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butterfly3Today, I got an awesome email.

A year ago, my good friend, Sandra from North Carolina, was down with advanced breast cancer – her estimated chances of survival were almost none.

With the help of some friends, we created a care package for her from across the country. At UC Berkeley campus, where she attended, we created a large mandala out of chalk, and printed out hundreds of butterflies, which we had random people color and write messages of hope for her.

I had planned to mail these to her, but as word of this story started leaking out, an anonymous gift came to me in the form of plane tickets to North Carolina. This was quickly followed by another anonymous gift of a rental car, and a few offers of places to stay while in North Carolina. It was a truly miraculous event where so many people came together in the truest spirit of kindness and giving – all pouring their hearts, prayers, and good wishes to this one young woman, who they had never even met.

I then had the good fortune of visiting her and attaching these hundreds of beautifully colored butterflies on her ceiling to help lift her spirit.  [Check out the full story].  I think it helped a little as in her email today, she is now 13 months cancer-free!

butterfly_1Not only is Sandra recovering, but she is now using her reclaimed life to help lift spirits all around.  In Sandra’s words, “the butterflies of hope, of love, of kindness, of fun are taking off from all corners of the Americas.” From North Carolina, Costa Rica, and Los Angeles, school kids and others are making butterflies to give to cancer patients and others in their communities in need of a little dose of kindness.

Sandra’s sights are now focused on New Orleans. If you’d like to work together with Sandra, let me know.

If you’d like to send butterflies to anyone to pick up their spirits, you can download the following template (PDF).  Print it, photocopy it, cut out the butterflies, and have people color them and write messages on the backs.  It’s such a priceless activity to do… and gift to receive.

You’re awesome, Sandra!

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The following story includes the mention of a rickshaw driver who’s life took a major u-turn before our eyes. At the end of the outing, I realized this would make a superb blog donation (I’ll tell you who you are), and gave him a generous 500 rupees — to make him feel extra special about the day, and because it was so worth it. For just about $12, one man entered a space that would forever change his life. Through his transformation, he taught us a radical lesson in the power of forgiveness and the value of reaching in to make connections, even at times when it seems counter-intuitive, or even impossible.

Vishnu clearly seemed like he was planted there by universal forces, and fortunately, we were attentive enough to pick it out. Here is a quick story of this most amazing day…

Read the rest of this entry »

cardpakistanMark and I are soon heading off to Pakistan. On Sunday, August 7th, we will meet with the school children from Manav Sadhna at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad and they will make cards – with love – to give to children in Pakistan. Many schools throughout Ahmedabad will also be participating and we hope to gather hundreds or thousands of cards in the next few days. It’s possible we will also be able to collect more from the school children in Delhi. Whether we get 10 cards or 10,000 – the number really doesn’t matter. What does matter though is that for each and every child who sits down and writes from their heart to another child in a place where there are perceived tensions, an internal connection will be made, and a seed of hope for a harmonious future will be planted. Because of this, the more cards the better.

The plan is for us to then take these cards with us to Pakistan, visit some schools, and hand deliver them to the kids there.  Our time happens to coincide with Pakistani Independence Day on August 14th and Indian Independence Day on August 15th.  Perhaps we will even get some cards from the Pakistani kids to take back with us. In the process, we get to interact with a ton of great kids from both countries.

We are also opening this invitation to kids (or anyone) in America (or anywhere). We are leaving super soon, so we can do this in two rounds:

  • Round One (immediately, via email only) – These letters we can take with us now – make a card, scan it (sized 100k or less), and attach it in an email to me. Simple emails won’t be as colorful, but will also suffice. We will print out these emails and bring them with us. Go ahead and get your neighbors and cousins to send cards as well, and extra credit if you can get whole classes or schools to participate.
  • Round Two (ongoing) – You can continue to send us scanned cards, emails (as above), or better yet, mail the cards to India! Send them:

To Pakistan with LOVE!
Care of: Manav Sadhna

Gandhi Ashram (Sabarmati)
Ahmedabad, Gujarat
India

The key, of course, is that these messages genuinely come from the heart. There is a lot of political tension and misinformation that occurs, and the intention here is to transcend barriers and bridge human hearts. This is the greatest hope for a peaceful tomorrow (and today).

lovemonaSometimes we put our care into something and then move on. We are not always aware of the repercussions of our actions, nor the trail of changes they move to effect. In some cases, our efforts may fall apart and in other cases these seeds may take root and thrive.

