Monday, October 25, 2004

Project DYO

(MAD Club Individual Project III)

How many people have you helped in all your life? Make a guesstimate.

100? 200? 300?

Imagine being able to really help up to 400 people in one simple stroke!

The MAD Club launches Project DYO - Donate Your Organs.




Shocking, isn't it?






And that's it! So simple, isn't it?

“Don’t take your organs to heaven ... heaven knows we need them here.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

MAD Club Game # 1

This game is to be played whenever you are in a very bad mood.

Please note: It is ONLY to be played when you are in a REALLY TERRIBLE mood.

Some instances which would classify as calling for a REALLY TERRIBLE mood are:

So what is this game all about? It's a very educational game. Let's call it "Game 18".

"Game 18" is a 9-step game:

As you must've guessed by now, our Smiley Team is part of Team ASAD. If you want to join the Smiley Team or Team ASAD, email rasi_014@yahoo.com!

PS. We're in the process of setting up a MAD Club "Laugh Team" and developing a game similar to the one above, with "Smile" replaced by "Laugh". Some ideas for the "Laugh Game", initiated by Shaffy, are:

All these games will ensure, not just laughter all around, but instant popularity for you :)

Do try these out and let us know your findings!

And in the meantime ... keep smilin' !!! :-))))

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Project WWTO

(MAD Club Individual Project II)

(Project Coordinator: Jahnvi)

I'll let you in on a little secret of mine. One of my fondest dreams is to one day become a jolly, semi-senile, doddering old grandfather of 80, swamped by dozens of teensy little grandhildren clambering all over me, tugging at my snow-white beard and listening excitedly to my quaint old-fashioned anecdotes ... no wonder I'm in a hurry to grow old! :)

But there's a nagging fear behind these rosy dreams. What if ... and even the most optimistic among us may not easily be able to blindly refute this possibility for our own selves ... what if I end up in an Old Age Home?

Have you ever visited an old age home? Based on limited personal experience, they're of two kinds.

Type A is the Old Age Home for the rich. For a substantial annual fee, the inmates are given access to clean bedsheets and washrooms, laundry (they pay extra for this), warm food, a little garden where they can stretch their legs at fixed hours, a 24x7 nurse (usually an ayah) and a doctor who'll look in once a week and during emergencies.

Type B is the Old Age Home for the poor. The inmates (dare we use the word "victims"?) sleep on the cold damp floor irrespective of their rheumatic bones ("Well, at least we're saved from the rain, beta"). They use public toilets, share the responsibilities of cooking and sweeping between themselves, and wash their own clothes. And in most cases they're still required to pay for this existence. If they're lucky, a humanitarian doctor visits them in his or her spare time. If they're luckier, there'll be someone to weep for them when they die.

Irrespective of whether the Old Age Home is Type A or Type B, they suffer from two common diseases. The two diseases which are the "biggest businesses in the US after Christmas". Doctors may use different names for them; but two common words sum them up adequately.


And unwantedness.

Imagine a typical day in the life of Hari, a “fortunate” Type A inmate.

Hari opens his eyes reluctantly in the morning, not knowing who he's still living for, not knowing what the purpose of his existence is. The thought crosses his mind that, if only he had died in the night, at least his son would not have had to continue paying the exorbitant fees charged by the Home. Well, I guess I’ll remain a burden to my son for a day more, sighs Hari as he struggles up and sits vacantly in his bed throughout the day. He thinks a lot; that's his only occupation, after all. These days, he realizes he's thinking less than usual; his mind has been filled with unusually long durations of blankness. As Babu, the Warden of the Home, brings him his insipid tea and stale arrowroot biscuits which cause indigestion, Hari looks into his eyes and sees an indifference which is scary. Hari talks little to Mohanlal, his old room partner who suffers from piles and has a horrid cackling laugh. They have very little to talk about, after all. They've run through the same topics innumerable times ... about their youth, their wives, how sweet their kids were when they were young, how absolutely adorable their grandhildren, who live in Florida, are ... the conversation invariably breaks down at this time, and so do Hari and Mohanlal. Evening brings a flutter of excitement ... Arun, the South Indian gentleman in Room 11, has passed away. Heart attack. Arun didn’t have any family; he had never married. No one to weep for him. As if there’ll be anyone for me, thinks Hari sardonically. Good for Arun ... freedom to soar at last ... maybe, thinks Hari as he lies in his bed and looks at the stars, maybe tonight I'll get lucky ...

