Tuesday, November 30, 2004
(Project Coordinator: Srini)
"They are the beauties, we are the beasts."
This little cosmic rock we live on is an awesomely beautiful place.
And what makes it immeasurably more beautiful is the welcome presence of so many diverse life forms. Wild animals, pets, insects. Varying in size and shape from the one-celled amoeba (some of which look really beautiful under a powerful microscope) to the overweight "gotta-go-on-crash-diet" blue whale. Some cute, some scary. Some slow and lazy like Garfield, some quick and active like Odie. Some beautiful, some ugly-pugly. Some impressive, some yawn-whats-so-great-about-them. But all, without exception, very very important. Critical in their own little ways for sustaining our world as we know it.
Have you ever seen a little squirrel having lunch? Click HERE to catch Chiki, a female squirrel who had been frolicking atop the branches of a mango tree with Chikoo, her better half, but who has now succumbed to her hunger pangs and is sitting on her hind legs and balancing herself with her long tail and nibbling on a nut while rubbing her beady nostrils with her furry front paws.
Have you ever petted a cow when she has looked at you with those melting, drooping eyes? Click HERE to see Moo the Cow, flapping her big ears to keep the flies away, hoping that you will stop by and rub her shiny long nose and tickle her under her chin and pet her on the head.
Guess my personal favourite pet? Hint: It's cute, soft, warm, fuzzy, furry, innocent, sweet ... Hark! Do I hear you say "This description fits most pets ... kittens, puppies, even koala bears and pandas?" Well ... actually I'm referring to the Bunny Rabbit :-))))
For the TV addicts among you, Animal Planet is an entrancing channel. It shows us how beautiful and how marvellous the diverse animal kingdom is.
Alas, the fact is that life is not always as smooth and pleasant for the animal world as is made out on television.
In fact, for the vast majority of all animals in the world today, existence sucks.
Do you enjoy going to zoos? I really did. Until one of the caretakers in the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata, a true-blue animal lover himself, told me, with sadness and bitterness and frustration in his voice, of how badly the animals there are treated. True, they are given safety and a good prescribed diet and medicines when they fall ill. But for a moment, place yourself in the paws of a Royal Bengal tiger. A king of the jungle, whose dominion once included vast open spaces. Now confined to a 20 ft x 20 ft space in a cramped zoo, with little children chucking pebbles at him through the bars. No space to stretch its legs; no patch of green to lie upon; no stream of cool water with which to quench its thirst; no thrill of chasing a deer and hunting it down. Doomed to never taste, or smell, or feel, freedom. Is this what it was born to do -- entertain humans?
Do you enjoy going to the circus and watching wild animals putting up skilled performances for your viewing pleasure? I really did. Until I came to know how wickedly some of them are punished and tormented on days when they do not perform up to the mark. Tell me, which animal would like to jump through hoops of fire? Would we force humans to do likewise? Would you like to?
The MAD Club hereby launches Project LUBKTOA -- Let Us Be Kind To Our Animals.
This project does not require much effort on your part. You need not turn totally vegetarian or carry slogans. All you need to do to participate in this project, is avoid cruelty to animals. For all they need, all they ask for, all they cry out for, is a little love and understanding. Stop them from being kicked or stoned. Teach your children to appreciate how innocent and beautiful animals are. Feed biscuits to hungry dogs; an occasional packet of Parle-G will do. Stroke any puppies or kittens you come across; it is our solemn promise to you that they will not bite you. Try not to litter, or dirty any natural water bodies, or pollute the air; innumerable fishes and migratory birds will bless you.
And if you are in Mumbai, you can carry the following numbers around with you in your purse or wallet, and if you see any animal in pain or suffering, whether in your own house or on any street or anywhere else, just call up:
- For dogs and cats: WSD (+91-22-23733433 / 23891070)
- For all other animals: SPCA (+91-22-24137518 / 24133451), PETA (+91-22-26281880, Fax: +91-22-26281883)
- For first aid and emergency services: Karuna Mobile Clinic (+91-22-26701413)
For those who live in other cities and countries, and for those who wish to volunteer for a more active role than prescribed above, details of some animal rights organizations are given in the links below:
- Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
- Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC)
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
- PETA India
PETA India can be contacted by postal mail, voice phone, fax, or e-mail.