Sadly for me, Loveleen has returned to the US for now, but I get the opportunity to witness the effects that her presence here has brought – something she is not able to see.

streetschool01In the first case, she attended a budding street school initiated by Indicorps to teach kids who would otherwise never attend. Loveleen saw how the kids were learning numbers and letters, but had nothing to take home with them to help them study and remember what they had learnt. On her own, she went out and bought notebooks and pens for all the kids. It was a hit. A blog donor who made the request to help supply children with educational materials has the merit of gifting these kids with these supplies (15 notebooks, 15 pens – $5.50 – I’ll tell you who you are). The school has expanded from just a few kids to 50 on certain days and Indicorps is now buying notebooks and pens for the new kids as well. Loveleen also was able to acquire a big stack of educational books for the kids at no cost.

Another profound event occurred last night as a result of her compassion. There are many dogs here in Ahmedabad in very bad condition. One in particular melted our hearts. Her intestines were hanging out from her backside. She was skeletal thin and was timidly scrounging for food. Over the course of a week, we were able to trace her patterns and found out that she came around to a particular spot at 8:30 every night. Beautifully, we found that it was because a woman vendor selling cooked corn would feed her corn each night and had built a trusting relationship. Loveleen worked hard while she was here to have this dog, who she named Mira, picked up for surgery, but it was challenging to arrange.

cornwoman02I continued to visit Mira and was touched when this timid dog would stop eating her scant portions of food to receive love instead – for as long as I would pet her. Dogs here can be very territorial and merciless to one another. I can only imagine the suffering that Mira must have gone through and continues to endure each and every day.

Finally, it was arranged last night for her to be picked up. Bhaviksha from Animal Help Foundation arrived at 8:30 to drive her 30 km to their facility. She looked worse than ever before, with fresh intestines exposed, now even skinnier, and with legs perhaps newly misshapen. Mira was as sweet as a dog can be, having, what seemed to me, achieved a level of grace through her difficult life. She entered Bhaviksha’s car without struggle and was taken away to a very unknown future.

The vendor was filled with tears. Mira had become an outlet for her to express her compassionate love and she had surrendered that priceless connection out of an even greater benevolence. The moment was really moving. Mark and I were both affected and I held back tears for hours afterwards.

We don’t know for certain how Mira will respond to surgery. There is a chance that she may not survive. Whatever the outcome, it is her destiny now to move on. Thank you, Love, for reaching in and allowing us all to participate in something so beautiful. Just so you know, the seeds of care that you planted here have indeed taken root and are growing.

If you would like to be a part of this adventure in service, click here.

swamishantanand_1I missed several opportunities and was never able to meet Swami Shantanand – the inspiration behind the Temple of Fine Arts and the evolutionary restaurant called Annalakshmi. Early this morning, Swami Shantanand passed away in Coimbatore, India, attaining what is known as mahasamadhi. Although he is no longer with us, his inspiration is only beginning to unfold.

It’s ironic to me that he passed away on the very same day that I feel a very special idea was conceived – something ultimately inspired by him. Yesterday, I proposed to Anarbhen and Jayeshbhai, two founders of Manav Sadhna, that we open a Seva Café based on Annalakshmi’s model – “eat what you want, pay as you wish.” The intention behind the café is many-fold. For one, it is a bold leap of faith into a new paradigm of service. Manav Sadhna is already feeding over 7000 people a day without charge. The restaurant model is a very different one, but the effort would have great value in expanding this same spirit of selfless seva out into the greater society. Naturally, there is much work and many expenses involved in such an undertaking, but the leap of faith is in offering it all as a genuine gift, and trusting that if it is pure enough, people will ensure its survival.