And what does next morning bring? No, not the same loneliness, but two young idealistic people. And ... wonder of wonders ... they want to take Hari and others to a House of God of their choice to worship !! Hari is ecstatic for a few hours … he gets an outing, he gets a rare chance to pray to God in a place of worship of his choice ... and he doesn't need to pay even a penny ... it momentarily feels almost like he’s got his lost children back for a day … and besides, for all you know, this may be Hari's last ever opportunity to visit a Holy Place ...

The very fact that someone, somewhere, cares enough for the unwanted to make that extra effort ... it is so rare, and makes such a difference to the Haris of the world !!

Taking inspiration from this noble venture, the MAD Club introduces it's second Individual Project -- Walk With The Old, or WWTO !!

The modus operandi of Project WWTO is simple:

And in case there isn't any Old Age Home you know, why not start Project WWTO at home? Do little things for your grandpa and granny which you know they'll like. Ask any old neighbours or acquaintainces if you can do something for them.

Do remember, we can never do enough for the elderly. After all, they are our grandparents, our parents. And one day, they will be Us.

Please email fd97075@yahoo.co.in with questions, ideas, and details of how you helped, so all of us can benefit from each other's accumulated experience.

Come participate in Project WWTO.

And let us Make A Difference.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Project ASAD

(MAD Club Independent Project I)

(Coordinator - Rasi)

Q. What is the opposite of SAD?

A. The opposite of SAD is ASAD.

Beg pardon? ASAD? What's ASAD?

ASAD, friends, stands for Anti-SAD. It is also the abbreviation of A Smile A Day. :-)))))))))

Laughter has been the best medicine over the ages. Did you know ...

Our face reflects our philosophy of life. So why sweat when we can laugh?

Hundreds of Laughter Groups exist today. Are you a member of any? If not, here's your chance to join an Online Laughter Group -- ASAD.

The genesis of ASAD happened here. To quote the author, who puts it beautifully, "I do know one small thing, and that is, one might not be able to change the whole world, but one can definitely change a precious moment in somebody' s life, anytime and anywhere. There is a free tool to do that, a tool which is, like us software people say, platform independent. The use of this tool doesn't depend on your education, caste, religion etc. It is free for all and effortless. This Tool is called SMILE ... "

The prerequisites for participation in Project ASAD are that you must be willing to try and do each of the following at least once every week:

For obtaining ideas and contributing suggestions on how to make others laugh, please email rasi_014@yahoo.com.

And let us Make A Difference.

MAD Club - The Charter

This is the official site of the Making A Difference Club, also known as the MAD Club. On this site, we plan to host:

  1. Details of projects which can Make A Difference
  2. Updates on these projects -- both in concept and in execution

About Us

Click here for details.

Categories of MAD Projects

MAD Club Projects can broadly be classified into two types:

Type A Projects (Group Projects or GP)

These are projects wherein MAD members and other interested junta may ideally need to work together for optimal results. Examples are PHP and TIBD.

These projects will usually have a "Project Coordinator" who:

  1. Would typically have initiated this project
  2. Is willing to coordinate all project related activities and provide direction for optimal success of the project
  3. Would be the single-point contact for volunteering, team building, assigning of roles
  4. Would be the single-point clarification center for all FAQs
  5. Would be the single-point "Idea Center" for accepting feedback and suggestions and modifying the project (both in concept and in execution) accordingly

Depending on the number of volunteers, there may be a Team of Project Coordinators specific to institution (school / college / organization) or geography (locality / city / country).

