Giving Back

By Anish Shah, 14 yrs old

Acharya Chandanaji says, 'In friendship, we must give if we want to take.' This is put so simply yet communicates the message so perfectly. Tai Maa talked about this in our last trip to Bihar where 20 youth volunteers had come together to volunteer in Veerayatan. I started reflecting - In life we receive so much – food, water, a home, resources from Mother Nature. We take natural resources from trees to make paper and medicines however; we do not plant a tree for every tree we utilise. Even though it seems like an almost impossible task to replenish all the trees which we utilise, if we really put our mind to this, it is doable - we can take time out in a year to plant around 10 trees – can’t we?

Tai Maa’s vision and goal in life is to help others and spread the word of love and compassion just as Lord Mahavir had. From a young age, Tai Maa was someone who always gave back; she took money from her mother to help the poorer kids in her class by buying and distributing pencils. And from this tiny beginning, Veerayatan a NGO has been established by her, helping disadvantaged people and providing relief in natural disasters. For example, in 2001 there was a terrible earthquake in Kutch and the sadhvijis immediately went there and helped the local community as well as orphaned children.

We should try to be like her and give back to the world that has given us so much.

I went to SCVP Jain School, London, from around the age of 4, a school run by Veerayatan UK, a vision of Tai Maa and Sadhvi Shri Shilapiji. I learnt so much in this school about our religion and values we should live by. It was such a great experience and it was part of the reason why I went to Bihar in 2019 as part of the volunteer group. I wanted to give back to Veeryatan and this is the best way I thought I could.

Being in Bihar, I was able to reflect on how much we take from Society and felt it was more a one-way relation, a relationship where more is taken and less given! Therefore, when in Bihar I tried to give back to the world that had given me so much. That is why I think it is essential that we regularly give back to Society in whatever way possible – whether it is volunteering in a charity shop or teaching another person or planting trees - and spread the vision of Tai Maa!