Secondly, the café can also serve as a place of inspiration and nourishment, where people can meet, eat healthy, wholesome food (hard for us to find here), get inspired, and move to act in more and more selfless ways. Such a place doesn’t really exist here, nor most anywhere. It can also serve as a place for valuable community events.

gramshreeThirdly, Manav Sadhna’s sister organization called Gramshree has already rented out a prime location on C.G. Rd. – a main commercial strip – to sell various goods and handicrafts specifically to empower and support tribal women and artisans. It is a bold undertaking on their part, and the café would share the same space, mutually supporting one another in fostering a value-rich environment.

I was able to tour the space yesterday, and immediately – with Jayeshbhai and Anarbhen’s excited interest – this new plan was officially set into motion. We intend to open this café with money from our own pockets and largely with labor offered freely with love. It will also likely provide some valuable employment to a few core people. It will be founded on the purest of motives – not based on any belief system, but simply on the simple trust in love and in selfless service.

For anyone interested in stepping out of their current life pattern and into a meaningful life adventure, please seriously think about coming here and giving yourself to help make this dream a reality. Here, you will find an amazingly supportive community. If you speak Gujarati or Hindi, that is a definite plus, but I don’t and it hasn’t stopped me. :)

For anyone interested, please contact me. Or if you know anyone who may have interest, then please pass this along to them. You can send them to this link: http://silentswan.blogs.com/madlove/2005/07/seva_caf.html

Swami Shantanand, your inspiration and light has found its way to Ahmedabad. With gratitude for your contribution to our collective evolution, may you rest in peace.

I went along with Jayeshbhai to the Amul Dairy Headquarters in the city of Anand, as part of my enquiry into the way cows are treated in Ahmedabad and Gujarat. Along the way, we made two stops. Both stops showed directly how the efforts of one person can live on in spirit long after they are gone.

First, we stopped at a village called Thamna in Umreth, Anand, where a Babalbhai Mehta, a tireless Gandhian had devoted decades of his life to its upliftment. Here, Babalbhai spent three hours a day cleaning all around the village, leaving inspiring slogans on the village blackboards, and teaching youth. He was self-sufficient, spinning his own clothes and lived by himself without money, eating at different houses in the village each day.  He would travel to other villages as well and was known as the “mobile university.”

The repercussions of Babalbhai’s hard work are clearly visible today. Quite unlike all the neighboring villages, Thamna now has free, first class education for all children – including books, inspiring classrooms, uniforms, you name it. It has a modern sewer system, sustainable orchards, a high tech water filtration system, a dairy cooperative, and an ongoing tradition of leadership with vision. The decisions made here were all in the spirit of ongoing, consistent improvement.

dakorAs this day was Guru Purnima, the Hindu festival for celebration of the Guru, the other stop we made was at Dakor, a major pilgrimage site, where Lord Krishna is said to have come to visit one of his disciples 5000 years ago.

It’s astounding to see the vibrancy of devotion that can persist after so much time. Perhaps this living devotion comes from a deeper well of love and faith that is finding an outlet in His form, but still, Krishna likely walked the Earth, and obviously made an extraordinary impact to have become the personification of such devotion.

