Finding joy in service

I’m passionate about using education to change the world. You have probably heard of the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” In 2009 in India, when I offered to write a brochure for Vishva for the local kids he was sponsoring, I had no idea at the time that this would be the start of a much bigger initiative that has grown over the years into an international charity, managed by a group of dedicated yoga teachers. It’s an accomplishment that I’m really proud of.

Why give back?

Seva, or selfless service, is defined as a service that is performed without any expectation of result or reward. These services are performed to benefit other human beings or society in general. There are thousands of ways in which you can be of service to others in big or small ways. Holding a door for someone, smiling at your neighbours, picking up garbage that has been thrown into the street, meditation for peace, are just some examples of how you can make a difference and they don’t cost anything.

Small acts of kindness have a ripple effect on others and it’s often paid forward. You never know how much you will impact others when you show you care. The act and spirit of giving connects you to your community, both near and far. If you’re feeling alone, when you reach out to someone to offer your help, you quickly realize you’re not alone and that you are not the only person who is struggling in this world.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

The formation of Helping Hands for India is living proof of the truth behind Margaret Mead’s words. When I left India in 2010 I had no idea when I would return, but I knew that I would go back. It was over the course of the next three years that I traveled to many different countries finding ways to volunteer through teaching yoga supporting local, community projects.

I returned to India once a year as the school transformed from an idea into reality, going from design to construction during 2012 and 2013.

The school officially opened its doors and welcomed about two hundred children on July 1, 2014. We have been fortunate to have the support of so many people along the way. Hundreds of people have played a part in making this project come to life by offering their time, money, expertise and hard labour.

Imagine if everyone had the same opportunities in life. While we’re not all born into the same circumstances, we do have the power to change our circumstances. We all have the ability to change ourselves for the better and to offer help to others to make life a little easier for all. Imagine what’s possible if we all gave just a little bit. I believe it’s the small things that add up to make a big difference.

~ Shobhana