Those using e-mail, please include both your name and mailing address when requesting any information to be mailed to you.
P.O. Box 28260
Mumbai 400 049
For other contact numbers and details, queries, or suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come let us do our bit in making the world a better place for all life forms. Come participate in Project LUBKTOA.
And let us Make A Difference.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
MAD Emergency Appeal # 1
Here is an all-time favourite Chicken Soup story ...
Giving When it Counts
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her."
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.
He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?".
Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.
Below is an email received yesterday from my friend and batchmate Yogi aka Yogesh Yadav <email@example.com>. Please respond.
Subject: Help needed to raise funds for a bone marrow transplant
A friend of mine (a batchmate from IITD) is trying to raise funds for his little niece, Sukriti, who is suffering from Blood Cancer. Since the cost of treatment is very high and his family cannot afford it, we are planning to mobilize the same from people across various companies / universities.
Request you all to make donations for the cause. However small you may consider your contribution to be, it would indeed be a great support for Sukriti.
For more details please find my friend's mail attached below.
If anyone is interested in making e-transfer then it can be done to my account (ICICI / HSBC).
Please drop me a mail and I’ll provide the account details.
I am trying to raise funds for my little niece Sukriti, who is suffering from blood cancer (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and urgently needs a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately for us, an unrelated bone marrow transplant is not done in India and therefore we’ve zeroed down on Singapore as a preferred location for the transplant. Although the cost of the transplant in Singapore is relatively a lot less compared to other locations ($150K vs $400K in US), my family would only be able to mobilize approx. $50Kgiven our current financial situation. We are hoping to raise the balance for Sukriti’s transplant through donations and other fundraising channels.
In this regard, we’ve set up a charity fund called the Save Sukriti Fund and a website (www.savesukriti.org) that provides information on Sukriti’s situation. The website has an online payment gateway (Paypal) for online contributions as well as an option to mail checks/demand drafts to Save Sukriti Fund both in US and in India. (Online Payment Link: http://www.savesukriti.org/make_donation.htm)
I would really appreciate any help from your side and would be grateful if you could also forward this email to your family, colleagues and friends who would be able to contribute to this cause. Also, I would really welcome any other fundraising ideas /suggestions that you might have in order to raise the appropriate funds for Sukriti in this short time frame.
Thank you so much for all your help.
(617) 987-2383 (Home)
(858) 229-3427 (Cell)
P.S: For people outside the US, wanting to contribute through Paypal, it takes 2-3 days to verify your debit /credit card if you are using Paypal for the first time. The other option is to contribute via a check/demand draft.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
(based on Bloggers who've volunteered via email as on 09/11/2004):
- Sumu - Coordinator, Bangalore Chapter
- Neelima - Coordinator, Hyderabad Chapter
- Phoenix - Coordinator, Hyderabad & Gulbarga Chapters
- RS - Coordinator, Delhi Chapter
- TT - Coordinator, Delhi Chapter
- Srini - Coordinator, Mumbai Chapter
- Shaffy - Coordinator, Pakistan Chapter
- Sagnik - Coordinator, US Chapter
Applications for coordinators are open until further notice. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for applying. Everyone's invited! :)
Agenda for TIBD Coordinators:
First of all, welcome aboard on Ship TIBD! Here's hoping you have a heady flight.
After some brainstorming, the 7-Step PoA has been laid out as follows:
Step 1: Select your team members (at least 4 per coordinator). They could be from among your colleagues, friends or family, or just about anyone in your city irrespective of age, gender or any other factor.
Step 2: Each member of your team is to identify a unique "Attack Zone". It could be the local Railway station, vegetable market, mosque, temple, just about any place. The single criterion for an area being chosen as an "Attack Zone" is that there must be a fair number of poor homeless people there.
