Be the Cause

Just an appetizer

This is just the appetizer said Virenbhai as he addressed the 20 plus volunteers cramped in the Seva Cafe kitchen. This is just the beginning. We must keep moving forward to create more meaningful projects and to continue serving others. The main dish, he stated, still awaits us.

In that anticipation he lit a fire that got many of us thinking: What else could we be doing to serve others; How else can we help to make this world a better place?

Virenbhai’s visit in that sense was just a reminder of what life could have in store for us. He only spent a few hours with us, but even so, he has left a deep change stirring within.

Virenbhai, for those of you that aren’t familiar, co-founded an organization 20 years ago that now cares for 6000 children every day, runs over 50 projects and does it all with one governing principle: that to lovingly care for others is our nature and our duty. This principle is so ingrained in the staff and the volunteers that even the recipients of their good work get indoctrinated with it. The organization is now literally being run by those who once benefited from it, because they now too realize that they must continue this circle of giving.

This love for service is apparent in all that Virenbhai does. A few minutes at the Seva Cafe and he immediately rushed to the kitchen to start washing dishes. I literally had to pull him away to introduce him to some of the guests.

Despite his busy schedule, between getting awards at the King Institute in Stanford and visiting family in Chicago, he took the time to visit us. His visit was more a gift than a tour, he even brought kites so that we could get a taste of the Kite Festival from his home town of Ahmadabad, Gujarat. As we flew the kites in the afternoon a few kids in the nearby park curiously came up to us. Virenbhai happily greeted them and sent them on their way with new gifts. A brother and sister held hands as they ran off. Their new kites flinging behind them in anticipation of flights yet to come. A hand made necklace bearing the faces of Gandhi and King dangled between the two as they held in tightly in their joined palms. A picturesque moment as the sun began to fade and dip ahead of them. All we saw as we stared in their direction was a brighter future.

For those of you that helped make his trip happen, thank you. More on Manav Sadhna, the organization that Virenbhai helped start:

“What is service?”

I just woke up after having dinner at Bharti’s and learning about indicorps.

I think it was brilliant that the invite to this dinner said, “What is Service?” instead of “Meet Indicorps.” Right now I woke up with not just thinking about something creative that Indicorps is doing, but also with parallel thoughts on service.

First, Indicorps is a network of fellows, NGOs and young activists that share oppurtunities to share time, energy, and money among social entities in India and sons and daughters of the “Indian Diaspora”. They have a good model that is based on global community outreach and sustainability. They offer fellowships to college graduates of Indian decent to take on 50+ projects that have been set up by trusted NGOs in India that need a very specific skill set. Fellows apply to be placed in one of the projects and then are given the tools to communicate directly with the people and places where they will be serving. Every young Indian that wants the freedom to impact the world in some positive way should read about this network of people, ideas, and action.

Even though Indicorps is exclusive for expatriot Indians, their approach to how they do things answers the question, “What is Service?”.

So, I wanted to ask everyone that reads this post:

What is Service to You?

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