July 25, 2011
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is a long time since I wrote to you. I hope that all of you are well and having internal peace. Our work here in Siliguri, North Bengal of feeding the hungry people has completed one year. We went to many villages, slums and small hamlets in and around Siliguri and fed the people Five Star Khichree. You can now find the recipe for that on our website. We tried twice to pay other people to help with the cooking, but it just didn’t work. They just didn’t understand that it had to be the best khichree, the most delicious khichree in the world. They just didn’t understand that while cooking they had to pour two tons of love into the pot and stir that in with all the other ingredients, so that the love would also be there to offer to the hungry. So again, my son and I are cooking the food by ourselves, on the floor of our kitchen, on two tiny stoves in two very large pots and taking the pots out three times weekly and finding the hungry to feed.
In May we went to a place called Ganganagar, near the Mahananda River. We came to the end of the road in front of the river and then showed some men our pots of rice and asked, “Kohon garib lok?” Where are the poor people? The men looked at each other and then said, “You feed our children!” So we stayed right there and the men called the people out from their little bamboo huts and we fed all of them – except for one. During the feeding, one woman was standing a little behind the others and she kept smiling at me beautifully and doing namaskar. I would fill some more sal leaves and give them, but then again make eye contact with this lady and again she would do namaskar and just keep smiling. Finally after about ten-fifteen minutes the food was finished. Everyone left except that one woman. Then she said to our rickshaw driver, “Everyone received food except for me.” I felt just terrible. What to do? I told her, “Kul Iyeh”, meaning “We will come back tomorrow, okay? But still I felt very bad, also because I knew we would not be back the next day. There are so many places to go to and only three times a week we go out. After two weeks we returned to Ganganagar and drove deep inside on the footpath. The children saw us and the people began coming. Again it became a thick crowd of children, women and men around the rickshaw, all with hands stretched out waiting for the sal leaf full of rice to be put in those hands. Lo, I saw once again the lovely woman who did not get food the last time. This time, like the others, she also pressed forward physically and stretched out her hands to receive the sal leaf of rice. Last time she didn’t do this, and for that reason I thought that she was not interested to have food. But this time she did like the others. But you know, it looked so unnatural for her to stretch out her arms and wait for the food in that manner. I piled a sal leaf sooooo high with khichree and put it in her hands. She smiled sweetly and then left. But, I was disturbed, because it was clearly so unnatural for her to stretch out her hands to receive food. Though extremely poor and in her mid fifties, she was a very dignified, noble woman. It was as if by doing this she lost her dignity. Can you understand? Then I kept thinking, nobody should have to eat like this or receive food like this. All should be invited to sit nicely at tables or even on the floor as is customary in India. But – there are so many hungry! And right now we have no building and no tables and chairs for these dear people who are so very poor through no fault of their own!
Last winter it often happened that when we delivered the khichree, a few women would come forward and say, “Give us blankets. We need blankets.” But we had no blankets. We had only our khichree. A good warm woolen blanket costs Rs. 500 at the local market. Remembering these appeals and with the approach of winter coming, I was feeling recently, the level of our service must go higher. Serving khichree to 2000 people monthly is not enough. I decided to select just ten communities, the poorest villages of all we visited over the past year, and give each person in the village a warm blanket. On our website the slogan of Hearts Healing Hunger is “Right to food, Right to life!” Now we will add another slogan under a new section called Blankets for All. It will be called “Right to warmth! Right to life!” What do you think, brothers and sisters? The funds required for this project are far more than for feeding khichree to 2000 per month. To provide one blanket each to 500 persons in just one village will be Rs. 250,000 or 2.5 lakh, which comes to US $6,250. I have never raised such an amount before. But, we have to try, isn’t it? We want to distribute five thousand blankets to the hungry, cold persons in and around Siliguri during December and January. Can you help me? Please you think to help me now. Please put me in touch with others who can help. Providing five thousand blankets to the people here may seem like a small thing. But it is one step forward on the road to their longer survival.
The final goal, brothers and sisters, is for these sweet suffering souls to build with us a new world where economic suffering is a relic in the history museum, where instead we form cooperative commonwealths in each and every village, where everyone owns the coop, where everyone has a vote, has a voice, where money is decentralized all over the world. No more economic centralization! We want economic decentralization! So let us talk to the presently poor about the solution called cooperative commonwealths. Then let us work our hearts out to manifest this dream. We will call it the Dream of the 21st Century. Please, you all come here to Siliguri and help me to manifest this dream. Help me to rekindle the jeweled lamp, the unparalleled magnificence and beauty that is North Bengal.
Hearts Healing Hunger
Siliguri, North Bengal
Mobile: 98510 90212
If outside India, you can send donations by check made out to ‘Hearts Healing Hunger’ to:
PO Box 1002-C
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Alternately, you can send from inside or outside India by direct bank transfer to:
Account Name: Hearts Healing Hunger
Account Number: 910010027551810
Swift Code: AXIS INB035 (for donations from outside India)
Siliguri, West Bengal