Support for Charity should come from the Heart – and should not be used for blackmailing – 19 Jul 12

Yesterday I mentioned that many sponsors and donors support our project. It is wonderful to get their help and we are very thankful to them. Anybody who wants to help can give a donation of any amount. Another option is to sponsor the food for a day for the children. And the third option is to sponsor a child and thus sponsor his or her education, books and everything this child needs to learn in our school. The concept of these child sponsorships sounds easy – but the question is again and again how much we can do for our child sponsors. And how much we really have to do.

As we are only a small charity organization and want to give as much to the children as possible, we avoid big expenses that other, big charities can do. We don’t print a magazine and send it to our sponsors for example. Instead, you can read everything about us and our school on our website. We don’t sent mail by post either, which would cost us lots of postal charges because we have sponsors from all over the world. Instead, we send emails.

We give sponsors the possibility to send letters to the class in which they are sponsoring a child. We read out the letter to them and reply together. Our concept is not to tell the individual child it is sponsored so that no other child feels bad that he or she is not sponsored. They should have the feeling of being all equal. But we encourage all our sponsors to come here, to visit the Ashram, to sit with the children in the school and to really see the project they are supporting.

Additionally, because we are a small organization, we can have individual contact with every sponsor. While we don’t send out the ‘annual report’ that we have heard other organizations do, every of our sponsors is always welcome to send an email to inquire about the children and how they are. We have however one request: please don’t use this friendly correspondence to blackmail us!

Recently Ramona was in touch with a person who had a lot of questions about our project. As usual, Ramona was happy to reply and when she had explained that emails are always welcome, the person became a child sponsor, giving the first of the monthly donations.

Some time later, another mail came with a more personal question, about one of the blog posts I had written. Ramona also replied that email. Another answer came, with a row of questions to me, all about philosophical topics that need a certain time to reply properly – and which sometimes are best replied in another blog post. Moreover there were questions about this person’s private life and problems, too. When we did not send a reply within two days, simply because we were busy, the sponsor got upset and requested to know whether we were serious at all and if we really wanted him to keep on sponsoring a child.

You can imagine what kind of impression this gave us. Being busy with a business to run, a charity to look after and additionally a daughter of just a few months, we had not replied one of the many emails we get for two days – and a sponsor threatens to discontinue his sponsorship!

We told him in very nice words that we would only like to have support for the children if it comes from the heart. We told that we are always busy and try to do our best to reply all emails but that we might sometimes get late or forget one. This should however not be a reason to stop helping a child’s education!

We always love to help everyone who writes to us, be that a sponsor or not. But please, if you want to support a child, please do it from your heart and with your free wish and not with such a condition that makes us stressed and gives us pressure. We do our work from our heart, please also support with your heart.

Thank you.

Equal Treatment in Education for poor Boys and Girls – 4 Apr 11

In the last week I was writing about dowry and the problems that it creates. I even told that we were asked to collect money for poor girls’ dowry. I would also like to address another point which was mentioned in that mail: we should have a school only for girls so that more girls have better chances in life.

It is not fully new to me that donors and sponsors have the wish to support girls. You know that we give those who want to support our project the possibility to sponsor a child of our school. Often people who take a child sponsorship choose a girl to sponsor. Other people send us an email and ask us to choose a child for them, but it should be a girl.

Of course people have in mind, that in India, girls still need a lot of help. In the last week I have mentioned many reasons why boys are preferred by parents and of course the literacy rate of men is also still higher than that of women. More boys go to school than girls and much more men have jobs and higher jobs than women.

In spite of all these reasons to support girls however, I need to ask another question: why should we not support poor boys, too? What will happen to the boys of those poor families? Should they not get support? Should they not learn how to read and write while their sisters go to school?

We are making a point about equality in our school. We don’t want children with more money to be preferred and children with less money to have a disadvantage. So why would we make such a difference of gender? Our children are all supported in the same way and the boys need the same support! Only supporting girls would be discrimination against boys! Boys need support, too, and that is how we don’t make a difference of gender here. Boys and girls equally need and get support. They are treated equally and in my opinion this is how it should be.

