My Forever Hero – My Dad

My father had always been my biggest supporter and most incredible source of inspiration. A man who taught me how to live and love (After all he lived up to his name- PREM). He was the one whose life I reflect on and learn these life lessons from. Hopefully, some of these lessons will come in handy for you, too:

Help people at any available opportunity

My father was a man who was always ready to help others- relatives/neighbors/business partner or any unknown person in need. Many a times when I noticed that people are taking advantage of his helpful nature, I used to tell him not to help. But he never listened and continued helping.

Now with time, I have realized how correct he was. We humans usually tend towards selfishness rather than generosity, on helping ourselves rather than helping our brothers and sisters in humanity. But, when we set our sight on helping others, everything we do is fixed in a positive direction. I believe he had also seen that this activates success in his life, and this is why he always spoke of unconditional service as he does; as the first step towards feeling immeasurable, abounding joy.

The Simplest Things in Life are Always the Best

He was a simple man and preferred Simple Living & High Thinking.

I still remember the time when I was a kid and had put on lip-color for a family function. He made sure I remove it before reaching the function. (Lol! How funny I would have looked).

He always used to say- Make up is fake and Simplicity is eternal. Wear your smile as it looks better than lip-color.☺

Girls can, too.

With two older sisters and my mom, my father lived in a female-dominant household. (You can imagine how submissive he would have been :p). He made sure three of us have excellent education, no matter how hard he had to work for it, how far he had to accompany us for competitive exams. He never considered us any less than a son. We had enough freedom to drive a car, to manage our own finances, to choose our career or to choose a life partner. He never focused on “Char Log Kya Kahenge”.

Do not save what is left after SPENDING, but spend what is left after SAVING

Just like any other kid, we also had our separate piggy banks during childhood. He taught us the difference between need and extravagance which we learned to call financial discipline.

Today I am happy I am not a part of the crowd who derive a pseudo pleasure of financial independence by ostentatious display of ‘brand’ rather I belong to a group of people who respects the efforts that goes into earning a penny and believes in minimizing wasteful expenses.

Health is wealth

I: “Papa! Why don’t you open a confectionery shop? I want to eat lots of candies and chocolates”

He (Being in business of fruits): “Fruits are good for health. You are lucky that you are getting such good quality fruits to eat. Appreciate that”

I: “Papa, why don’t you buy a car? All parents drop their kids to school by car. It does not look nice to walk to school (especially during rainy season)”

He: “Walking is good for health dear, enjoy the weather”.

I completely understand now that why so many words he said concerned my health. Being in a corporate job where I have to sit and work for long hours, I realized how important it is to have a healthy body and healthy mind. This is the reason why I feel agony & guilt when I go days without fruits or miss stairs while going to board metro.

Don’t you dare give up

After battling cancer for 2 years, He passed away on April 2, 2016.

It’s much easier to give up than taking a challenging path, he taught us not to lose hope. Waking up every morning and greeting each day with a smile would have taken a lot of courage for him.

Here I would like to mention the efforts put in by my mother in supporting him each day. I am sure her dedication and hard work towards his health made the treatment a little less painful.

Today is his Birthday. I won’t say he is not with us.

He is here with us, in our hearts, he is living through his daughters and his wife.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited..

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

It cannot silence courage

It cannot destroy confidence

It cannot erode faith

It cannot kill friendship

It cannot destroy peace

It cannot suppress memories

It cannot erode the spirit

It cannot steal eternal life

It cannot conquer the soul.

~Anonymous

Swati Khurana

Founder Tickled Pink | Social Activist | Spreading Smiles

Salma Memon: UMEED ki Kiran

I am a 24 years old, young dynamic girl. I am the founder of UMEED – A Ray of Hope for Better Tomorrow and Director – Social Ambassador of the Indian Development Foundation (IDF).

I have been an active volunteer for a number of causes for the betterment of society right from my childhood. I am associated with 14 plus NGOs in Mumbai.

I was 10 years old when I started my journey of social work with NGOs in my school days, and the 14 years of service have surely brought smiles and relief for hundreds. My life circumstances motivated me to work for the betterment of the society.

I belong to a resource constrained family, my circumstances made me realize at very young age that it was very difficult for our parents to educate us both. My brother is 7 years older than me, and had to quit his education after 10th grade, so that I could study. He drives an auto rickshaw now.

The realization was on a rainy day in Mumbai, many years ago, that education was out of reach for thousands of children, including myself. The rains were pouring down heavily one night. In a dim-lit house in the slums, water was pouring from every corner, but my shivering hands were busy cutting the threads of shirts to earn 50 paisa for a night. It was all my brother and I could do to support our education.

I lost my father on the day of my brother’s wedding, which came as a huge shock to us. It was very difficult for us to survive after losing my father. I had to work part time along with college and my social activities to support my education and my family. We had no sponsors back then to support our cause.

I now work as a teacher in a Private-aided school. I can easily get a job in an international school that will pay me better, but working here validates my cause.

Every step right from childhood was very challenging till my college days. By God Grace things are now fine and now I have founded my brain child 2 years ago which works for underprivileged and orphan children to help in education, health and empowering women.  UMEED aims to delete the word ‘Underprivileged’ from the society and make the bright future of India by spreading smile and happiness across.

Team UMEED has managed to organized over hundred events and rallies for awareness on issues like breast cancer. We never skip a chance to spread a smile. We celebrate each and every festival to imbibe the culture in children and also organized various education workshops for children and underprivileged families.

