Last Saturday, on March 6th, I had setup a table for selling Anandwan's hand-made greeting cards at Toronto's Marathi Bhashik Mandal's combined Sahitya and Sangeet Sammelan programs, which were attended by about 200 people.
The sales beat my expectations. A total of about 60 cards were sold that raised $216. I sold it for $4 a piece or $10 for three cards. Most people opted for the 3-for-10 deal. Assuming the same pricing scheme going forward and assuming that I sell all 500 cards, I will be able to raise about $1800 (~Rs.80,000) for Anandwan. My plan is to donate Rs.100,000, so I will make up the difference by collecting donations.
I learned that there's a lot of goodwill for Baba Amte and many people want to help but don't actually want to take the initiative to do something. So when they see someone doing something, then they are more than happy to help.
The only sad part is that many people purchased the cards because it was for "charity" and not because they actually wanted to buy the cards. Some people tried to give me $10 without taking the cards, but I insisted that they take the cards as that would be injustice to the makers of the beautiful cards. At the back of every card were Baba's words: "give them a chance not charity."
Many good things came out of this. People were happy to see me selling the cards because they feel that young people are no longer interested in any sort of social work. I don't agree with that. I think it is the older generation that is somewhat out of touch with such things. It is also true that because our parents worked hard, that we, their children, are able to even think about doing something for others. There's an old saying, "charity beings at home." First we have to help ourselves, then we can think of helping others.
Beside my Anandwan greeting card table were organizers of a musical program who were selling tickets to their upcoming show, Gulzar, featuring Hrishikesh Ranade. One of the organizers liked what I was doing and offered me a table to sell the cards at their show, free of charge. Normally, they charge $200. So, I will be doing this again on April 16th. I also spoke to the other organizers of Gulzar about Baba Amte as they weren't aware of his work. The same person who had earlier offered me a free table to sell Anandwan cards at his show has decided to organize another show featuring local artists, the profits from which will go to the Amtes. That show is tentatively scheduled for July/August.
Now that I think about it, it would've been foolish and selfish of me had I not brought the cards with me to Toronto. I almost didn't bring them. I was almost prepared to leave the cards in Mumbai. A good trekking friend of mine made me realize my responsibility and Baba Amte's words also came to mind: "responsibility is not transferable." I think God saved me from committing a big sin.
The credit for making this possible goes to that someone - you know who you are - who actually carried the large boxes of cards from Thane to Chembur in a crowded local train. Thank you. Taking the cards to Canada was the easy part.
"God brings no luck to idle hands."
- Baba Amte