Of course we sometimes need to do more effort to convince parents to send their girls, too, however we would not charge more money for that sponsorship, either. They are equal. Sponsors and helpers donate out of love and love is there for all of God’s children.

Our Philosophy of Charity – 2 Mar 11

Yesterday someone asked, in response to my diary entry, in which way we and our charity organization are different from those gurus or organizations that collect money for themselves, showing off a little bit of charity to make people believe they are charitable while they have millions in their own pocket. I thought answering this question would be worth a diary entry today.

I actually see my idea of charity closer to Bill Gates’ idea than to any guru’s idea. Unfortunately I don’t have Bill Gates’ funds to help us run the school but whatever we have and whatever we do is for these children.

You all know that I left every religion and tradition behind and that I don’t go to preach the scriptures anywhere. When I left religion, I decided that only love should be my God and that one of the best ways to serve this God would be to help children. I had been doing charity for a long time already and I decided to give more to these children.

We, my family and I started sponsoring more and more children in schools in Vrindavan and a dream started to grow in my mind. I had the wish to open a school myself. In this school all children should be equal and none should be able to tease any other child because they did not have the money to pay for school themselves.

Most importantly, no child should be beaten or in any other way physically punished.
In 2006 my sister died in a car accident. Obviously this was a blow to my family. In the following year we decided together to use the money that she had saved for buying another property, one on which we would start our school. In 2007 we opened a Kindergarten and in 2008 could extend it to a Primary School and both were free of any cost for poor children of the neighbourhood. By now we have two Kindergarten classes and four school classes.

Of course we started asking people to donate and support our projects. One can sponsor a child, sponsor the food or simply make a donation to our charity organization, here in India or the one we founded in Germany. I am very thankful to everyone who helped us in this way. All the support that we get however would by itself not be enough to run the whole school. It needs my support and the support of my family.

This is what we are working for. When I travel anywhere and give meditations or workshops, when my youngest brother Yashendu teaches yoga and Ayurvedic cooking and my wife Ramona translates what we say or writes it down for the website, we do it also for these children. My second brother Purnendu is even more directly involved, managing the teachers, all employees in India and taking care of the Ashram, the food, the school supplies and more. My parents and even my grandmother do what they can to support these projects. I am truly happy and very proud that my whole family is working for this goal and that all find their happiness in the aim of helping children.

Every activity at the Ashram also serves this purpose. We are happy that people come here and can relax and enjoy. They spend weeks here in this beautiful place on Ayurveda Yoga Holidays and Yoga Teacher Trainings and thus have a benefit for themselves as well as they support our projects. They can directly see where they help: the children are just here!

You see, we started the business because we want to do charity. Those rich gurus who I was talking about started charity because they had to present a reason to the public why they need more money. We work to provide as much as we can to these children.

If anybody has a doubt, just have a look into my life, my home and my heart. It is an open book for everyone. Even if someone would like to have a look into my bank account, he could because there are no millions to hide.

Maybe now you can understand that I see myself closer to Bill Gates’ thinking than to the thinking of any of those gurus. I like to work and earn more money so that I can support these children and we, my complete family and I, do this with our whole hearts.

Sponsor a Child or Sponsor Food as a Christmas Present – 13 Dec 10

Ramona and I are at the moment in Germany, working and enjoying the time before Christmas with friends. Yashendu is in Taiwan, busy giving Yoga workshops and we all are looking forward to go to India next week, back to the Ashram to celebrate Christmas there. This year we will not only celebrate Christmas but also the 10th anniversary of the day that I came out of the cave after three years and 108 days. We are happy that we can welcome several friends in India to enjoy the day with them.

You, too, are probably preparing for the holidays, decorating the house and buying gifts for friends and family. Also in this year I want to give you a special idea for a Christmas present for yourself or your loved ones. Simply sponsor a child or sponsor food for 150 poor children!

