The Essence of Life
Nothing on earth
Can make life more worthwhile
Than the warmth of a child's smile--
For, just like a sunbeam
Makes cloudy days brighter,
The smile of a child
Makes a heavy heart lighter.
I've always had a soft corner for children. And I always wanted to use my life to touch theirs in a way that would bring them joy and happiness - would give me emotional satisfaction and peace. It would make living in this materialistic world worthwhile. I saw an opportunity in an article on Make-A-Wish Foundation carried by The Indian Express. I didn't think twice. I joined in the November of 1999.
Here I met Manjiri. She briefed me about MAWF and especially the hospital visits. I got confident as I thought this would be easy. So off we went to the Command Hospital at Wanowrie in Pune. At the entrance itself, waiting for Manjiri, was Priyanka, a cute little girl of about five. Who would even think after looking at her that fate had played a cruel part in her life. She was suffering from Neuroblastoma with Metastasis. Even before I could open my mouth to talk to her, she told Manjiri that she didn't like me!! I almost died!!! I thought I would never go back again!! But all was well henceforth. Not only did I manage to befriend Priyanka, I also managed to strike a rapport with the other kids. It has been a long journey since then and today I am happy to say that the children at the Sassoon Hospital share all their happiness and sorrows with me.
My mom always told me, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." Keeping these words of wisdom in my mind, always, I move ahead in life.
It is Mr. Anil Bora's vision (Founder trustee, Make-A-Wish Foundation—Maharashtra) that has made MAWF what it is today. We applaud his efforts to improve our world by encouraging people to help in this worthy effort.
The time I have spent at MAWF has been incredible. It has been an experience unlike any I've known. I learned some powerful things about myself as I interacted with the kids at the hospital. I realized that I have been quite a fortunate person and I learned to appreciate all that I have. There awakened in me a level of personal awareness that I hope will endure. Before I volunteered at MAWF, I had never had any interaction with children who were ill. I had never given it much thought. In retrospect, I'm glad my exposure to this issue was at MAWF. These children taught me things I could never learn in a book or classroom. For the work I'm doing at MAWF, I feel a muffled satisfaction. It made me think. It took me out of my comfort zone and opened up a world I had never known. It introduced me to a realm of amazing people with amazing experiences.
We grow up believing 'the young do not die,' 'death will come with old age' and the blame God for shaking our unrealistic belief system. One visit to any hospital will make us aware of just how many human beings die in the prime of life. In fact in our anger, we forget all our strength we can mobilize from within ourselves and from people around. We should use this strength in a positive way. Anytime you are trying to find the things that bring true peace of mind - a little love can help to show the way.
The love we give away is the only love we keep.
This article was originally written in 2000.
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