Ekatva: Oneness Show with 16 Slum Children
In his previous incarnation, :) Nimesh Patel was the founder of Karmacy (with legendary hits like Blood Brothers), ran an animation studio and even won the esteemed Emmy-equivalent for a short animation he did. Soon after, though, he went soul-searching and landed up at the Gandhi Ashram. Below is one of his early communications in July 2010. He currently blogs at: http://ekatva.blogspot.com/
Dear Loved Ones,
I wanted to send you all a quick update on life over here in Ahmedabad, India. (I'm actually back in the U.S. for a few weeks right now, but headed back soon). But before that I feel like sharing a feeling of gratitude with all of you. All for playing a small or big role in helping me grow, helping me figure out some direction in my life and helping me act, react and interact with life, both through positive and negative experiences. The journey is ongoing, but I thank you very much for laying the foundation and helping me through these 1st 31 years.
Out of the past 3 and half years, I've been living in India for three of those years. 2 years in Pune and 1 year in Ahmedabad. My path in Pune led me to a new chapter in life, where I had determined that I need to find a deeper meaning and purpose for what I do while alive and a deeper understanding of myself. So the past 6 months in ahmedabad have been the beginning of this new journey.
It has been a blessing being here in many ways. In short, the NGO (Manav Sadhna) and people that I have connected with are truly living to serve not only the underprivileged (obviously that is the heart and focus) but just serve humanity (rich or poor, good or bad). Seeing this depth of compassion, has truly been inspiring. It's been a chance for me to look within daily and keep excercising my mind and heart, trying to align to values and virtues that I find truthful and become aware of all the many misalignments I have and I have had. Although the activities that I have undertaken this year have been truly eye-opening, humbling and amazing, it has been this internal journey that has and continues to push me further along.
My daily life and duties have varied greatly to date. Including, putting together a dance/drama show and working on the next one, teaching English to slum children, helping children's and families in various ways, volunteering at a gift-economy based restaurant, bringing love and positivity to others, etc.
I'll share a few stories and relationships in brief:
Prem No Parivar (The Love of Family): Was a 2-hour dance/drama show that I coordinated, involving over 250 slum children. The show.s message was to tell 5 real life stories of children from the streets of Ahmedabad, and how their lives transformed through the values and habits they formed after being in touch with Manav Sadhna. The emotionally compelling part of the show was not only the kids re-enacting these stories through dance and drama, but actually bringing the real people, who's stories were being told and who were 5-10 years older now, on stage to share their stories and visions on life, live with the audience. There was so much joy and emotion shared in the audience. We did two shows, one for the family of all the kids and one for the general ahmedabad audience, vips, etc.Both shows ending up, in typical Indian style, being overflowed with audience members jampacked on the stairs and hallways. People leaving the show, jolted with emotion and tears.
Kamaraben & Kamleshbhai: There is this family of four, all HIV positive, who live in the nearby slum area, who, 6 months ago, were on the brink of emotional and psychological collapse. They came to Manav Sadhna out of desperation and Jayeshbhai and Anarben (two of the founders of Manav Sadhna)brought them to a place of hope and faith. Then Jayeshbhai suggested I connect with the family on a personal level to see how we can help them. I.ve spent the past 4 months with them whenever I can. Talking, going to the hospital and AIDS support centers with them, going to their home having tea and lunch with them, just being with them. Kamleshbhai, 26, who officially has AIDS, Kamaraben, 22 years old HIV positive, Roshni, 4 years old (HIV positive) and Vir, 8 months old (HIV positive). There current income ranges between 20 and 30 dollars per month. They are a strong people who many of us can find inspiration from. Unfortunately life is unpredictable, and Kamleshbhai.s life is on somewhat of an edge with his T-cell count being below 200. With his life on the edge, so is the rest of his families, because they all depend on him to make that 20-30 dollars a month to survive. I.m putting together a little video story of theirs to share with some of you. My goal is to raise a few dollars to help cover their nutrition for the next year -- perhaps for the rest of their life. But I've also told them, that if they do receive any help like this, they need to work even harder to continue to try making their living. The moment they show any complacency, that will also curb any support they receive. They are strong and they will keep pushing!