We have been working for more than a year to prepare a new system for our school children and sponsors. Now we are very happy to announce that it is finally ready. On our whole website you can now see how many children are un-sponsored and how many days are still free for sponsoring food:

"Sponsor

You see that you can look for yourself, how much support is needed and it is very easy to become part of our school and Ashram family. With this new system you can see the teachers, the Ashram staff and the children who already found sponsors like you. If, after seeing them online, you would like to see our Ashram and projects personally, you are most welcome!

It is only possible for us to run all these projects for children because we have the support of friends and sponsors from around the globe. I am always very thankful to all sponsors and am happy to send a personal Mantra to each new sponsor as a gift for their support which is a big present to us and the children.

And isn’t it a great Christmas present to yourself or others: giving a child the possibility to learn reading, writing and more for a better future or feeding 150 children?

Shiva was Swept Away by the Flood – 21 Sep 10

Yesterday I told you already about the current situation of floods in India and that it is raining nearly everywhere. Our friend Thomas, who of course knows about our work and how urgently we need support in these times, gave a charity concert to raise funds for the people affected by the flood. He gave the concert in the vegetarian restaurant ‘Zimt & Koriander’ in Wiesbaden where the owner Pawan has also set up a donation box that always supports the food of the children. Thomas played the sitar and told some stories of Vrindavan. People could read about our school and they could donate for our flood relief fund. We are very happy about this kind of effort of our friends and thank everybody involved to raise money!

We would love to be able to say that the situation is getting better but unfortunately it is not. And in our whole state it is raining. You do not need to be an expert to predict that if it keeps on raining as it has been since Saturday, the water will just keep on rising and it will get more and more dangerous. The water level has crossed the danger mark a long time ago. In our state 200 villages are affected by flood and 83 people died in our state alone. The highway from Delhi to Haridwar is closed as water is flowing on the street. You turn on the news or look into the newspaper and you get reports of water everywhere.

Some of you may have been to Rishikesh on a journey to India. If so, you have probably seen the big Shiva statue which was standing in the Ganga, about 15 feet over the water level. Sunday night the water rose until its shoulders and last night the whole Shiva statue was swept away. It is amazing to think how much water is everywhere!

In Vrindavan people are still worried and waiting for more water to come. It has been announced that one dam further up the river has released more water than it ever has in the last 100 years. All this water will arrive here in two to three days and the levels will rise again. The mother of Sanju, one of the boys who live at the Ashram, visited us here today and told that the Ashram in which she and many other families have found shelter is in danger of being flooded, too, if the water will rise much higher. We of course offered that she can come and live here, if that happens. We will keep you updated on what we are doing to help those people there. Please keep up your support by spreading the word!

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Updates on Flood Relief in Vrindavan – 6 Sep 10

I already announced that we would make a list of those who donated for our flood help. We have been quite busy in the last days but now finally found some time to make it. Here you can see the list of who contributed what and a summary of what we could do with the support that you gave. Again, if you have donated and do not see your name on the list, please let us know and excuse our mistake. We have been very busy and may have missed something but we will immediately correct it once you let us know.

In this kind of times everybody should support in their capacity and I am very happy to know that we received donation and support even from people whom I do not know personally. These are people whom I have never met but we are connected through the internet and the diary. I would love to meet you some day in person. Maybe you would like to invite us someday, I will be happy to come and of course I want to invite you to the Ashram so that we can get to know each other.

You who read my diary already know what was going on in the last days in the flooded area and what we did there, distributing food and clothes and providing medical help. Further we have the wish to help with repairing the houses which are breaking because of moisture. People do not have the money for reparation work themselves but the situation of many houses is simply dangerous.

I have noticed many of you think that there will be much money needed to help, what difference would my small contribution make? On the list that we published you can see that with all many small drops, a big pot can be filled. Small contributions also make a difference! I want to ask you please not to be shy. Even if you can only contribute 10 or 20 Euro, please do it, it helps us help others! You can see that we did not receive millions but the amount we received went a long way in helping many people. We are a small organization but we know where the problems are and how we can help, because we are just here in person, ready to start helping as soon as we get your support. If everybody who reads this diary just gives a contribution of a few Euro, it will be an immense help!

See updated pictures of the flooded area and videos of our work there.

