Monthly Archives: February 2009

Shelley travels back to India – March 2009

So it’s almost March 1, and I am due to leave once again for India. I will be spending almost the entire month of March there, and am so excited to see these precious children once again. I will be blogging from the road so keep an eye on this space!

In the meantime, here is an interactive map where you can follow my journey.

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Care for India

I received word through a writer’s group I am a member of about a new organization called Care for India. This is a non-profit website whose purpose is to aggregate information about the many issues impacting India’s development as well as the various initiatives taken by private citizens, the government and NGOs to tackle each of these issues.

How often have we all looked around us and felt upset, angry or disgusted with the state of affairs in India – be it the numerous poor children we see shivering in rags and begging on the streets, the quality of education dished out, the various health epidemics or other issues? And yet very often that anger or disgust or anguish fails to find a productive outlet which would help mitigate the problem.

India has always been a country with tremendous potential but unless each and every one of us becomes aware and contributes our share, that potential is always going to remain in the realms of speculation. It is unfair and impractical to expect only the government to be responsible for each and every problem and frankly, the results thereof are clearly visible today. The purpose of Care for India is to make it easier for each of us who cares for India to understand her problems and be able to help.

This is a great place to get informative articles about the various issues in India, or contribute if you have something to say! Visit Care for India!

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Way of Life

In the late 80s, New Jersey based artist Michael Daube was backpacking around India. In Calcutta, two small children approached him on the street, begging for money. Michael began talking with them, and soon the children had invited him to accompany them to the place where they had lunch every day.

Michael and the children arrived at a Catholic charity where dozens of children were awaiting their lunch. Michael asked one of the sisters if he could volunteer or help in some way; the nun told him that he better talk to the sister in charge, and led him to another room to wait.

Into the room walked Mother Theresa – whom Michael had never even heard of at the time.

After he returned to the United States, Michael was still trying to figure out how he could return and help the children. In 1994 he was rummaging through a dumpster near his Jersey City loft, looking for sculpture materials, when he came across a drawing in a rickety frame signed with a funky initial. Having taken an art attribution course, Michael had an inkling that it might be a David Hockney. A professional confirmed his hunch, and Michael, then 30, sold his find for $18,000.

With this money, he took off for India. He went back to Mother Teresa and asked her how he might practice compassion $18,000 richer. She suggested opening a school in the country’s poorest, most heavily tribal state, rural Orissa. Prone to floods and cyclones, it’s an area about which even devoted aid workers ask, “Why would you go there?”

Daube soon found out what they were talking about. “In Orissa, people with extremely sick babies approached me begging for any kind of medicine, even aspirin,” he says. “I saw a man in a basket hanging from bamboo poles held by two skinny men who intended to carry him more than 18 miles through mud to the nearest hospital. Instead of building a school, I began to build a hospital.”

Since that time, Michael’s non profit organization, Citta, has built numerous schools, hospitals, clinics and women’s centers in India. Michael was even profiled in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine.

Michael is currently featured in a new film titled Way of Life, by David Driver.  The film is premiering in San Francisco on February 27 at 6 pm. Click here for tickets & more info.

Here is a synopsis:

Way of Life is the story of a group of people, from Nepal, India, Europe and America who work together in a small international NGO that benefits people in some of the least developed areas of the world. At the center of it all is the unique tale of Michael Daube, a young man from small town America who finds a valuable piece of art in the garbage, sells it at auction and builds a hospital in one of the most remote areas of India.

I encourage you to see this film if you can, support it, and Michael’s organization – CITTA.

You can view the trailer for the movie here.

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