On the way to the dairy factory, I fell asleep in the car, as I had stayed up til 4 am working on the graphic design of Manav Sadhna’s 75 page annual report. Before I knew it, we had stopped and a man with a severely injured hand was in the car with us. Jayeshbhai has a way of constantly scanning for service opportunities and had seen this man by the side of the road. Yassin is a Muslim, and apparently, during the riots in Ahmedabad several years ago, he lost his house and everything. He moved to Anand, where he rented a rickshaw and saved just a little money. Recently, when starting the rickshaw, the lever kicked back and crushed his hand. It became infected and he now has to amputate half of it (all his fingers included). Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the funds for the operation and without being able to take action, the infection will have likely caused him to lose his whole arm and possibly even his life.

krishna1Unbelievably, Jayeshbhai said he could get the operation for only $12 US at the government supported Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, so knowing I had some funds from the blog donors, I gave him the money for the operation. Normally, I don’t like to just give money, but prefer to see the action through, but in this case, Jayeshbhai was certain he would get the operation, and said that Manav Sadhna could offer him employment afterwards. We will likely see him again very soon.

Once again, an anonymous donor here (I will tell you who you are) has made a huge impact in someone’s life on the other side of the world. Because of you, this man’s fate will forever be changed. Just as in the case of the Babalbhai and Krishna, your simple gift will bring ripple effects for years to come.

For anyone who would like to join in to help bring positive change, click here.

waterslideIn general, I’m more in favor of providing the basics – food, education, health care – to people who lack them than in providing a fun experience. When I saw how the 216 slum kids responded to the water park when we took them, it made me see the immense value of the experience as well. In America, most of us are spoiled with an abundance of opportunities to do interesting and exciting things. Here, with one trip to the water park, we planted a seed of excitement that built up to takeoff, provided a day of great fun, and a memory that would last for a lifetime. The response was pretty much universal – this was one of the best days of their lives – one that they would talk about for years and never forget.

After learning of its weight, when I heard about a nearby school for kids with developmental disabilities, I decided to sponsor a trip for them to the water park. It was a generous donation from a blog donor that made this offer possible.

What I thought I had heard was that there were only 20 kids in this school and figured that the cost would be about $200 to rent a bus, pay admission, rent swimwear, and feed them all, with some volunteers included. When we went to visit the school (Utthan Talim Kendra run by a very dear Bhavan Pandya), however, I found out that the kids were older than I had imagined, and that there were 50, as well as 7 staff members. They had already been told about the trip and the school was abuzz with excitement. This had ballooned past my budget, but there was no going back.

waterparksplashJayeshbhai later informed me that he had also invited all the women from the Manav Sadhna Khakhra project to the park as well, including some Manav Sadhna staff. Two luxury buses were now rented. In addition, Mark was inviting people right and left. This was growing out of proportion and as much as I wanted to support such a happy day, my pockets just aren’t very deep. Jayeshbhai said that I could pay whatever I was comfortable with and Manav Sadhna would provide the rest. Still, I wanted to deliver on the promise to pay for the day.

An amazing turn of events occurred when the owner of the water park said that everyone would be let in for free and lunch would be provided for all. Jayeshbhai said that this was all because of these diamonds – the kids – not because of Manav Sadhna. And he’s right. Manav Sadhna just provides the lens to allow others to see through as well.

The kids conditions ranged from Down’s Syndrome to autism to brain damage. I was a little concerned about drowning since none of them had really been around water and some had troubles moving. When we got there, everyone was amazing. They all seemed to naturally stay within their comfort zones. I encouraged as many as I could to challenge themselves and try new slides.

waterpark_dhoomOne guy in particular, Prabhat, who pretty much only says “Dhoom!,” (from the Hindi song that goes “Dhoom machaale dhoom machaale dhoom”), took the challenge and went down a slide. When I asked him if he wanted to go again, he said yes and we went. He held my hand tight for hours as we went down almost every slide in the park together. He had the time of his life and I’m pretty sure this ranked as one of his best days ever. Everyone seemed to have an amazing experience. I will definitely have to write a letter of huge thanks to the water park owner. Because of his generous gift, this whole magical day for 108 people cost only $165. I was able to pay for everything thanks to the anonymous donor who truly brought this day into existence.

For anyone who would like to participate in the dream, you can here.