 

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Water Retreats but Problems Remain – 3 Sep 10

You have probably read my letter to Krishna yesterday and he also seems to have read it. When our team arrived with food in the colonies yesterday, they were happy to see that the water level has gone down approximately two feet. They still had to go by boat, the water is still everywhere and pretty high in the streets but there is a possibility that the flood of this year is over. But of course it all depends on how much it rains and if they release water from the dams in Delhi, the water may rise here, again. It is still above danger level, let’s see.

Of course we will just hope that the people there will have peace for this year! However with the water retreating there are still many problems that they have to cope with. If you go to this area, you will notice one thing nearly immediately: there are hundreds and thousands of mosquitos. They have lots of warm and cozy, muddy and dirty places now where they can breed. The water may slowly retreat but in the streets and houses there is now mud and dampness. It is hot and humid.

This unfortunately is the perfect environment for diseases to spread. Monsoon time is anyway the time when people get fever more easily and the flood made this situation only worse. Hygiene is more difficult, mud is everywhere and it is hot so that you sweat nearly constantly. This is how we decided to go to the area tomorrow with one or two doctors who will straight away bring the most common medicine for this season, make examinations on spot, prescribe medicine and give it to them so that they get better.

We are happy that we are able to help in this way. I want to thank the donors again and especially thank two of my young friends, Ravael and Celina, 14 and 13 years old, who have contributed with 10 and 25 Euro, too. With their pocket money we can now feed children of their age. A big thank you to everybody again, we will soon publish all details of the donations we received and for which purpose they were used. Please keep your support coming, there is still lots to do!

Pictures of yesterday's food distribution

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Flood in Vrindavan on Krishnas Birthday – 1 Sep 10

Today is Janmashtami, Krishna’s birthday, a day that is celebrated especially in this region where Krishna was born. Many people make a pilgrimage to Vrindavan on this day which is why the inner city is very crowded. The Parikrama Marg however, the pilgrimage walk around the city is unusually empty today on this festive occasion. It seems like many people did not want to walk the way because of the water that has also crossed the pilgrimage walk at some points.

In the Hindu scriptures it is also mentioned that on the day when Krishna was born, the Yamuna had burst its banks. So it is the time of flood and everybody is hoping that the water will retreat now after this day so that people can return to their homes, start rebuilding, cleaning up and eventually get their lives back to normal again.

Unfortunately it does not look like it will be better very soon. Monsoon rains can come anytime and after a short shower yesterday, the rain was pouring down today for more than an hour. We can only imagine how the colonies must look like now. The roofs, which have been their living rooms and bed rooms for the last week, must be wet now, too.

I want to thank all of those who have donated today, too, and ask everybody to also tell friends and family about the situation here. Many of you have already been here and all of you can see the videos and the immediate help that we can provide with your donations. Spread the word and we will be able to help more!

Pictures of the flood

 

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Video Download from Jaisiyaram.com
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Food Camp in Flood Affected Area – 31 Aug 10

As we had been planning, Purnendu, Yashendu and Ramona went with altogether 20 people and brought big pots, gas for cooking and food to the area where the houses are flooded. We know a man who has an Ashram there and as it has two floors and lies a bit higher, it is one of the few buildings in which the water has not entered yet. This is where the kitchen was set up. They left around two o’clock and came back at six.

When they came back, Ramona told me about the situation there:

“It has become even worse. We had difficulties finding a place to park the car somewhere close to the boat that now takes people to their homes. Where there were cars and rickshaws before, everybody now has to wait until this one boat has unloaded everybody and is empty for them to climb on.

For reaching to our ‘food camp’ we had to walk through knee-high water and people had marked a way with bricks in the water to make it a bit easier to walk. When we reached there, we saw a woman standing in the door and crying. She showed us her house which was standing in the water, big cracks in the walls and already starting to fall apart.

Many people had already gathered in the Ashram with the hope to get food. They had to wait until the vegetables were cooked and the bread was ready but then they all came with pots, plates, bowls, glasses and even plastic bags to fill the food in. We saw that some children came two or three times but who would tell a child of three or four years that it should not ask for more bread? We also know that some people took more so that they can put some food aside for later. They are not sure when they will get the next meal. So we distributed and distributed until the buckets were empty.