Type B Projects (Individual Projects or IP)

These are projects wherein MAD members and other interested junta may work together, but it is not necessary for optimal results. Some examples will be put up soon.

These projects will usually have a "Project Initiator" who:

  1. Would typically have initiated this project
  2. Is willing to help and advise interested participants
  3. Would be the single-point clarification center for all FAQs
  4. Would be the single-point "Idea Center" for accepting feedback and suggestions and modifying the project (both in concept and in execution) accordingly

How Can I Participate?

There are expected to be a fairly large number of MAD Club Projects hosted on this site over time. It goes without saying that no one is expected to participate in all the projects; in fact, this may not even be humanly possible.

It would be more than adequate if you could participate wholeheartedly in even one MAD Club Project.

Do also circulate such MAD ideas among your friends and acquaintances, so they too can choose to be a part of the MAD movement if they wish.

Some very official-sounding Disclaimers

The MAD Club does not belong to any individual. All of us are co-owners of the MAD Club!

The MAD Club has no religious, political, geographic or any other affiliations or preferences.

The MAD Club site will be hosting projects which appeal to it, namely those which have the potential to Make A Difference for the better. Not all projects may be original, or thought up by MAD Club members. To whatever extent possible, we will obtain permission from the owner of the idea or project before hosting it on this site. If you believe your idea or project has been erroneously misrepresented / has not received its due / should not be displayed on this site, please email us and we shall act accordingly.

Monday, October 11, 2004

People Helping People

(MAD Club Group Project II)

(Project Coordinator - Shaffy)

What are some of the worries we face when, God forbid, we or any of our loved ones falls sick and has to be hospitalized?

You will have your own answers. Here is my list, in order of priority:

  1. Quality of doctors, nurses and paramedics. Are they adequately qualified? Are they sensitive and understanding? Are they aware of my concerns, my actual needs? Will they make that extra effort to redress these needs and concerns of mine? Do they understand that they hold in their hands, NOT a sick body which must one day die, but THE LIFE OF ONE OF MY LOVED ONES?
  2. Quality of the hospital overall. Is it neat and clean, so that risk of secondary infection is minimized? Is the food hygienic, healthy and palatable? Is the environment peaceful and quiet? Is the ambience bright and well-lit, the staff cheerful and optimistic and willing to put in that extra effort to help?
  3. Cost involved. Will I be made to pay more than I actually should?
My few experiences with healthcare systems in India has shown that, more often than not, the answers to the above will be No, No, Yes.

Based on your own personal experiences with hospitals, you will doubtless have horror stories of your own to relate. The healthcare systems in most developing countries is abysmal, and the Indian subcontinent is more the rule than the exception.

But do we do anything about it other than rant and rage? NO! Over the ages, consumer courts notwithstanding, we ordinary citizens have learnt to live with our griefs and swallow our unanswered questions instead of seeking to improve the medical system.

Why is that the case?

It is because, if the medical system has to be improved, the initiative CANNOT be taken by laymen like you and me. The initiative MUST come from within the medical fraternity itself.

Why then haven't such initiatives started so far? Why don't doctors live up to the Hippocratic Oath, why don't nurses become Florence Nightingales?

There are a multitude of reasons why not. Lack of time and energy, a blind rush to earn money, highly stressful lives ...

And we common people suffer as a result.

Which is why, when a group of idealistic young doctors decide to stand up and fight the system, one cannot help but cheer oneself hoarse for them!

People Helping People (PHP) is one such bold and visionary initiative started by a young modern-day Florence Nightingale. The objective of PHP is to improve medical ethics in our part of the world, to make the medical fraternity more sensitive to the REAL needs of patients, to improve doctor-patient relationships, to make the entire hospitalization experience sunnier and healthier for the patient.

If you are a part of the medical fraternity, you can help directly. If not, you can help just as much, if not more, in a multitude of ways. Click here to find out how.

Remember, the results of PHP may directly impact you some day. Just a little bit of time and effort from your side can bring a smile to thousands of long-suffering patients.

