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Ashima Goyal Siraj's Blog Posts

  Beyond fear lies freedom

I’ve experienced that my mind is a very fearful master and my heart is not strong enough to overcome the commands of this master. I always been taught to err on the side of caution and I am a good follower. Fear protects us from hurt; you don’t know what dangers lie on the other side. For two years, I have practically nourished this fear until a simple moment last week completely liberated me. This post is about that one moment. Two years ago, we moved to Luanda, Angola. It’... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Aug 14, 2016 | permalink

  The highs and lows of volunteering in Luanda, Angola

Today it’s exactly 20 months since I first landed in Luanda. It’s almost like yesterday. How excited and anxious I was. This was the first time, I was moving to a country of which I had no clue. In my “we shall cross the bridge when it comes” attitude, I didn’t even read a lot about living in Angola or what am I going to do in Angola. I was just excited to be in Africa. It took about a month to get a place and get a basic set up going in terms of a home and then ... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Aug 11, 2015 | permalink

  Esperança- Hope on the street

Hope is the only word that comes to me when I recollect what was it that I saw today. This morning I went to a public park in the middle of Luanda city. Something tells me it must have been a great place long time back.. there is a broken popcorn machine, some beaten benches, a taped fridge. It must have been a place where kids played, people came for walks and just sit together and chat in the evening. But now the usual scene at the independence park in the morning is children and youth lying ... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Apr 4, 2015 | permalink

  Feito com Amor

It started at a morning tea session, when a friend of mine said “For Christmas, I want to make a nice gift bag for the ladies with dry food items like rice, milk powder, oil and some sweets” The ladies here are the patients of a local maternity hospital. Every two weeks, my friend makes 100 sandwiches and goes to the maternity hospital to feed the ladies waiting for their labour and their families who all wait and live outside the hospital on the road for days. I started thinking... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Feb 3, 2015 | permalink

  Being Palanca

Palanca is an endangered species of the Angolan wildlife but it is more than just that. It’s a national symbol that represents – Peace, Tolerance, Unity, Self-esteem and preservation of biodiversity. About a year ago, the foundation brought together 10 known artists who gave a blank wooden palanca their expression of these values. The exhibition, called ‘Being Palanca’ ( ‘ser Palanca’ in Portuguese), served to raise awareness among the Angolan people about th... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Sep 1, 2014 | permalink


Couldn’t help but share this beautiful story Idgah by Munshi Premchand today on Eid. A beautiful story of love, kindness and sacrifice on the festival which is marked by these beautiful emotions! Hamid, 4 years of age, is a very poor boy. He lives with his dadi(grandmother) Amina. Hamid lost his parents when he was an infant. His aged grandmother, Amina, fulfills their daily needs by doing needle work for others. His Dadi has told him that very soon his father and mother will return hom... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Jul 29, 2014 | permalink

  On a blind date...

I felt like I was going on a blind date. It had been two months since I moved to Angola and after spreading the word out that I was looking for a volunteering opportunity in luanda; one fine day; I get an email from a neighbour with an email address: “Hey I heard someone mention about an organisation in the city over coffee and I thought you might be interested. This is their email address:”   I had no idea of what they did but I found their website... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on May 4, 2014 | permalink

  Just another story…

“What are stories but a way of helping us see the world and each other better.” I heard this in one of Pavi’s talk on giftivism and was amazed by the simplicity yet the deep meaning of it  I was part of one such story telling session (it was actually a class on upnishads at Shivananda ashram). When I was going for the class, I was a little apprehensive. I thought it will all be in Sanskrit and most is going to go over my head! But I still went because a friend had asked ... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Dec 17, 2013 | permalink

  Volunteering: Lost in Definitions?

