Beginning shortly before May 9th; continuing between May 23rd-May 27th
In the days leading up to Manav Sadhna’s Kashmir trip, Jayeshbhai contacted the mason that Manav Sadhna has used for years to build homes and toilets for residents of the slum. There was an old lady whose poorly constructed home had recently collapsed such that she was living under a corrugated tin overhang in the slum. Manav Sadhna was trying to help another at-risk slum family that had two small kids and was in danger of sinking further into poverty because the father had experienced a short bout of unemployment. They too were in need of their house being re-built.
Jayeshbhai had invited the mason over to his house in the morning to give him the two house-building assignments before leaving for Kashmir. The man arrived unusually early—6:30am and quietly sat on Jayeshbhai’s lawn. Jayeshbhai was reading the paper and noticed that the man was wearing a sad expression when he glanced up at his face. He asked him if there was anything bothering him. The mason said that his wife had been hospitalized that night after a miscarriage of their 4 month old unborn baby. She required an operation to remove the baby’s body and prevent sepsis. Jayeshbhai asked why he had come if his wife was in the hospital. The mason said that if Jayeshbhai calls, it was his duty to come. Jayeshbhai asked him how he was planning on covering the hospital expenses and running the home in the absence of his wife’s income. The mason replied that he would be able to make ends meet from building the two slum homes that he had been asked to build. He requested only one concession: that he be allowed to start in 2 or 3 days after his wife was out of the hospital and feeling better. Jayeshbhai told him it wasn’t a problem at all, that he should go stay with his wife, and start working after she had recovered. The mason hadn’t eaten breakfast, so he was fed. All the while, Jayeshbhai was thinking about how this man had worked with Manav Sadhna for years and had provided such humble, energetic service in that time. Even after breakfast was over, he never asked for money, and was completely determined to take care of himself within his own means. As he was about to leave, Jayeshbhai asked him to wait a second and ran upstairs to where he keeps his five-bucks money to grab a note. Without saying a word, he came downstairs and put a Rs. 500 note in the mason’s pocket. At a loss for words, he smiled, and tears rolled down his face. Jayeshbhai too started crying. Then Jayeshbhai told him that it was an advance on his payment for building the two houses. After he was able to start working, he could pay back that Rs. 500 from his earnings in ten or twenty rupee chunks.
In relaying this part of the story, Jayeshbhai stopped and told me that though he is getting Rs. 5000 a month, his vision is to turn it into a perpetual revolving fund of goodness that can be used to get more and more people on their feet. That in cases where it could be loaned out, and later returned to help another, that this option would be pursued.
“Just see, when compassion and love are put into the work, this five thousand will have the impact of five lakhs (five hundred thousand).”
Several weeks later, I was making rounds in the slum with Jayeshbhai. We met the old woman whose house needed to be re-built. To Jayeshbhai’s surprise, the house was nearly 30% complete. The mason had been so moved by Jayeshbhai’s loan of love that he started early and worked extra long hours to progress rapidly on this house. A short time later, we discovered that he had also made rapid progress on the house for the other family in parallel, much to the pleasure of the owner. The owner was actually overjoyed about something else too. When the mason started working on that house, he discovered that the two small children were eating only one meager meal a day as a result of the tight times the family had fallen upon. He took it upon himself to share the food his wife had packed in his lunch tiffin with these two small children. A few days after this had begun, the man of the house noticed that the kids seemed to be more energetic and alert, and inquired about the source of this new found vigor. The man was so moved that a stranger like the mason was helping to feed his own children that he pledged to be of service in any way within his power.
Jayeshbhai was marveling at the impact that Rs. 500 made when offered to the right person with love. The mason and his wife were happy that they weren’t in financial pinch because of the miscarriage. The mason, in turn, made the old lady happy and the poor couple happy by building their house quickly. Him and his wife also made those two small children happy by feeding them. The children’s happiness had lessened their sense of loss at losing their unborn child, and also made the parents of the two small children very happy. The father was ready to place himself into service to help another as a result of the small act of love from the mason. Jayeshbhai felt that what we saw was only the beginning, and that so much more had happened and would continue to happen that can’t and shouldn’t be measured, but that certainly rippled out to many others. He felt so grateful that he has friends ripe in love and wisdom who have allowed him to be a channel to bring more goodness into the world.