Friday, November 25, 2005

The Banyan and Me.

For those who don't know, I did my class IX to XII at DAV senior secondary school, gopalapuram, chennai.

Our english teacher in class XI (Year : 1996) gave us an assignment: Prepare a pamphlet/flyer for 'The Banyan'. Banyan is an organization that strives for the mentally ill and destitute women. They have found a permanent home for the underprivileged and would like to invite everyone to their house warming ceremony.

Funny...It took me more than 6 years to realize that I could have done much more for The Banyan than just design the pamphlet in class...Though the full impact of what I came across didn't really hit me, there was this nagging feeling that I am conveniently ignoring something.

I passed out of my XIIth, went to REC, wrote my GRE, came to the U.S to do my masters at Univ of Wisconsin part of the Indian Graduate Student Association we had a charity clothes drive in honor of our ex president Shrikanth rao's first death anniversary.

'Banyan' rang a bell...and I volunteered to do some research on it. The more I learnt about the banyan, the more I was convinced about the wonderful work they did. Around the same time I also joined Asha and AID at UW. As I got more involved, it helped me understand how Asha and AID work. The transperancy and grass-roots approach really impressed me (Again, I had heard about Asha when in India..but, again it failed to create a full impact.)

Ironically, I came to understand more about my home only when I got away from home! The sarcasm and helplessness in making even a single effort to make a change was slowly disappearing. Rather than saying that my single act would not change anything - I learnt to say to myself that every single act of mine would not be too hard to do, but surely it would make it better than if I did not do it.

The Banyan was my inspiration to do my bit. All it required was a visit to the banyan when in chennai. I spoke to the co-ordinator, Lily. She spoke to me about the vocational training unit and the support they badly needed. I promised to do my bit. My association with Asha and AID was fruitful. After I tried presenting at Madison and later in austin, when I moved there, Asha expressed support after the rigorous project approval process.

Meanwhile, my parents and the rest of my family started to gain interest in the work of banyan too. Even quite a while back.. my aunts, grandmom and mom had organized a local clothes drive to support our efforts at Madison.

This is the brief story on how I came to know about banyan.

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