Narendra Modiji’s Letter

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Looking Beyond one’s self

Paropakaaram idam shariram– this is what our scriptures advise us. This body has been given to us only for serving others. In this busy world, it is very difficult to look beyond I-me-mine kind of life that we all live. Still, if we can set aside some time, even a teeny weeny little time to do something for others then it is definitely a good thing. It is in this context that I felt so happy to hear about the initiative of the Asian Foundation to bring together under its umbrella all the organizations that are working for one cause or the other in Kenya. Very often the intention to do something good is always there, but people do not know whom to approach or what to do. Also with so many bogus calls coming everyday asking us to contribute to one cause or the other, it is really difficult to check whether these or genuine or not. So if there is a genuine community outreach program then it helps and motivates people to come together and serve wholeheartedly.

Giving need not be only giving money. People can give time, knowledge or their talents for a cause. The aim is to Transform lives and Communities which was the theme of the Stawisha Maisha Exhibition organized by the Asian Foundation (Kenya). Individuals and organizations serve communities where the poor and downtrodden are the beneficiaries or they can do some work in preserving nature and protecting the environment. So there are different avenues for us to serve depending upon our convenience and aptitude. The selfless and outstanding work done by so many diverse individuals and organisations towards transforming lives and communities was recognised, acknowledged, and showcased in this Exhibition which was held at the Oshwal Centre opposite Nakumatt Ukay.

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Such programs inspire others especially young adults as they are initiated into service initiatives quite early in life. The Rainbow Fish is an award-winning children’s book drawn and written by Marcus Pfister, a Swiss author and translated into English by J. Alison James.

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It tells the story of a beautiful fish which lives in the deep part of the ocean and is very proud of his colourful scales. His scales sparkle and shine as he swims through the ocean – alone. The other fish attempt to befriend him, but he ignores them until one day when a small blue fish approaches him. The small blue fish tells the Rainbow Fish how beautiful his scales are, and asks for one of them. Horrified, the Rainbow Fish refuses and swims on, but feels miserable as he has no friends and is always lonely. A crab directs him to a wise octopus, whose advice is simple:  “give, give and give- give away your scales to the other fish and you will be happy.” After some thought, and a second request from the small blue fish, the Rainbow Fish takes the octopus’s advice and finds friendship and happiness. He now realises the joy of giving. It is only in giving that we can get true happiness. This is the message that is echoed in the Upanishads, dana– give, give and give without restraint.