Fun, Fitness, and Fund-raising: The Three F's of Biking!

Life+Education = A Responsible Tomorrow

"No one has ever become poor by giving"

-- Anne Frank, The diary of a Young Girl

A life fulfilled, in the pursuit of ones dreams, aspirations and ideals, is a life worth remembering, a life worth wistfully reminiscing when it is time to say goodbye. For many, this means reflecting on the accepted markers of success -- wealth, fame, weekend cocktail parties, fast cars, faster lives! But for a privileged few, these dreams come in small packages, the kinds that are labeled as survival, dignity, independence, and meal. I call them privileged as they are the ones who face Life and its challenges every day, and yet emerge smiling at the end of the day, knowing that the next day will bring on its own set of challenges to face. They are the ones who witness the good, the bad, and often, the ugly, that Life has to offer; their shoulders are the ones the Life leans on when it is time to pause in this eternal battle. Theirs is a struggle that would make Sisyphus bow his head in respect!

To expect the world to change this inequality of resources overnight is, frankly, hilarious! To expect it to change in a few years is fairly optimistic (but unrealistic). I believe that it may realistically take a generation-or-two (-or-three, even), headed in the right direction, until we can start correcting the course for our society. I also believe that the best weapon of choice in this battle is not any implement wrought of iron, or carved from wood - but simply, an educated, informed mind that guides the heart into all the right places. I firmly believe in the value of objective, un-biased education that is not motivated by a religious, social, or economic agenda, but which fosters a creative pathway in the minds of young ones so that they recognize the simple fact that they are the citizens of the world, not separated by flags, or nations, or religions, but bound together by their humanity, and a simple need to build a better tomorrow, for everyone.

As a part of my commitment to this belief, we are involved in Asha for Education, a world-wide non-profit organization that encourages education at grass roots level throughout India. My wife and I raise awareness about Asha's ( the Hindi word for Hope ) projects through our biking, and other events. Personally, this endeavor has provided a perfect confluence for my passion in music, biking and education. Asha is a 100% volunteer driven organization, with chapters through out the world, working together to affect a change at the grass roots level. Please visit here for more in-depth information about Asha.

My wife took over the responsibilities of a primary steward for a project in Nandurbar, Maharashtra, called Jeevan Vidya (translated as Education for Life), since last year. The Jeevan Vidya Trust manages the facility. The goal of this project is to provide lodging and boarding to help the girls  from the nearby tribal areas, in their education. In practice, however, they go above and beyond the official mandate by also helping the girls' personality development via extra-curricular activities. As part of her responsibilities, my wife also paid a site visit to their facilities. A site visit provides an opportunity for the organization to check on their fund disbursement, as well as meet with the recipients of their contributions. Too often do we find that our lofty ideologies find ourselves far removed from the harsh realities on the ground, and a site visit is a timely and reassuring reminder of why we engage in such acts of service.

The Jeevan Vidya premises
A warm welcome
The girls are encouraged to be self-reliant - daily chores are distributed among the lodgers. A well-maintained greenhouse and gardening facility teaches the basics of farming and herb gardening (the girls come form a predominantly farming background.) The girls are also encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities, and there are a few awards that stand proudly on top of a mini-library.

Books ... and awards!

Greenhouse Effect!

Seeds of a bright future?

The facilities are maintained by a group of dedicated staff that also includes a cooking staff. A typical routine for the day involves the girls taking care of their daily chores. A unique feature of the facility is that on Sundays, the resident support staff get a "holiday" and the girls break into groups and cook the entire day's meals for everybody.

The cooking staff
Weekend breakfast, prepared by the girls!
Visits like this serve as transformative experiences, where the travel to the destination often turns into a journey, external as well as internal. We invite you to be a part of this journey, by helping us raise funds for projects like Jeevan Vidya!

Together, we can definitely bring about the change!

In gratitude,
Pushpak & Deepali