Krishna: On March 12, 2010, a few of us from Manav Sadhna took a trip to Dwarka (a favorite ancient city of Lord Krishna) and Porbandar (Gandhiji's birthplace). A few hours into the trip we took a tea break on the side of the road. Jayeshbhai (a true gandhian and co-founder of manav sadhna), actually suggested we take a u-turn and go to one of the chaiwallahs. on the other side of the road. So we did. We finished our chai and nasto and Virenbhai (an inspiring human being and other co-founder of manav sadhna) saw this cute, little, raggedy, dirty boy sweeping thefloor in the near by vicinity. Virenbhai starting talking with him. Jayeshbhai, then asked the boy if he could borrow his sweeper to sweep the floor. The boy responded "you wouldn't know how, all the dust will go up in the air." Jayeshbhai proceeded to sweep the floor with the boys direction. After some time and interaction with this boy, Nitesh, we were informed of his situation: A month and half ago, he had been dropped off on a bus from a far away city called Baroda (about 5 hours away). He was dropped on the bus with a backpack and his birth certificate. He was five years old, no family, mom had passed away of cancer, dad . drunk and criminal-not to be found anywhere, brothers and sisters not to be found, one of his sisters had been sold off by their uncle for 400 rupees, the list goes on. With Jayeshbhai and Virenbhai.s heart and spirit, they said we have to take him with us and give him a new life. We went to the police station, talked with the all right people locally and from Baroda and signed the necessary papers to take him with us. He was totally down. Because we were on our way to the holy land of Dwarka, Jayeshbhai suggested we all call him Krishna. So Krishna hopped in the car, as we waved by to all his previous care-takers on the side of the street. We got him new clothes, and just started sharing our love with him. I still remember giving him his first bath and cleaning him and trying to teach him how to take a shower. We all enjoyed our trip together with him and eventually brought him back to Ahmedabad, where he stayed with Jayeshbhai and Virenbhai for the next three months, going to Manav Sadha daily, playing with kids and learning values of love, sharing, prayer, cleaning, nutrition, etc.
With God's Grace, Jayeshbhai is also a chairman and trustee of a big School called the India First Foundation (www.indiaff.org) (an hour out of Mumbai). Jayeshbhai talked with the board to say that the school should accept and cover costs for a few underprivileged children every year. The school is one of the more expensive schools in India so only the wealthy can afford it. The school and board accepted Jayeshbhai.s proposal and Krishna was accepted to the school with all the costs for the next 10 years of his schooling being beared by the school and founder.
Jayeshbhai, Virenbhai and I went in the beginning of june to drop Krishna off to his new school. Its been pretty amazing to see Krishna grow over the past 4 months. How fluid he has been to every life situation that has been thrown at him. And will be even more amazing to see how he grows. I just went last weekend, again to visit Krishna just to see how he's doing at the school, 1 month later. He's rockin and rolling. All the kids and teachers and staff there love him! Within three weeks he's already speaking hindi (which he didn.t know at all prior to going!). He's eating well (much better than the biscuits and tea diet he was on prior to meeting him).
I'm putting a little video documentary of his story -- will update you all with that soon.
There are many more stories of experiences and human beings I have been blessed to meet, interact with and learn from. The process of serving others is endless and the journey to understand oneself is endless. Knowing this I.m trying my best to tame my ego and expectations of myself and continue moving forward with a feeling of peace and gratitude, love and joy. Gandhi-ji had a great statement that he once uttered: "Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it."
Moving forward, here in Ahmedabad, I will continue to seek and learn. Alongside this, one of the bigger projects we have embarked on is called "EKATVA" (The Spirit of Oneness). The goal is to select 14-16 children from our nearby slum area through a long audition process that we started sometime back and put together a musical/drama/dance that expresses this message of Global Oneness and Living. The show process is underway and will take up much of my time and life over the next year. The goal is to produce this show and then take the show on tour around the world (maybe US and UK) or wherever God wants it to be seen. There are a lot of hurdles I'm sure we'll face along the way, so without expectations, I hope to just flow and see what happens.
We are all on so very unique paths. I wish upon all of us that we are able to find joy and peace along the way. Whatever it is we do. Whether we are executives, artists, social workers, engineers, wanderers, employees, bosses, doctors, autorepairsmen, rich, poor, mothers, fathers, single, whatever it is. I wish up on you joy and peace. Contentment and good health. Love and a desire to help your neighbor. Kindness and GRATITUDE for all that you may have.
With lots of love and positive wishes for us, for the world,