Last weekend when I was volunteering with children in an aparment complex in Indore my sister had asked me “But these are not under-privileged kids; why do you wish to volunteer with them?”. That time I had responded by saying “does a tree ever choose whom it wants to give its fruits to? It doesn’t differentiate between people. It serves everyone the same way.” (I remember my friend, Madhu, once saying that to someone and it had stayed with me ever since.)... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Dec 3, 2013 | permalink

  Souls Connected by Service

17th October 2013; 7am; kotma, Uttarakhand Gopal kaka is 88. Joseph ji is 45. One lives in Ahemedabad, the other is a seeker and a wanderer. They have never met. Yet I felt a beautiful link between them. This post is about that. Almost a year ago, few sadhaks from Ahmedabad went on a journey to Narmada. As they were walking on the road, one girl noticed that Gopal kaka would keep bending down, very frequently. On a closer look she saw he was picking up stones and throwing them on... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Oct 15, 2013 | permalink

  Serving in Uttarakhand

3rd October 2013; 1433 hrs; village Kotma, Uttarakhand Am I really serving? This is the question I have come to ask myself repeatedly in the last few days. In July, when I had this urge to come and ‘serve’ in Uttarakhand, I had little idea what I would or rather could do. But I knew I had two hands and I would be able to contribute in some way. Finally I came here last month, and since then I have been visiting villages, meeting some very amazing people, listening to them&nb... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Oct 12, 2013 | permalink

  Stories that Travel

I was in a fix while coming up with a title for this post… should it be about storytelling or should it be about random acts of kindness? What follows is a beautiful account of both. But what amazed me most was how one act crossed cities, countries and continents just by telling a story about it! And hence “the stories that travel…” In 2010, Robyn Bomar celebrated her 38th birthday with 38 random acts of kindness in Florida, US. Simple acts like returning grocery ... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Sep 21, 2013 | permalink

  Meet Omkaar - a gift economy astronomer

As part of our preparation to leave India and move to Africa, we took a road trip in India. A last outing – just the three of us – me, my husband and our car. We had no agenda; we had no set destination for the day. We left ourselves open to experience what came our way. A week on narrow lanes going through forests and remote villages along India’s western coastline. It’s amazing how the road teaches us kindness in so many ways… We waved at village kid... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Sep 3, 2013 | permalink

  Kirtibhai's Generosity at the June Retreat

When I first met Kirti, I felt that I knew him from before. All I had heard is that he is this thin little boy who was always enthusiastic and always smiling. I saw him in a crowd and I knew this must be him and instantly we talked and we were both smiling and sharing stories. Just like brother and sister meeting after a long time! He was participating in the Moved By Love June retreat where I was volunteering. He was walking around with his smile deck, striking conversations with people and ... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Aug 2, 2013 | permalink

  An Experiment in Trust

25 years ago, my home was said to be in the outskirts of a city. It was on a highway with a Km. No. 14 milestone right outside the house and that exactly was our address – Km. No. 14; Tonk Road; Jaipur. City buses didn’t come till Km. No. 14. The last stop was about 1.5 kms away from our home so every morning and afternoon me and didi(my elder sister) would walk those 1.5 kms both ways while going to the school and coming back from the school. Mornings were fine, our mom used t... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Jul 10, 2013 | permalink

  Letters to Strangers

It’s amazing how an idea transforms into action. And before that it’s amazing how ideas come into being. I was reading an article on Daily Good on how to change the world in hot cocoa and Neruda by Hannah Brencher. The article led me to her website – The world needs more love letters. And that was it. I read and read and devoured the website with stories of people who have received the letters written by strangers and people who have written them! Sometimes al... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on May 30, 2013 | permalink

  Kindness with Smile Decks

A SMILE card is a gift from someone who received it before you. Since it’s an anonymous gift, you cannot pay anyone back; but you can ‘pay-it-forward’ to allow future recipients to experience the same generosity. I’ve been tagged  I got my first smile card almost a year back and it took me nearly 6 months to pass it on. One of the biggest reasons for it taking so long was that I was shy. I was thinking people might not take it in the rig... read full story

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on May 1, 2013 | permalink