So do email daringdoctor@gmail.com and volunteer.

And let us Make A Difference.

Aloha friend, have you gone MAD today?
Join TIBD and PHP and lead the way!

International Blanket Day 2004

(MAD Club Group Project I)

Winter is nigh. Yayyy !!!

Winter has always been my favourite season. It conjures up in my mind images of a refreshing nip in the air, cosy pullovers and cardigans, comical monkey caps and riotously colourful scarves, thick snuggly cotton-stuffed blankets. It's a time to enjoy soup and hot chocolate like never before. It's a time when thick fur-encased pomerians look at me pityingly, when I feel envious whenever I stroke the plush coats of pet cats. It's the season of Santa Claus and Lights, of New Year's resolutions and loved ones' birthdays. It's the season of oranges and lemons sold for a penny. It's the season when bathing in the warm mellow noon sunshine feels even better than a hot water shower. I shiver on recalling my experiences with sub-zero desert frostbites, yet feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I cuddle up in my bed and look out of the window at the clearer-than-ever-before starlit skies.

But alas, winter does not hold the same fascination for hundreds of thousands of hapless people. For them, winter means helpless shivering leading to sleepless nights huddled against the nearest stone wall for a shade of protection from the biting wind; inevitable coughs and sneezes and runny noses; the looming threat of fevers which refuse to die down. Little hope of even a cup of warm tea to thaw their limbs and hearts. A cold which penetrates the bones of the aged and the hearts of the young.

In one way or another, each season is an enemy of the poor and homeless and destitute. Winter is an adversary which is often fatal.

Every year, countless Indians die an entirely preventable death due to bitter winter cold.

Can we do something to help?

It was the winter of 2001 when a modest idea was born. Such ideas sometimes happen to the young, foolish, idealistic starry-eyed who still commit the mistake of nurturing hope for the future and reposing an unwavering faith in the human race.

The idea was to designate 9th December, which marks the onset of stiff winter in most parts of India, as "International Blanket Day".

What is the idea behind International Blanket Day?

We all need warmth in our life. And what better way of achieving this is there than sharing warmth with others? Can we ensure that, because of us, at least one poor person will sleep in warmth and comfort this winter? The warmth will assuredly remain with us forever.

What is International Blanket Day?

On or before this day, as many people as possible would be requested to help those less fortunate than them. Please make a donation to any needy person of your choice anywhere in the world this winter, on or before International Blanket Day, and feel the warmth that comes your way. We personally guarantee that a flush of health and happiness will bloom on your cheeks, your digestion will improve beyond recognition, your behaviour will become more effervescent and bubbly and chirpy, your sleep will become more sound, and your dreams will become truly delightful.

How would it work?

The process is as follows:

  1. Each person (henceforth referred to as "contributor") would be asked to look around and identify at least one poor and needy person (henceforth referred to as "beneficiary") of his or her acquaintance.
  2. The contributor would then buy a blanket and give it to the beneficiary.
  3. If the contributor cannot afford a new blanket, he or she is welcome to donate an old blanket to the beneficiary.
  4. If the contributor resides in a warm area which is not affected by severe winter, or if the beneficiary already has a blanket, the contributor will ask the beneficiary about the latter's needs. These could be any of the following:
    a. Warm clothes (sweaters, cardigans, scarves, socks, shawls ... )
    b. Any other clothes (shirts, trousers, kurtas, lungis ... )
    c. Footwear (slippers, shoes ... )
    d. Medicines or medical treatment
    e. School or tuition fees, study books or materials (note pads, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, geometry boxes, pencil boxes, school bags ... )
    f. Food
    g. Money (although this is not very recommended as it is not a sustainable contribution and has the potential to be be misused, still it could definitely be given. It is always better that it is given in the form of items 'a' to 'f' mentioned above. It is also an excellent idea to give this money to an orphanage, old age home, a school for the poor, a hospital for the poor, or any NGO which you know is doing good work)
    h. Anything else which the contributor knows will be useful and important to the beneficiary
  5. Once the contributor knows of the beneficiary's actual needs, he or she will try and provide the beneficiary with the same. The contribution can be new or even second hand. Either way it will Make A Difference.
  6. If nothing else, the contributor can donate a warm loving smile to the beneficiary.

