This is where I invite you into my heart. Where you will get to know what makes me focused and passionate. What gives me purpose to fight the good fight. They are the children, the innocent victims of that scourge HIV.
In late 2007, a conversation with President Bill Clinton led to him facilitating my visits to some sites where his foundation provides for free or very little money, medications to children with HIV/AIDS. The experience changed my life.
Since then, I’ve been working to help these children. My approach is two-fold. First, I want to raise awareness and funds for such children all over the world. To achieve this, I speak wherever I am invited. Rotary clubs, universities, Ethical Societies, libraries etc. I published a limited number of a book titled The Lucky Ones to relate the plight of such young ones through poems and photographs. It was gratifying that President Clinton liked the book very much and signed two hundred and fifty copies. One hundred percent of the proceeds were given to the Clinton Foundation, designated to the cause in general. To date, about $9,000 has been raised.
The second approach is to be personally involved. Each year, I visit one particular orphanage outside the city of Mumbai, India. I get to know the children and watch them grow. Some visits, I miss a face of one who succumbed to the disease. It breaks my heart every single time. I want to do my best to help the orphanage give these children a healthy environment, an education and most of all, let them know that there are people like me who really care about them. After all, at the very core of each of us is the need to know that we matter.
I’m working on a second book Aspirations. In this there will be more poems from my heart as well as recent photographs. In addition, so the world has a chance to ‘hear’ the children, the book will include drawings and photographs taken by them. On one of my visits, I gave the children disposable cameras with instructions to capture glimpses of their life at the orphanage. I gave them art supplies so they could express their dreams and ambitions. What you will see cannot fail to touch you. It is my deepest wish that the book will drive home the urgent and important need for the world to do right by these children.
A small core of friends have unstintingly supported my efforts these last five years. I would now like to increase this group by inviting the world to join me.
I’m working to become a 501(c)3 but until such time, please know that any funds sent to me will be given in totality to either the CHAI Initiative of the Clinton Foundation or to the Mukta Jeevan orphanage as per your specification. Or, please feel free to donate directly to the Clinton Foundation or any other legitimate organization that helps children with HIV/AIDS. This is a cause worth fighting. It is simply not right for these children to be ignored and condemned.
If you have any questions, would like to hear what I have to say at your college/club/church/company or any other reason, please contact me at email@example.com.
Below is the title poem to the Lucky Ones. I hope it’ll make you give you pause for thought and most imperatively, I hope it makes you feel. Once you feel, you will act. I’m sure of that.
The Lucky Ones, Poems and Images by Shobha Vanchiswar
First Edition 2009, ISBN: 978-0-615-33016-7
The Lucky Ones
Lucky to lose?
Lucky to weep?
Lucky to get sick?
Lucky to sleep?
What blessing is this
to be all alone?
To take comfort in strangers
and make them my own?
How grateful should I be
to be permanently sick?
To grow so slowly
is but a cruel trick.
What is so lucky
about my strife?
I am fed and I’m clothed
I am medicated for life.
Yet, I’ve learned to laugh
I spend days in play
I dream at night
For how much longer, can you say?