I thought I would share a personal experience I’m having instead of a dressing tip.
I am currently travelling in India and writing this blog as we go along.
Many of you may know due to charity work I’ve done for Ovarian Cancer, that my younger sister passed away from Ovarian Cancer in 2007 at the age of 26. Over the years I’ve done many charity events to raise awareness.
My parents in the UK were busy honouring her in their own way and this is the story I would like to share with you today.
Myself, My Wife ( Karen ) and son ( Reid, aged 5 ) left Sydney on boxing day 2014
Our journey started in Ahmedabad where we met my parents who had travelled from the UK. It was so nice to see them after 2 and a half years. Especially my Mum who has struggled with my sisters passing. I hope this journey brings her some sort of closure.
After a night in Ahmedabad (capital of Gujarat), we headed to Porbandar ( 6 hours car trip / 400 km) Porbandar is where my Grandfather left India to go to Uganda at the age of 14 to seek a better life as many Indians did in 1906.
Porbandar was also the birthplace of the great Mahatma Gandhi.
After breakfast, we left for a small town called Raval which is where my Granddad was born. You may be wondering where my story is going.
It was important to my parents to honour my sister's name in a way it would last for centuries to come. So over the last five years, my father has researched and found a school run completely on charity. This school is in Raval and for many years they did not have the main hall. So my father set about building one, with the help of locals and head members of the community.
Below you see a prayer room/assembly hall built in her name. On the building says In memory of Reena Rasiklal Thakrar, UK – Prayer room.
It was such a humbling experience I was so amazed about what he has achieved and this prayer room will help so many kids in the future.
The story does not end there. After we had lunch at the school we were taken to another building. In Raval, there are many widows and no one to look after them. They rely on support on family members and handouts from the local Temple. As you can imagine, people are proud and not everyone would want a handout, many people like to get by on their own.
Below you see a building consisting of 8 units with one bedroom, one kitchen, one bathroom and one living room. This is to house 8 windows ( and kids ) until they get on their feet and can move on to their own place and let someone else take a unit.
Below you see the blessing we are receiving for coming to visit them.
After lunch, our journey continued 6 hours to Rajkot where we rested one night, then an 8-hour trip the next day to Palanpur. Yes I know we did some travelling. We were blessed to have a driver who knew the roads and kept us well refreshed with masala tea and water.
Our long road journey came to an end in a Hostel and boarding home for children. We were greeted by children who sang religious songs for us on our arrival. It had been a long day so we were shown to our rooms. It was only in the morning I realised where we were staying was 8 guest houses built by donations from my parents. These guest houses were built to house travellers, parents and needy people in the area who need accommodation. They have yet to be finished but we were the first to stay in them last night.
You can see my sisters name and a photo of her on the wall – Reena Rasiklal Thakrar – Guest house. The hostel is made of kids that are sent by their parents to get an education in the local school or are orphans who are getting a helping hand in life.
My son had bought sweets and hats from his old school for the kids, here you can see him handing them out.
After breakfast, we went to see the local school where the kids from the hostel attended. Again I have been kept in the dark of my parent's charity work. On the way to the school, we were taken to a dairy farm that is owned by the hostel.
I entered and thought were we just taking a look at the dairy farm. We were introduced to a cow that was born on Christmas day. My father had bought the tractor in my sister's name to help the dairy farm plough their fields. I was amazed. My sister's name was spread so widely. The dairy farm is owned by the hostel and run again purely on charity. The farm provides the children with, milk, butter, cheese and other dairy products.
We arrived at the school and we were greeted by hundreds of girls. My wife Karen was a talking point being of fair skin. She instantly was the talk of the school.
We were taken for a tour of the school and met girls ageing from 3 to13, we instantly felt very welcome. We were shown to two virtual science classes. On the wall, you see a plaque. These two rooms were funded by my parents and dedicated to my sisters. The rooms had computer whiteboards and new desks and seats.
Here comes the end of our journey and seeing the work my parents have done in honour of my sister Reena. Who would have thought My sister would have taken me and my family back to our roots and have her name spread all over my motherland.
I share this story as not to brag about what my family has done but to share with you my journey and the lessons I have learnt. I now know that losing my sister was one of the toughest things my family and I have gone through, but her legacy will benefit many children for decades to come.
There are now countless young boys and girls who’ll have a better life because of her early death. In her short 26 years, her legacy is far great than many that live to 75.
Sitting on the flight back to Sydney I felt very proud.
Proud to be Indian
Proud of my families response
Proud of my sisters legacy
How about you?
What are you proud of?
What’s the meaningful and purposeful project you’d like to be your legacy?
What can you do in 2015 to start making inroads into building that legacy?”
Thank you for taking the time in reading this blog article and letting me share my story.
A YouTube Clip of a funny that happened on our travels