Nov 1, 2013

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea talks about how Greg Mortenson, an American nurse, a former mountaineer, ended up building dozens of schools across rural Pakistan. It sure motivates one to do something.

Greg wrote 580 letters to famous people. One responded. That single response met all his needs for his very first school! $12,500 in the year 1993.

Few years ago I had envisioned tailoring schools and medical clinics in rural Tamil Nadu.

Kudankulam - Mom's native place, could definitely use a tailoring institute. Always there is a demand for tailors in India. Girls could be self employed with tailoring skills. Or may be even we could employ them to work on orders from local market.

Manjuvilai - Israel's native has no medical clinic. A baby had died in the recent years on the way to a doctor's office about an hour and a half away. This can't be. We must intervene. Can't we do something? Build a shed? Talk to friends who are doctors? Make them visit couple of hours a week? Can't we employ a doctor?

Tirunelveli Government Hospital is such a pity sight with metal beds, rusted equipment, dirty floors, cobwebbed ceiling. Can't we gather hands and paint the walls? Clean the halls? Something? Anything? To make it better?

I had reached out to most my friends. They rejected my plea. "Why bother? Take care of your kids. Indian Government has enough money. Let them do it", they said.

I felt so inadequate and helpless having found no one to share my vision. I began to doubt my intent. What was I after? Was I seeking my own fame? What really did I expect in return?

When the urge got stronger, I decided to do a simple test. I would reach out to a handpicked list of friends and family. If my initial need for ten sewing machines were met, I would be assured of my vision. If not, I would let it pass.

I sent out emails and waited. Weeks went by. No response. Neither good nor bad. It was like no one received my letter. Absolute silence. I was torn. I decided I had no true friends after all. If I did, wouldn't they have written back one way or another? Even if they didn't help couldn't they wish me luck?

On the verge of giving up, I received a single response to my hundreds of emails. 

A friend donated funds for all 10 new sewing machines! My call was confirmed. After all, it was not my own fame I was seeking. What a relief!

My sister came forward and offered for us to use our Grandma's house which she had inherited. Two family members also donated their used sewing machines. Surely I was at the height of joy.

My cousin did all the ground works. He renewed the house, repainted the walls, covered the well, made the announcements, hired the staff. With that we have started on our new adventure, in my Grandma's house in Kudankulam, in Grandma's name.

Sathiapoo Ammal Tailoring Institute opened on my birthday in August and that was the best gift ever in all my life. Because this time we were giving back!

Heart of hearts I do believe this is only the beginning...

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