For another write up about the day: Water park writeup (PDF)

As soon as Loveleen came to town, either all the wounded dogs came out of hiding, or else through her lenses, they all became so much more apparent. It’s almost like when riding in a new vehicle, you tend to spot that same vehicle everywhere you go, where it didn’t seem quite so omni-present beforehand.

dogcrying_1Over the last week or two, we had already committed to helping several wounded dogs. As we were walking down the street, we heard the wailing cries of another. At first we thought it was just a little puppy and that it was crying for its mother, but on closer inspection, we saw that she looked to be close to starvation and her back legs seemed to be seriously injured. Mark thought that he saw a leg bone sticking way out where it wasn’t supposed to.

Most dogs are somewhat afraid of people in India, but she was very afraid, as I’m sure her very survival was at stake. We got her some water and a sandwich, and were happy to see her drink the water. Hearing her further deep cries of pain as she lied down, Loveleen and I were both committed to helping her at any cost.

After seeing so many wounded and sick dogs all over, the thought of providing help is a hard one as it seems so much like a losing battle. Do you care for the injured dogs one by one, Mother Theresa style? Or do you look at the bigger picture – working to spay and neuter, provide vaccinations, examine the vehicle-animal dynamics? Perhaps the answer is both, but in her case, those cries left no doubts – rational or not, we had to help.

Our friend, Ashish-bhai, at Indicorps, made a few phone calls and found someone who could help us pick her up and drive her to a vet as we had no vehicle and weren’t sure the best way to grab her. Dr. Chaudry agreed to meet us.

We found her, called him, he came, and he quickly diagnosed the problem as a curable viral infection. There wasn’t a sever break in her leg afterall, just an old one that had healed, and so the steep expenses of surgery wouldn’t be necessary. With a few injections of anti-biotics and pain killers, she was quickly on her way to recovery. We would just have to ensure that we follow up for the next five days with oral anti-biotics.

Incredible!

dogdyingThat same morning, we had come across another dog in the Tekra that was on the verge of death. We asked if he could go to that dog as well; they were more than amenable, and off we went. The team was amazing. Dr. Chaudry was accompanied by a driver, who doubled as the dog grabber, and a 17-year old helper.  We drove in their jeep to the Tekra and walked through the poor area where the dog lay.

This dog was in terrible condition. He literally appeared to be at the verge of death, twitching like the first dog, and with ugly infected scabs and ants all over, eating him alive. The locals, in fact, said that he had actually seemed to die for two days and came back to life.  The doctor quickly diagnosed his condition as the same viral infection as the first dog. We were so happy to hear that it was recognizeable and easily treatable.  He gave him several injections as well. A few of his friends were also suffering from early stages of this condition and we were able to treat them too.

Again, we would need to follow up with these dogs for five days with oral anti-biotics, but like in the first case, the neighbors offered to do it. We would just supply the antibiotics and a little money for milk as this was a very poor area.

We couldn’t believe how well this was all going. In my experience here, I have learned that it can often be a very challenging and time-consuming effort to accomplish anything. Just picking up a dog and bringing him or her to the vet alone, could be an enormous undertaking, and here, thanks to Dr. Chaudry and crew, we had saved four dogs’ lives with such ease.

dogmangeI scanned my memory for other dogs we had seen in dire need. I remembered a dog with a severe condition of mange by Jayeshbhai’s house and so we all headed there next. We were able to find that dog and treat him and also two others with mange right nearby. It was so incredibly amazing how easy it all was.

We thought of another dog with severe mange in the back of the Tekra by Anandi’s house, and headed over there. That dog we were unable to catch, as the kids scared him away, but we were able to treat several others.

All in all, we probably brought life-changing relief to a dozen dogs and even one little kitten with a fever. Operating with such efficiency was like a dream come true.

