A small contribution can change lives!

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 6.04.34 PM

I just received this very moving story from Crossroads Foundation, telling us how a small contribution can make such a huge difference to people’s lives.

Bhavani is a 42 year old fisherwoman who lives on the coast of southeast India. Her family was, for years, totally dependent on the sea for its livelihood. Bhavani’s husband Muthu sailed out to sea each morning at 4:00 and Bhavani sold his catch at the local market. It was a precarious existence, however, and, as the family grew and their needs increased, the fish became more and more scarce. The income from Bhavani’s daily market sales was not enough to meet their needs for food, medicine and school fees. They had no option but to take out loans from a local moneylender who, typical of their kind, charged impossible rates of interest whilst intimidating those who could not pay. Bhavani could not keep up with the wildly inflated demands and she was terrified of the repercussions. She felt her family sink further and further into desperation, seeing no way out.
By way of background, Bhavani’s tribespeople live in southern India on sloping hillsides, in valleys, on the periphery of forests, as well as by the sea. They are marginalised and many do not have an official identity, are unable to vote and are cut off from other basic rights. Like most of her people, Bhavani has no access to electricity, clean water or formal healthcare whilst tuberculosis, skin infections and alcohol-related illnesses frequently claim their lives. Discrimination or lack of formal identity documents prevent children from getting into school and many fathers, like their fathers before them, are trapped in modern-day slavery, working without proper pay in rice mills. Continue reading

Looking for a Cause?

Did you know that there are 41.2 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world? And 12 million stateless people living in limbo without citizenship rights? Recently, I had an opportunity to do a motivational session for a youth refugee group in Hong Kong. And I realized that people forced from their homes by conflict are among the world’s most vulnerable who all have individual stories of loss, heartache and survival.

Officially there are 6,500 refugees in Hong Kong. Most of them are asylum seekers who have suffered human rights abuses, persecution, torture or sexual violence! They usually come from South Asia (Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan) and Africa (Somalia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, Ivory Coast).

Ever since I have heard about these people and met some of them, it’s been almost impossible to complain about my small problems and challenges in life. The things that we take for granted – home, family, friends, job, food, clothes, education etc. – are daily struggles for these people. We are extremely blessed if we haven’t experienced war, famine, violence, displacement or other such calamities, and we should be very grateful!

If you are looking for a cause to support or an opportunity to contribute, you should consider Refugees International or Hong Kong Christian Action who are helping thousands of refugees with their basic needs.

Relationships Make Us Happy!

Our poll on What Makes You Happy? has got over 200 votes so far. And ‘relationships’ has continued to be the winner, followed by health and career. Interesting, isn’t it? Question is, why most of us don’t spend most of our time, energy and money trying to enhance our relationships?


What makes you happy? Preliminary results!

Here’s what it looks like, so far:

poll-resultsBut that’s just based on 81 votes! Do you think the results would change much if we had 800 votes instead? Please help get some more votes, and let’s find out.

A respected friend of mine asked me the purpose of this survey, and whether I guarantee confidentiality. Yes, absolutely. I can only see this chart – no names or anything else. And the purposes of the survey are a) personal curiosity and b) obtain interesting statistics to share with my readers. Fair enough?

Six things for happiness!

What do you think really makes people happy? I have wondered this question for years. Is it money that allows you to buy the things and do the things that you like? Or is it strong relationships – people you love, and people who love you? Or is it success in your chosen career and the recognition that comes with it? Or optimum health, fitness and energy to enjoy life to the fullest? Or a religion that connects you to a higher being and guides you to do right? Or does it come from contribution to community or society or mankind or other life or our planet earth?

What makes you happy? Please take this poll and tell us. Please limit to three of the six choices. Get your friends to take this poll too. The more participants, the clearer the answer.