Step 3: Your team now has as many "Attack Zones" as members. Please brainstorm among yourselves and decide on the final number of "Attack Zones" that your team will focus on. Then decide which "Attack Zones" have made the final cut.
Step 4: Hunt for sponsors! Ask around. Colony residents, classmates, car pool members, the Admin department of your company. Tell them about TIBD. Team members can of course sponsor, though it is not imperative.
Step 5: Collect money or second hand clothes / blankets (which are in good wash-n-use condition) or anything else which can be donated to the poor, from the sponsors! Whatever they're willing to donate of their own accord, happily.
Step 6: Purchase blankets with the money collected! Small blankets for poor children, larger ones for widows / old / handicapped people. (Note that the Target Groups for TIBD 2004 are orphans and poor children, widows, old people and handicapped people).
Step 7: Distribute the blankets and clothes to the identified Target Groups at the identified "Attack Zones" personally.
And feel the warmth that comes your way!
Team members may divide responsibilities among themselves if they wish. Our recommendation is that everyone be involved in everything.
The Mumbai Chapter Challenge
Team TIBD, Mumbai Chapter, presents its interim report card for the period 09/10/2004 to 09/11/2004:
- Number of teams involved: 2
- Total number of participants: 12
- Final "Attack Zones": 2 (Mahim area, Haji Ali Area)
- Other areas where contribution made: Bandra station, Khar station
- Total amount collected: approx. Rs. 8,000
- Total number of blankets donated: 101
YAY !! The Mumbai Chapter has HIT A CENTURY !!!
In celebration, the Mumbai Chapter throws an open challenge to all other TIBD Chapters to overtake its record on or before "International Blanket Day" - 9th Dec 2004.
All members of the Chapter which overtakes, or comes closest to, the Mumbai Chapter will be treated to a dinner at any place of their choice whenever they visit Mumbai next.
Has any Chapter the guts to respond?
- For and on behalf of Team TIBD, Mumbai Chapter
Some awesome heart-warming feedback from D. Yogeshwaran (Yogi) of IISc Bangalore. He writes in:
In IISc, a group of students have been collecting clothes, blankets etc. & distributing them around this time of the year for the past 3-4 years. I've joined the group this year. Basically, we place huge carton boxes at many places within the campus and put a notice requesting the institute community to donate their best. Then we assimilate and throw away the ones in really bad condition. We also a buy a few blankets. We distribute it in Govt hospitals, maternity homes etc. One interesting way the blankets are distributed is, the group goes out in a vehicle at 2.00am in the morning & distributes it to the pavement-dwellers in near-by areas.
The Report of Activity for the Year 2003 is as follows:
As you are aware, a large number of winter clothes and other material have been collected in the Institute over the past couple of weeks. The response from the Institute community has been tremendous and unprecedented. A total of over 1500 items (more than twice that werecollected last year) were collected. A number of volunteers (about 30) from students, faculty and staff participated in the activity. It is matter of immense satisfaction to inform you all that over 1500 items have been received. Most of them are in very good condition and some of them were new. The list consists of new blankets (81), old blanket and bed sheets (43), pants (322), shirts (325), T-shirts (194), other material such as jerkins (20), sweaters (20), dhotis (16 ), sarees (65 including 12 new), womens wear (236) and children wear (193), and shawls (5). These were sorted and distributed to the homeless and the needy in various places in Bangalore. The items were distributed to:
- Homeless people (these people have only some plastic sheets / old newspapers, sometimes nothing to cover them) sleeping on pavements in the Yeswantpur area, Majestic railway station and K R Market area 1.00-5.00 AM Saturday, November 8th 2003.