Although this day was just a drop in a vast ocean of animal suffering that is pervasive around here, it was a real drop.

dogsloveleenWe found out that all the work we had done was absolutely free of charge as Dr. Chaudry’s work is funded by Gujarat Samachar, a Gujarati newspaper. The only charge was about $4.50 US for the anti-biotics and milk which were sponsored by one of our anonymous donors.

Loveleen was fully in her element and was as happy as can be afterwards. It is a shame that she is planning on going back in a month as her presence here could be so powerful. Loveleen is one of the most compassionate and strong heroes I have seen with animals, and when her day comes to help full time, the animal world will feel it far and wide.

If you’d like to be part of the dream, click here.

doggreenWhen we first arrived in India, Mark and I worked to coordinate a hundred Manav Sadhna kids for Animal Help Foundation’s march for animal rights. We worked with the kids to create lots of animal banners with kid-drawn animals attached to wooden sticks, and with the help of Viral and others, created a Gujarati chant saying that “I love dogs; dogs are my friends… I love cows; cows are my friends, etc.” It was a big hit and kids are still chanting it today. The Manav Sadhna kids were the stars of the march.

Because of this and because we are vegan and love animals, Mark and I have become the go-to guys for all animal rights issues.

Although India has a deep and still living tradition of respecting animals, the mistreatment of animals is something you will see everywhere. All of the street dogs, for instance, are in constant terror as people hit them and throw rocks at them all the time.

We were invited to create an hour-long animal awareness event for the summer camp kids at Manav Sadhna, and so quickly put together a very simple program.

parlegpackI bought 14 packs of biscuits and we showed up. The idea was that we would talk for a bit, then go out and feed whatever animals we encountered, giving kids a hands-on lesson in connecting with animals.

We were introduced by Jayesh-bhai, and have learned that anytime that you are fortunate enough to be introduced by him, the rest is smooth sailing. He has an extraordinary ability to create a captivated audience fully in tune to the heart of what you are about to discuss. We’ve experienced this on many occasions.

Mark spoke first and talked about dogs and how in the US, they are considered part of the family. He spoke of their unconditional love and loyalty. I spoke next and demonstrated how people are all living beings, just like animals, and how we are all worthy of love and respect. Many of the kids just seemed to be glowing after we spoke and we all went off to go find animals.

The first exercise was to take some of the biscuits and crumble them into little pieces for the ants to eat. There were plenty of ants around and the kids loved doing this. It was a safe warmer-upper, and an invaluable exercise in benevolence. The kids were quickly addicted.

animalday01Our group of 35 then went out to find dogs and other animals. The kids were amazing. They found lots of dogs and pet them and fed them and kept coming back for more and more biscuits. I was constantly surrounded by little eager hands, and as fast as I could open the packs and hand them out, I did.

We also were able to feed birds and cows and it was an immensely positive experience for all.

When we got back, we got into a circle and the kids discussed what they had learned. It was so awesome to be part of this circle as the kids just went on and on about how they had previously hit dogs and how they would never do it again, how animals are all worthy of love, and how much they give us back in return. When asked if there are any animals not worthy of love, they thought about it for a second and concluded that every animal is worthy.

animalday02Mark demonstrated the right way to approach a dog for those who weren’t quite attuned. And we even discussed how some people view others as inferior in the caste system and how similar this is to the way many animals are seen as inferior. As this group was all from the harijan community, or ‘lowest caste’, this seemed to resonate pretty strongly.  Gandhi was then brought up and everyone present had a powerful experience about the true meaning of equality.

The exercise was such a simple one, but its effect was profound and transformative.

Thank you unnamed contributor. I spent about $1.40US on biscuits. Not only did it effect a lot of people, but it made some animals’ days as well!

If you’d like to be part of the dream, click here.

apple_logoMark and I have come up with perhaps one of the greatest ad campaigns ever in the history of the world. What we need is a personal connection to someone in marketing at Apple/iPod. I can’t imagine that more than about 6 people ever read this blog, but I can imagine that out of these few, amongst your friends and your friends’ friends, someone has the connection we need.

