I am often asked why I decided to set up this charity foundation. Over the last two decades, I have traveled across the world and had time to reflect on what I saw on the streets and hospitals in Asia and Africa - malnourished, sick & handicapped children who had given up hope and underprivileged children on the streets without any education.
As I reflected more on what I saw and tried to think about my own life, I realized that even though I had built a so called "successful business" it did not guarantee happiness to me irrespective of who I was or how much I had. I thought I had built security, I thought I had built success. But in reality what I had built was an illusion. I realized that no one ever really has security or success unless it comes from within one's own self. That was when I promised myself that the next thing I built; no one would be able to take away the associated guaranteed happiness from me. I decided that I wanted to be in the business of imparting and spreading happiness. And the Foundation was born!
“I realized that giving is something that no one can take away from you. The rewards of giving go far beyond money and material things. Giving is something you will be able to take with you wherever you go for the rest of your life.”
The foundation was setup in 2003 to help bring hope to under-privileged children all across the world, while providing education, clothes, medical care, shelter and food to these children. Today, the foundation has adopted in excess of 3,500 children in terms of all their needs. In the process, we run multiple schools across India, an orphan home in Mumbai, medical ambulances in Delhi, an hospital ward in Pakistan and today run India’s largest private charity initiative in Delhi, where we are building 6000 concrete homes free of cost for the slum dwellers of Bawana.
During these five years the success stories are innumerable. Thirty of our children have passed professional graduation courses like Engineering and Medicine. Fifty-four of our blind children have passed graduation studies and are now studying in the Masters programme in eminent schools in India. Ninety-six of our blind children are presently finishing Graduation studies. Two hundred twelve girl children in Mumbai are studying in private English medium schools at present. Thousands of children are studying in schools run by the foundation.
While trying to provide education to the slum dwellers children, we soon realized that continuous education for these children can only be ensured if their parents continued to live in the same area. In 2007, the foundation conceptualized a project to build 6000 concrete homes on legally owned plots of land, free of cost for the slum dwellers of Bawana. Today we have finished building 2304 homes and allocated these homes to the under-privileged slum families of Bawana. The overall cost for this project is presently estimated at $ 20 million. We hope to continue building these homes at a fast pace and eventually hope that the success of this project becomes a model that can be replicated across the world in the slums.
Charity knows no boundaries of region, color, sex, language, religion or race. In fact, I believe that poverty is the single biggest religion in the world. Towards that extent, the foundation today supports projects across regions irrespective of religion or race. Whether it meant adopting 1300 Christian families in the villages in Kotilpadu and Pudur in South of India after tsunami ravaged lives in these villages, or sponsoring a cancer ward in the Shaukat Khannum Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, the foundation has tried to step up to the occasion.
I am often asked if I have undermined the cause of charity while glamorizing it through the use of celebrities as ambassadors to the cause or through the pages of a glossy color magazine like Lifeline. My belief is that we live in different times today where we will need to use the latest tools to advance our cause if we want to be effective. The younger generation today needs to embrace charity if we want poverty to be erased from the surface of the earth by 2050. The younger generation today looks up to anything that is “hip”. Towards that, I have always wanted to make charity fashionable and cool.
The foundation intends to reach out to all well-meaning people around the world, who want to contribute in terms of their time, energy or money. I decided to do that after receiving countless communications from well meaning people across the country, wanting to know my views on a variety of issues related to the challenges facing humanity today. Lastly, let me appeal to each one of you to sponsor a child or to sponsor a home today. Make giving a priority in your life. The rewards are immeasurable.
As members of this Foundation, let us all harness our energies and become the messengers for help for the underprivileged. Each one of you has the ability to involve your friends, relatives and others into this cause. We have the opportunity to make a difference and let us do it now!