Many years ago, when I first got involved with Nirvana school, I gave a short ten minute speech about my recent visit to the school. The speech was after a golf tournament held to raise money for the school.
There were about 50 people in the audience, and though I knew most of them, I was extremely nervous. It was my first ever major public speech about a topic that I am very passionate about.
I spoke about my visit, how the money previously raised had been used and also appealed for more of the children to be sponsored.
An amazing thing happened after my speech – I had pledges for sponsorship of 80 kids! One person even gave £500 cash there and then. It was a very moving evening, as so many people came forward to help.
Looking back on that evening all those years ago, I now appreciate what one can do when you speak from the heart. My nervousness soon disappeared, and the feedback I got from one person in the audience was that it was a very moving speech from the heart, and he thought I was going to start crying any minute!
So the lesson for me was to never be nervous again, just be myself and speak from the heart.
Here are some excerpts from that speech, my first ever introduction to the power of the spoken word:-
Earlier this year, I had the privilege to spend a month at the school. I have to say that it was the most unforgettable and fulfilling experience of my life. I didn’t really know what to expect and I was worried about things which now seem so petty. Would there be hot water and would I be able to have hot showers every day!!! And what will I eat? What if I fall ill? All those things seemed very important!
The point is that once I was there, my outlook on life changed – there were all these people who seemed so happy and yet they had so little compared to me. And best of all the children gave me so much joy.
I was really privileged to make a difference in their lives, even though it was only for a few days. We have to remember that we can’t fix things for this people – their standard of living is not going to improve dramatically – and their lives have not changed much over the generations, But we can make a difference.
Nirvana school makes it possible for the children to have a better education and that’s making a huge difference to them. If by your donations and your charity, we can supply them with decent clothing, books and better facilities, then that is making a big, big difference.
So what did I do in my time there – drank lots of coconuts for a start! Joking aside, I think my biggest contribution was installing a computer system for the school and the children. It was so rewarding to see the faces of the kids when they first saw it – they all learn about computers but this was the first time they had seen one. You should have seen their faces!
When I went to Pondicherry, there were lots of donations from other people too – and that money was used towards a new roof, a new games room and painting the entire school buildings. I know Vinu massi has already planned a few special projects such as poster boards for all the classes and better lighting and ventilation. So a lot of money collected today will be used towards these projects which will all help to improve the school even further.
Nirvana Trust also does things for the local community. Whilst I was there, we installed a water pump for a local family. This made such a difference – lots of families will now have access to clean water which here we take for granted. At the moment, with the current level of funding we can do three such projects per year. Each pump costs around £150 which is not much for a lifetime’s supply of clean water. There is also a monthly eye clinic, and it is just so satisfying to see people getting their eyesight back.
In summary, I had a very humbling experience – I did so little for the Nirvana kids and yet I got back so much. Before I went to Pondicherry, I wasn’t sure that I loved kids but I now know I do!
One day my aim is to have each and every one of the Nirvana child sponsored from the UK. As some of you may know, Vinumassi runs a scheme where for £50 per year, you can pay for a child’s school fees, uniform, books etc. Currently there are 220 children in the school out of which 50 are sponsored. My personal goal is to find sponsors for the remaining 170 children by next June. And that would give me so much happiness I can’t even begin to tell you!
By the end of that evening, we had sponsors for 80 more Nirvana school children 🙂
Next time you have a speech to make, just be yourself and let your heart do the talking.