Last weekend I spent with the Friends of Max of the Bangalore Chapter who had planned a special community service event and I am very proud and happy to share this with all of you.
Karunashraya, or, The Abode of Compassion is a hospice on the outskirts of this city known as the IT hub of the subcontinent and in this serene and secluded establishment terminally ill cancer patients are provided the care that may not be available to them in their homes and other hospitals. The hospice is run by an order of Catholic nuns and at a given point in time more than sixty patients are given shelter and palliative care till it is needed.
The Bangalore FOM group have previously visited this hospice and provided support in various forms to the inmates and the Sisters but there had been a break and a long gap since their last effort. Binu and Param the tireless and indefatigable team leaders hoped , by planning a special event to inspire the younger and newer FOM to join in as well infuse the older members with some renewed energies. They also felt it would serve them well if I could attend and help them plan an agenda for the coming months ahead which would help them plan more such activities.
So Sunday afternoon saw us all gather at Karunashraya with food stuff and other grocery items such as rice , wheat and sugar that the establishment had suggested as useful donations and contribution to the welfare of the patients. More important and much appreciated I feel however was the smiling faces and happy demeanor of the FOM themselves who lost no time in eventually befriending the patients and settling down with one or two inmates respectively.
Binu introduced the whole team with Lakshmi doing the interpreting in Kannada the regional language and then Param took over in Kannada itself and spoke at length telling them that the young and happy faces they saw were also cancer patients like themselves and were inspired and motivated by the courage they saw in each of the residents of the hospice. I was also asked to share with the group the history of Max and the Foundation and I found myself slipping into my own mother tongue Tamil and sharing some very deep feelings with both FOM and the sweet, gentle patients who were waiting the final call from their Maker with such courage , dignity and equanimity. Soon everyone realised that it did not matter what language was spoken ; we were all hearing each other’s heart’s voices and understanding perfectly well what was being said.
Whether it was 82 yr old Mr M who had been abandoned by his family and battling a stage IV Kidney malignancy or 43 yr old Ms K who was being looked after in the final stages of a brain tumour ( whose husband and young son had come visiting ) or the 93 yr old Mrs S who had accepted her terminal breast cancer diagnosis with an indomitable spirit and did not stop laughing and smiling all through the evening despite the pain she was in , each one of these champions gave us more than what we came to give them.
Soon it was evident that the patients were beginning to tire and the Sister in charge came to shepherd them to their wards and beds. It was touching to see each take leave of the other with promises made of more meetings and little errands accepted . Mr M who said he would love some reading material , maybe a copy of the Bhagvad Gita in Kananda and young Ashwin immediately agreeing to bring him a copy was one exchange I over heard .
As we left the wards the energy and excitement levels amongst the FOM reached great heights and the joy they had felt and received in their giving of their time and attention was evident. It was wonderful to see the youngsters Vimlesh, Chaitanya , Prakash, Rajeev, Mahesh , Durjoy all bond together and the wives and mothers encourage them as well as bond with each other. They were so excited to get their red FOM tees and pose for this picture.The veterans like Varadharajan , Abbas , Murugendra
Shylaja, Kiran and of course Binu – Sheeba , Param – Rema were exemplary in their dedication to the cause.
A meeting followed in the conference room of the Hospice and then the whole happy group set out for a dinner together. The pictures tell you what a delightful evening it was and how rewarding it was for everyone.
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. — Kahlil Gibran
There were was not one individual who would not have agreed to this oft quoted but so relevant a quotation