On the way back we went by the children’s houses and saw that also there, the situation has become worse. Those rooms which were dry two days ago also have water on the floor now. Sanju, one of the boys, wanted to go home and stay with his mother. But she told him to go back to the Ashram, at this area there are too many mosquitos now and life has become difficult. It was a long day but it is wonderful that we could help!”

We also asked the owner of the Ashram and he agreed on keeping even more families there who need a dry place to sleep.

I want to thank everybody who donated after yesterday’s newsletter and diary! It is only with this help that we could go there today and give these people food! We will publish the donors’ details on a later day, at the moment we are just very busy helping and thinking of ways that we can support those families. And thank you for the mails with best wishes for the children, their families and all people in the area.

I was surprised today that some people who have always been talking about their love to Vrindavan and our school children did not give any sign of compassion. I would have thought to receive a donation from these people first but even if not a donation, then at least a few words telling that they are sending prayers and good wishes. This is a critical time and we would wish to have everybody on our sides with their support, thoughts and blessings.

Anyhow, my thanks again to everybody who already helped and everybody who is going to in the next days!

Pictures of today’s food camp and new pictures of the flood situation in Vrindavan

 

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Help Flood Victims in Vrindavan – 30 Aug 10

I told you yesterday already that the situation of the flood in Vrindavan is worse now than it has been two years ago, when we also went to help by distributing food in the affected areas.

Yesterday a team of the Ashram led by Purnendu, Yashendu and Ramona went to distribute food packages in the affected area where many of our school children live. However the food packages were not enough for everybody and we decided that we want to help more, especially when we saw that the water has entered in all houses and that people are living on their roofs now.

We have offered the families of our school children to come and live at the Ashram as their sons are already with us. However they are afraid that their belongings could be stolen. They want to stay there but they do not have any kitchen anymore to cook in. Where will they cook their food and what will they eat?

They cannot take our offer to stay at the Ashram and so we offered that they can send each day one family member to the Ashram where we will have a big lunch packet for the whole family ready. They can take the packets with them and feed their families.

This is the immediate help that we can give them until the day when they can use their kitchens again. However we know that once the water will stop flowing, there will be another problem: the water will be stuck in the streets, mosquitos will start coming and the first diseases will start spreading. We are planning to give medical help to those who need it to avoid that the diseases get worse and take lives.

So these are our plans for now and what is possible for us. However if we get support from you in the form of donations, we can also help more, for example make a food camp in the flooded area and distribute more food for them and maybe even help with fixing these people’s houses when the water is gone. There will be lots of work to do, cracks have to be fixed and houses have to be dried so that people can live there again.

As I mentioned, we already helped in 2008 but this year it is worse. When we sent out a newsletter asking for support two years ago, one person responded we should not say Vrindavan was flooded as the areas affected are built on land that was not approved by government and thus illegal. We replied that even though these houses may be built there illegally, the people who live there are not, they are in an emergency situation! They are people who need help, no matter if they built their houses on the right or wrong place!

I also know that you are these days asked for support from many different areas of the world, be it in Pakistan, China or Africa and we will be just one more organization that asks for a donation for doing good work. However we are a small organization and we will be able to show you directly where your donation went and helped. We will update our website with pictures and videos directly. We do not have any other high costs either because we are just here, on the spot and ready to help as soon as we get your support.

I want to ask you to please support us in our task to support these flood victims. We want to feed them in these difficult times, take care of their health and of their children and rebuild their homes once the water has left the area. Please help us with your generous donation. You can donate here.

As always each Penny and each Cent helps! And naturally, the more support we will get, the more support we will be able to give. Our organization has a tax-exempt status and you will receive a donation receipt for every donation. If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact me by sending a mail to info@jaisiyaram.com

Please also ask your friends and family to contribute their help, too.
Thank you already in advance for your help, I know these people will send you their blessings!

See pictures of yesterday’s food distribution and how the situation is now in the flooded area.

 

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Video Download from Jaisiyaram.com
Flood in Vrindavan 26 August 2010