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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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

Posted on February 7, 2009, in global, India, inspiration, media, nonprofit, orphans, poverty, volunteer and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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