At the end of the day, there should be just that extra bit of warmth and happiness in this increasingly cold and frosty world of ours.

How is this movement different from other donation drives?

Blanket donation drives have been organized before, but this is "a drive with a difference" in two ways:

  1. The drive is self-initiated: Here, the onus on identifying the beneficiary, deciding on what to contribute, as well as making the contribution, rests entirely on YOU.
  2. The drive is self-propagating: It is up to YOU to spread awareness of the movement among your friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances. You could use e-mail, snailmail or any other form of communication for this purpose.

How can you help?

Chronologically, this is the fourth anniversary of the movement. In many ways, however, it is the inaugural year. This is after all the first time an attempt is being made to institutionalize International Blanket Day and make it a little bigger than just an annual college event.

The dream is very lofty. The resources are very scarce.

You can help immeasurably simply by participating.

You can help even more if your answer to any of the following questions is a "Yes":

  1. Do you have family, friends and acquaintances with who you can share this message? Do you know people who are willing and able to create a warmer and happier world?
  2. Can you get together with your friends on any Sunday or half holiday, and organize a little collection and distribution drive on your own? It will not take more than a few hours, and believe me, the kick you will experience is not worth missing.
  3. Is your academic institute or workplace willing to adopt ideas such as these?
  4. Are you good at IT aspects like database management or website design?
  5. Do you have ideas or recommendations or contacts for spreading news of this request to the maximum number of people? Any and all suggestions are most welcome.
  6. And finally, is anyone interested in volunteering to join Team International Blanket Day (TIBD)? TIBD is today a single member team and cordially solicits participation. If anyone volunteers, maybe we can start a concept of TIBD Coordinator for your school / college / organization / locality / city / country.

If you have answered a "Yes" to any of the above, and if you are willing to participate, please email blanketday@yahoo.com. Please mention your name and city / country of residence. All your inputs, feedback, suggestions, ideas, queries, clarifications and offers to help will be keenly appreciated. We promise to revert ASAP.

We also request that each of you who makes a donation informs us of his / her contribution by sending an email to blanketday@yahoo.com. This will help us keep track of the spread and success of the movement.

So come. Join us in celebrating December 9th as International Blanket Day.

And let us Make A Difference. Together.

(PS. People who have already joined up for the MAD Club are requested to kindly send a separate email to blanketday@yahoo.com in case they want to participate - Thanks!)

(PPS. This idea has NO copyrights! You are MOST WELCOME to adopt the idea, improve it as you feel fit, and spread it as your own.)

Making a Difference

True stories of people who, despite starting with almost nothing, have made a huge difference to the world we live in and, God willing, will continue making a difference for many many more years.

The Ahmeds and KBET

Afzal and Sakina Ahmed run two NGOs in Ranchi (Jharkhand). These are the Karra Society for Rural Action (KSRA) and the Kalanga Bazar Educational Trust (KBET). KBET was established in 1995. KBET works in urban poverty-stricken areas to help women, children, and disadvantaged communities become empowered through education, health and economic independence. Groups of women organized into Self-Help Groups (SHGs) get all the necessary training, loans, and support to start their own businesses. Poverty-stricken children are receiving non-formal education in 25 centers. KBET has raised women’s awareness of reproductive health, family planning, nutrition and sanitation. KBET is an amazing organization which started from very humble beginnings and is now doing an unbelievable amount of work.

Tel: +91-651-2491985
e-ID: kbet@sancharnet.in

Vinayak Lohani and Parivaar

An engineer from IIT Kharagpur and MBA from IIM Calcutta, Vinayak, hailing from a middle class family, opted out of the placement process in IIMC in 2003 to became a full-time social activist. He has single-handedly founded Parivaar, an action group that works for education of children from segments of orphans, children of women in prostitution, and street children.

