It is when you give of Yourself that you truly Give - Moments in Reflections of a Wednesday Circle

Posted by Aparna Iyer on Mar 2, 2012

[When Khushroo and his wife spoke at an Awakin Ahmedabad, one of the listeners was Aparna Iyer.  She blogged her experience as follows.]

Meditation is rightly called the food for the soul. It the moment when you connect to your true self and are at peace with your heart. It is when you are overwhelmed with love, compassion and gratitude. The moment when you are aware of your breath, devoid of thoughts and one with the higher self. What happens when 25 souls come to gether to connect with their true selves, The atmosphere reverberates with peace, divinity and bliss. The ambience turns blissful and the moment, divine.

I experienced a sense of gratitude that is beyond words to express. I go back to the moments as i write this and reflect on the compassion,peace and love that i felt when i was among them. A passage by Swami Vivekananda was read out as a part of the sharing circle that reflected on our role as Traders in life,virtue,religion and love. The process of giving and taking. The desires and expectations that let us down. Insights on true giving without a sense of expectation, the virtue of detachment with the result and Acceptance were shared. A sense of whole hearted giving has to be inculcated to be able to experience true happiness and success and thus truly live. It is when you give of yourself that you truly giving without expecting anything in return. True giving is disconnected from receiving from a result. It is whole hearted giving in the form of efforts, love, compassion, dedication and surrender.

They say if you change someone's life, you're a change maker and if you save someone's life, you're a Hero! Khushroo Poacha has been and continues to be a hero to millions of lives.

It was an absolute privilege and a humbling experience to hear Khushroo Poacha share his life journey. Khushroo Poacha runs Indian Blood Donors, a site that lets blood donors and patients in need of blood connect with each other almost instantaneously.  He also does not accept cash donations The site has been live for almost ten years and with over 50,000 donors in its database, IBD is perhaps a classic example of what the Internet is truly capable of. But more importantly, it is a reflection of a single human being's desire to make a difference to this world.

It all started in the mid-'90s when Khushroo Poacha, an employee with the Indian Railways in Nagpur saw a doctor being beaten up because he couldn't save a patient's life. No one in the mob seemed to understand that it was the lack of blood that caused the death."A few years later, I witnessed the death of a welder because he couldn't get blood. The two incidents really shook me up," Poacha says, "And that was when I expressed to my wife my desire of doing something." Poacha, however, had no clue about how he could make a difference until one day, sitting in a cyber cafe with a 56 kbps connection, the idea came to him."I did not know head or toe of the Internet, let alone about domain names, but I knew this would be the tool that would make a difference," he says, explaining the dot-com extension to the site.

Over the next few months, Poacha liquidated practically all his savings,purchased a domain name and started up

"During the time, there were no companies booking or hosting web domains in India . I was paying USD 300 every three months to keep the site live and running. Meanwhile, I had spent almost Rs 40,000 in developing the site and had gone practically bankrupt," he says. Poacha says he even went to a local newspaper to place an ad. "I needed visibility and that was the only way I thought I could reach out to the people. The day the ad appeared, I was expecting a flood of registrations," he recollects. "No one registered."

The silver lining to the dark cloud came when someone from the outskirts of his hometown Nagpur contacted him, expressing interest. "It was a saving grace,"Poacha says.

Meanwhile, the dot-com bubble had burst and Poacha was being told what a fool he had been. And then there were household expenses to be taken care of too.  "There were many occasions when unpaid phone bills would be lying in the house and there would be no money to pay them off," Poacha recollects, adding that "things always have a way of sorting themselves out. And mysteriously during such times, a cheque would make its way into the mailbox." Poacha admits that his wife was quite apprehensive about his endeavour.  "But she believed in me," he says, "And that has made all the difference."

Visibility, however, was still an issue. No publication was willing to write about him. No major hospital or blood bank was interested in taking his calls. And then the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake happened. As visuals of the devastation flashed before his eyes on television, Poacha realised yet again he had to do something.

Only this time he knew just what. "I called up Zee News and requested them to flash the site's name on the ticker and they agreed." Five minutes later, the ticker was live. Ten minutes later, the site crashed."I spoke to the people who were hosting the site (by now website hosting
had started off in India) and explained to them the situation. They immediately put me on a fresh server and over the next three days or so I received some 3,500 odd registrations," Poacha recollects.

Realising the difference he had made, the 42-year-old started working on getting visibility again.  Over the next few months, Poacha had contacted every major magazine and sure enough, a few responded. "Outlook (magazine) wrote about me, then The Guardian followed," he says.

Along the way, IBD had also gone mobile. All you had to do was type out a message and send it to a short code and you'd have a list of blood donors in your inbox.As luck would have it, the service became far too popular for Poacha's pocket. "By then I had stopped taking cash donations and had to discontinue it," he says.  Interestingly, IBD is not yet registered as an NGO. "We function as individuals. We don't take donations and only accept bumper stickers (of IBD) and postage stamps to send out those stickers and create awareness," he says, "I was asked to deliver a lecture at IIM during a social entrepreneurship seminar and was asked what my sustenance model was. I replied I didn't have one. And I have been doing this for the last ten years."

Today, the database of IBD is growing at the rate of 10-15 users every day and the requests have grown from 25 to 40 per day. Poacha says he eats, drinks and breathes IBD. "The zeal I had ten years ago has not diminished and the site continuously sees innovation." The latest, Poacha tells us, is the option of being an exclusive donor to one patient.

"During my journey, I realised there were some patients who required blood every month. So if you want, we can put you onto them so you can continue making a sustained difference to one person's life." IBD is currently on an auto pilot mode and Poacha continues to keep his day job. He says, "Initially I would take the calls and personally connect the donor with the patient's relative. But I know only three languages and I'd get calls from all over India," he laughs.

Poacha recounts an incident that never left him: "A man from Chandigarh called me and told me he was desperately seeking A-ive blood for his 2-year-old. About five minutes after the call, he got the (difficult to find) blood group he needed. Soon after the surgery he called me up crying, thanking me for saving his child's life. For me, it was just another day at work. But his whole world was at stake that day. I can never forget that call."

Last year Poacha was invited to the Asian Social Entrepreneurs Summit 2008 in South Korea where venture capitalists argued that it wasn't possible to sustain an endeavour without money. He says, "I pointed out that Mother Teresa had no revenue model when she started the Missionaries of Charity. If you want to do good work, you simply do it."

He believes that a good heart and the will to make a difference is all that it takes to make a change. You don't have to be an organisation to be able to impact lives. all you need is the heart to do so.

And when you want to do from your heart, the Universe is with you. Everything falls in place,problems disappear and new opportunities surface. It is beautiful and inspirational to know how things worked for him. His wife recollects how Khushroo becomes restless when he does not get a call.  For all that adds meaning to is life and is a reason for his being is being able to help someone.

All that you need to make a difference is a heart to do so.  To give of yourself with love,compassion and dedication. It was incredibly humbling to have been in the presence of one such soul.‚Äč

Posted by Aparna Iyer on Mar 2, 2012 | permalink

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