Vignesh is an orphan. As a young boy, he was attending a school run by a public service facility. Without notice the funding for this facility was cut off from its foreign source. Without any funding left to support the expenses, the school was closed. All the children attending the school were left with no re-course. Their education and dreams of the future was cut short. Vignesh could barely find his directions for the future along with scores of other youngsters. Somehow Vignesh found a way to finish his school, pursue an undergraduate degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Public Works (MPW). Today, Vignesh helps to run the Rehabilitation Center of the Rehoboth Home about 40 miles away on the outskirts of Chennai, India. http://www.rehobothhome.org/index.html
Vignesh says, “Life is not the adversity you are dealt with. Instead life is what you do as a response to the adversity. It is what you become as a response to such adversity. I want to work on projects and make them grow so that they stand on their own resources and are not dependent on outside support in the future”. Listening to him you might think that Vignesh is a wise old man. Yet, he is an enthusiastic and energetic young man perhaps in his late twenties!
Rehabilitation Center of the Rehoboth Home supports about fifty destitute, mentally disabled women. The AASAI N Puthumai is a thrift store, where used clothes, appliances, toys, furniture and any other donated items are sold for the local customers. With so much talent and with good education behind him, Vignesh could do so many things especially in India today with so many opportunities. Yet Vignesh has chosen to help run the rehabilitation center as well as the thrift store. His motivation: Develop and implement projects for social welfare that are self-sustaining.
Amla is a young woman with an attractive smile. She is a mother, but her child does not live with her. Amla’s husband abandoned her and left her to fend for herself as a destitute, since she developed the illness of mental disability. Now she is cured of this illness and she is doing fine under normal medication required for her health condition. But she has no home. Her family will not take her back. This is the cruelty faced by the mentally disabled, even after their full recovery. But this has not deterred Amla. Today she runs the thrift store, while she continues to live in the home for destitute. Amla has learned to operate the electronic cash register and also maintains the accounts.
Few of the rehabilitated volunteers at the thrift store. Amla is second from the left.
What appears as tiny little steps for most of us are truly large accomplishments for those starting at the bottom of the social, economic and emotional pyramid. Vignesh, Amla and many others who work at this thrift store or housed in the homes for the needy, could be the brother, sister or cousin of any one of the readers. It is the smile in their faces and their slow but sure rehabilitation that makes all the work through any charitable cause, a genuinely personal and worthy objective.
I had an opportunity to meet Amla and Vignesh, during my recent visit to a few charitable organizations in my recent visit to India. My friend Narasimhan makes many more such visits than I do, on behalf of AASAI. Such visits give us a chance to practice the basics of caring and sharing. This can be a life time goal. It need not be deferred to old age or after “retirement”. It need not be limited to charitable contributions. It can be much more than that. Those who work with the needy, day in and day out in these charitable organizations truly carry out God’s work on earth. An occasional visit with them and conversations with them are truly inspiring. These events cleanse the soul and ground you in reality. During such visits when we connect with Vignesh, Amla and countless others the experience is truly uplifting.
Truly inspiring! Spirituality in practice!
Amazing work! Very inspiring.