- Needy and poor patients in various government hospitals (Hospital superintendent/staff have been very helpful in identifying the deserving cases)
Bowring Hospital, Shivaji Nagar, 2-5.30 pm, Saturday, 8-11-2003
Kidwai cancer Hospital (Dharmashala) 6.30-8 pm, Saturday, 8-11-2003
Victoria Hospital, K R Market 9.30-11.00 am, Saturday 15-11-2003
Vani Vilas Hospital K R Market 11.00-1.00 pm, Saturday 15-11-2003
Maternity Home (Yeswantpur railway station) 5-6 pm, Wednesday 19-11-2003
This is a simple and robust model which can be replicated in most academic insitiutes (schools and colleges), in organizations which are bullish on Social Service (the Admin department will usually buy in if you pitch it as a Brand Building exercise for the company!!) , as well as in your own housing colonies. Do try it out!Happy TIBDing! :-)
Monday, November 01, 2004
It was a warm Monday morning. A little beggar boy and girl, maybe 5 and 3 years old respectively, jumped into a crowded second class compartment of a Mumbai local train. The boy sang old Hindi movie classics in mellifluous albeit high-pitched tunes. The girl went around with a steel bowl, unleashed her warm innocent smile at unsuspecting passengers, and wriggled several coins out of their heart pockets.
At the next stop, an old blind beggar clambered into the same compartment. He struggled through the crowded aisle, requesting alms in a feeble shaky voice. The commuters, their patience and charitable intentions already exhausted by the boy-girl combo, ignored the hint of weariness and desperation in the old man's voice. By the time he reached the other end, where the little boy and girl were now standing quietly, his bowl was almost as empty as it had been when he had entered.
The boy looked sideways at the girl. Almost imperceptibly, she nodded. The boy quietly took a handful of coins from the bowl which the girl was carrying, and dropped it into the blind beggar's bowl as he passed them by. The next moment, the train had stopped and the boy and girl had disappeared into the crowded platform in a flash.
The question here could be about who was the most generous of them all. The ones who had it all, or the ones who had it in them to give it all away?
The question here could also be about who needs our help so badly, so desperately, that even beggar children are willing to help them.
Imagine never knowing what a clear blue sky looks like. Imagine not knowing what the difference between "pink" and "green" is. Imagine living your entire life in a riotously colorful city, which all Indian cities without exception are, and not knowing anything except occasional flashes of white and black. Imagine walking through gloriously golden corn fields and knowing that you're missing someting so wonderful, so beautiful, so miraculously divine. And knowing full well that you would never, ever, be able to have that experience, sense that thrill, feel that warmth, which this beautiful world has on display every single day.
If there is one thing which can partly compensate for the beauty of this world, it is the beauty of a kind and sympathetic human heart. If we can do our bit, just a little bit, for the blind people of this world, they will surely notice and be overjoyed. For the blind can see with their heart. And they can see kindness from miles away.
The MAD Club hereby launches Project DBBTTB - Don't Be Blind To The Blind.
Our inspiration for this project comes from Neelima. Here are excerpts from a beautiful email she wrote to the MAD Club. Notice the Truth and the Wisdom in these humble words which she has written so simply ...
"I just feel we are losing ourselves in this busy world. 'Me, mine, my family, my job' ... everything is restricted to this small spectrum. I have always wanted to do something, not that I feel superior, but if I can make someone smile with my own capabilities then I will feel I have had a better living in this world. The day I know someone has smiled with my efforts, I can sleep in peace ... I go to a blind school regularly to gift them audio cassettes, they need them very badly to record their notes and listen to them ... but I think as a single hand I am not capable of doing much ... "
She signed off with "Akele chal pade the, log milte gaye, kaarvan banta gaya".
Can we reach out our hand to the Neelimas of this world? Can we ensure that they never need to say that they are "a single hand", that they never have to feel that they are alone on the rocky road they are travelling?
Can we share the loneliness of blind people of this world? If we do, the loneliness will melt away before our very eyes and the world will appear to be suddenly filled with the color of love. The color and the love which can only be seen through the eyes of the blind.
The MAD Club does not prescribe any methodology for Project DBBTTB. Whether you wish to participate by volunteering for a School for the Blind, or by agreeing to donate your eyes to the blind after death, or by deciding to give alms to every blind beggar you will meet in future, or by helping blind people across a busy road whenever you can, is entirely your choice.
Do email email@example.com for mutual sharing of ideas.
And let us Make A Difference.