I wouldn’t be putting this out there if I didn’t really think that it was worth it. Such an ad campaign would likely fetch a big chunk of change. If this goes through, Mark and I will donate every rupee of it to something very, very, very cool.  Promise.

So please help if you can!!! Thanks. :)

There were 130 kids and volunteers set to go to Shanku’s Water World this morning. Two rented tour buses were waiting as the children arrived at the Gandhi Ashram. Manav Sadhna had taken kids from the Tekra (nearby slum) to the water park before and it was all the kids talked about for the following year. As children from the Tekra poured in the Ashram this summer day, one thing became clear – the number of kids present far exceeded the number of kids who signed up.

Two extra cars were taken, the buses were crammed, and 230 of us headed off to a summer celebration not soon to be forgotten.

sugarcane11The kids played in the water under the hot sun for hours until afternoon. They all sat down, completely dehydrated, while a deal was worked out to serve everyone in our group sugar cane juice for half price.

sugarcane2_1Imagine a long line of a hundred thirsty girls followed by a line of a hundred thirsty boys all being served sugar cane juice as fast as it could be made.

In response to my posting, Join the Experiment!, a particular individual from over there sent some money to effect change over here. I won’t name names, but $26 of the money you contributed went to bring sweet relief to a parched 216 kids from the slums as well as some volunteers.

Compared to the extraordinary gift from Manav Sadhna, this was a very small contribution, but it definitely sweetened the day.

Thanks for being part of the experiment! A much bigger one is on the way.

If you’d like to play along, click here!


If you’re interested in seeing how you can contribute and actually make a direct impact on the opposite side of the world (without losing any money in administrative costs or overhead), then let’s play!

Just click the button below.  I’ll tell you exactly how every rupee is spent.  If you have any specific requests, let me know that too!

:)

A few years back, I was having an email exchange with a friend in Boston about the powers of technology. We reflected about how incredible it was that we were communicating with each other in silence over a 3000 mile distance. In some weird way, this proved that some form of telepathy seemed like it was happening – even though it had a clear, causal explanation.

Ever since I was a kid, I thought about the power of picking up a phone and dialing someone’s number and how it would get them to get out of their chair and say “hello.” I could even call a house in China and bring real physical change on the other side of the world – with such ease!

To me, this has always been extraordinary.

watermelonI thought about how cool it would be to type a few strokes on my computer, and ask my friend to go to the store and buy a tomato or a watermelon or something silly and give it to a random stranger – just to create a bizarre moment on the other side of the country.

In that same spirit, when my friend Mark Jacobs was in India a couple years back, I decide it was time to engage in this experiment. I sat in my back shed and looked at the computer monitor and looked at the keyboard. I was very far from India. Just as I am typing now, I tapped a little message asking him to participate in this experiment I had always wanted to try. I told him that I would give him $20 to do something helpful for someone else on the other side of the world. I told him that I just wanted to experience for certain that my little tapping and small donation indeed could bring change on the other side of the world.

In his characteristic joie de vivre, Mark J. (who was ALMOST chosen as the next Bachelor) jumped on the challenge and had an extraordinary experience which you can read about here.

The following year, Loveleen and I conducted the same $20 experiment with 11 fellows from Indicorps and we got a long personalized response from each fellow with their unique and carefully chosen methods of making a difference with $20. After seeing that long list, it’s hard to imagine a better investment of $220.

If you are interested in seeing what kind of effect you can have, I’ll be happy to act as your tenticles on the other side of the globe. To play along, click here.

Just today, we were able to buy a gas stove, grains and basic food for six months, and stainless steel containers for a small family living in the slum. The woman had acid thrown over her face by her (now ex-)husband, permanently melting her face and burning out her eyes. Her young sister, Bumika, who is really only a child, takes care of everything and is an amazingly bright spirit. The whole cost was only about $50, but will make a world of difference to them.

There are many such examples.

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