy, a professional course being offered by a reputed institution for the blind in Mumbai. Archana, our donor pal, was willing to pay for her Massage Therapy course.
 
This donation for Kavita’s course fees is on behalf of Archana’s mother who is quite unwell but she was keen to assist a less privileged in her mother’s name. We wish Archana’s mother a speedy recovery from her illness. In spite of being in poor health and at an advanced age her mother is thinking of others who are in need of assistance.
 
Kavita is ambitious to take up a job of book keeping accounts, but for that she needs to join a college and study for three years. Kavita dropped out of college as she is shy to ask her sister for college fees. We promised to pay her college fees (Mumbai University) for all three years of graduation, and for that our donor pal Picto Writ stepped forward to pay Kavita’s FYBCom fees. Thank you Archana and Picto Writ.
 
3) Karan, the third student we assisted in paying for his Massage therapy course, thanks Archana, I could not speak with. However, the institution told me he is a most deserving candidate and I left it at that. It’s sometimes best to trust those who are in sincere service of the less privileged.
 
Their photos I changed to B&W, because, I feel that’s how they may be imagining our world of color.
 
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶 #BicycleAngels

229 – Their fathers committed suicide. You don’t. (That’s their message on this 50 Kms annual pilgrimage.)

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Yummy carbohydrate power packed Arabian dates (for slow release of energy) for children belonging to farmer families whose parent have committed suicide.

These children are on their annual Pandharpur Wari (for Lord Vithoba) a pilgrimage yatra of 21 days and arrived in Pune today. They will resume their walkathon of about 50 Kms journey tomorrow. (The route of this annual pilgrimage is Dehu to Pandharpur, 235 Kms walk for adults)

Thank you Panalal Mohanlal Shah, #MukulMadhavFoundation and #BicycleAngels for making this possible.

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