Tel: +91-33-3093 6136
e-ID: Parivaar_mission@yahoo.com

Vardan Kabra and Fountainhead

24-year old Vardan Kabra, an alumnus of IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad, chose to stay out of IIM-A's placement process in 2004 and rejected a pre-placement offer of Rs 7 lakh from Procter and Gamble. Why did this boy from a middle-class family spurn a good offer from a big corporate? Well, Vardan is in the process of setting up a chain of primary schools whose teaching methods will be unique. Vardan has risked comfort and security to live out his dream. He calls his dream "Fountainhead".

Tel.: +91-79-3112 9167
e-ID: info@fountainheadschools.org

I am truly proud and honoured to have known these people personally.

"To give pleasure to a single heart by a single kind act is better than a thousand head-bowings in prayer." -Saadi, poet (c. 1200 AD)

Have You Gone MAD Today?

The human race is cleanly divided into two distinct categories. One is the Haves who comprise less than 2% of the world's population. The other is the Havenots who fill up the remaining 98%.

Just answer this simple question to see which category you fall into:

Q. Are you reading this sentence on your own?

If your answer is "Yes", it means a great deal.

It means you are not visually impaired. You have functioning hands to operate a computer. You can understand what you are reading, which means you are literate, and infinitely more significantly you are literate in English. This in turn implies you are at least reasonably educated. It also indicates that you have access to a computer and the Internet, whether you are in school, college, hostel, office, a cybercafe, or home.

Congratulations! You are very definitely a Have !!! You are in the top 2% of the human race in terms of access to education, employment opportunities, income levels, medical care, housing, and goodness knows what else. So look around you ... of every 100 people you meet, only one other, symbolically speaking, will be as or more fortunate than you !!!

So you're a Have. So what?

Let's start from here ... there's a little bit of madness in all of us. So why not redefine the term MAD itself?

Why not define MAD as "Making A Difference"?

It is here that the concept of the MAD Club comes in.

The MAD Club is a group of Haves. Age, Gender, Religion, Nationality no bar. The only criterion is that the members should feel a common desire to Make A Difference. To the people they meet. To the world they live in.

The purpose of the MAD Club is to think up, plan, organize and implement simple projects which will touch people and improve lives. These projects need not be elaborate in the least. They can be one-off or repetitive. They can be grassroots level or futuristic. They can shake up the world, or equally, they can just make the canteen boy in your office grin for a moment.

The MAD Club is not an NGO. It is simply aimed at being a congregation of like minded people who would like to spend some time together and carry out little projects which make a difference. Members of the MAD Club are strongly encouraged to work with various NGOs and organizations, and share their experiences with others in the MAD Club.

Sounds great so far, right? But how? After all, each of us is busy, caught up in our education, our careers, our family lives, our social lives. Even if we do have the inclination, we scarcely have the time or the energy to do "social work" at the end of a tiring day. So how can we Make A Difference? How can we MAD?

Well, how about MADding only when we have time and inclination, only in or around our place of residence, only within our budgets, only within our constraints? And it needn't be anything big either !!

Do we have any examples to show us the way? Sure we do !!

A great example of a MAD project is A smile across many miles. Another is Dreams Come True. A modern-day Florence Nightingale has initiated a wonderful project called People Helping People. Another project, International Blanket Day, will follow soon. And some of our truly inspirational role models are these wonderful people.

Today, Monday October 4th 2004, heralds the official commencement of the MAD Club. The clarion call of this esteemed mental institution shall be, "Have You Gone MAD Today?"

True, one person alone can do very little. But together, trust me, we can truly MAD. We can Rock The World.

You are sincerely invited to join. If anyone wants to apply, or if anyone has any suggestions or queries (both are very cordially solicited, these will form the backbone of the MAD Club after all), please email suhailkassim@gmail.com with your name and location (city / country).

So come. Let us MAD. Together.

Anyone interested?

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