My accolades include the Mother Teresa Award, Best Social Activist, Best Social Ambassador, Pride of the Nation, Best social Action Award, Best Leader, Best Social Media Co-ordinator, India excellence Award, I volunteer Award, Top 100 Youth Leader of India, Best Social Volunteer work, Youth Icon Award and many more. But the real reward for me lie in the satisfaction that we have made such a huge difference in so many lives.

I believe in creating Leaders not followers, so that a leader can learn, get inspired, motivated and replicate the same at other places. I alone, or any one other Social Activist, can’t reach everywhere. So Join Hands together to know more or get in touch you can connect with her on Facebook. CLICK HERE

Salma                                                                                                                         Founder Umeed| Social Ambassador| Social Activist

Eneesh Singh Arora : Never Say Die Spirit

As they say every person has a story, here’s mine-

So I spent a normal childhood, the boy who once used to swim, dance and go out to play as all kids his age would. That was till I reached 9th grade when I started experiencing pain in my legs. Walking till the bus stand to catch the school bus became a tedious task.

A visit to the doctors and a few futile checkups later, my brother took me to Vimhans hospital where they found out that I was suffering from Wilson’s – a disease in which copper enzymes begin to collect first in the liver and then in the brain, causing neurological problems. Within the next month, I was confined to bed, unable to move a limb, speak, eat or drink and then moved to a wheelchair.

Not to be pinned down by adversity, in spite of poor motor functions and other debilitating symptoms, I cleared my exams and attended regular college.

While in college I joined a society called Jagriti, which was working for differently abled students to make their life easier while in college. Though I was in the society for them to help me in my daily college fusels but it turned out that I started helping other differently abled students. I started participating in every activity I could inside or outside Jagriti. Within 2 years, I was promoted as vice president of the society, which was big achievement for me. Besides Jagriti, in my daily & my college life my teachers, my family, my friends, every person I knew gave me so much love and support which motivated me to improve and they are the ones who brought light in my life, after my college was finished I thought that all the love and support I got is not in the fortune of all, so I thought that I should repay society in some way or other but I didn’t know where to start and that’s when I met Mohit Ahuja, founder of Bikers for Good. He proposed me to participate in a social awareness event which was related to my disease and without any hesitation. I said yes to him. We held a fairly large event, which was a success and I became a known face to the bikers’. They called me an inspiration and this day paved the way for many more initiatives that I became a part of.  The event since then has been a yearly ritual that I follow. After this, I have worked as an individual and also collaborated with different groups and Non-Profit Organizations to fulfill my aim to give back to the society.

We ran a Campaign and took into our hands to go from one home to another spreading awareness about AIDS, safe sex on World AIDS Day.  I also worked with UMEED and took action against the abuse and violence that animals face called. The initiative was called #IndiaUnitesForAnimals. I also travelled to Agra to meet the beautiful young women working at SHEROS Café, all of them being Acid attack survivors and donated a sum there. My family and I donate quilts to the needy every winter as well. I have worked alongside organizations like Tickled Pink which took kids fighting with cancer to a fun picnic and gave them one memorable day, Each One Teach One, the initiative by Deepak Jhangra, where they provide kids with basic amenities for school and makes sure that no one is left behind.  Another organization that I have been a part of since almost a year and a half is Those in Need, where I have been a chief guest at Dance for Kindness, participated in Bubble parade and many more. I still wants to keep pursuing this passion and keep giving back to the society.

In the end I would just like to say that if someone’s life is full of darkness you could be the angel to bring light in their life.

Eno

Social Activist| Photographer

Harsh Kothari: har-hath-kalam

My hometown is a small place in Rajasthan, where I have seen many child marriages, kids working as domestic laborers, etc. They were doing jobs which kids of the same age are not supposed to do. I always felt sorry for them and their circumstances and did what was in my power to give them momentary happiness – sitting down to play with them.

During initial college days, I was a frequent visitor to the local chai wala and my ears were only able to pick the voice calling CHOTU now and then.

Chotu came with a smile, greeted each one, served delicious tea and went back. One day I called him to ask his name, he said, I am CHOTU, everyone calls me by this name, I don’t have any other name. I asked what you want to become, he said so sweetly “kuch ni bhaiya” and left.

That whole day I was only thinking about him and why he said that? Why was he not in school? Why had he stopped dreaming? I have always been active in knowing and debating about Government policies, there execution methodology & the impact they imprint and always criticizing them. I questioned myself, what have I done personally to bring a change?

Reply was, nothing.. I only made noises but didn’t take an action.

I went sleepless for 10-15 days when I finally internalized all my conflicts and decided that I wanted to do something. I wanted to help them dream and build a future. In the next few hours of discussion with friends, KALAM, our first step was ready with the Facebook page and our motto ‘har-hath-kalam’.

We started by enrolling the kids in school. But soon realized that this was not enough, so we started teaching them, celebrating the important days, playing, singing and dancing with them. We never looked back, our team expanded as more and more enthusiastic minds joined us.

We faced many harsh realities like seeing a 10-year-old kid high on drugs, getting fake scars. We researched on the matter extensively, and took up charge to spread awareness among people about anti-begging and how this menace is killing the young generation of this country. We empowered the kids with education, their parents with employment, disabled and old age people with government schemes and respective shelter homes. The smiles we brought in their lives pushed me to go keep moving forward.

I will continue to work in this area and many more. I want these kids to be a part of India’s changing economy. We need to make sure that they are not left behind. Our country will progress on the right track only when no kid is left on the streets to beg, rather they are in class rooms to study.

Harsh
Founder, KALAM| Social Activist| Anti-Begging| Food Lover| Spreading Smile