Mindfulness and meditation are merely tools that provide us with processes to move beyond our bodies and our form into a recognition and experiential understanding that we are so much more than these bodies. The problems that come with these individual bodies fade away as we begin to identify with that part of ourselves that is so much larger and more than our form. It allows us to see ourselves in the life that surrounds us, from the people and animals to the planet itself. We will no longer feel the need to exploit any of these once we begin seeing ourselves in them. All exploitation, discrimination, animosity and hatred comes only from the belief that we or those like us are separate from those “others”. I do believe that charitable work is but a reflection of the recognition that we serve others for no reason other than the fact that they are not separate from us, and in fact, an integral part of ourselves.
At the core of mindfulness and meditation practices is to develop the ability to separate ourselves from our thoughts and beliefs so that we may observe them and understand how it is our very belief that we are separate from the life that surrounds us that causes much of our pain. Charitable work is just one of the ways in which we can physically act out this belief that we are all connected and somehow related to each other. Something that we have all begun to understand and see more of since the COVID-19 outbreak, where communities everywhere have united and come together like never before – A world that has appeared to unite in more than one way, with much of the language, action, and beliefs we once had now changing.
In my working life, I have had the privilege of meeting some truly inspiring and amazing people. Among them have been three women whom I mention below in this section who have been real-life examples of those living this truth that I hope to one day experience all the time – that we are all indeed One.
Now, I would like to introduce you to these three women, two of whom are responsible for two of the charities that I currently support and which mean a great deal to me. Please do investigate them further and feel free to donate to them if you are in any way looking for a worthy cause to contribute to.
Janice Girardi is one of these people I refer to who has been an incredible inspiration. A world-renowned jewelry designer living in Bali, she founded BAWABALI and has been tirelessly caring for, loving and transforming the lives of thousands, perhaps even millions of animal and human lives both in Indonesia and the world. Having supported her work when I was a part of an international animal welfare organisation, I watched in awe as she would use most of the monies earned from her business to improve the lives of both animals and the people around her. Adopting as many of the animals as possible to live with her in her home and driving about in her old (smelly, because it was full of pet food) truck feeding her “family”, the street strays, words will never be able to express my admiration for this incredible woman.
And then there’s Nina Ali, someone who has become a dear friend and Godmother to my son who runs an orphanage for girls in Pakistan. Having taken out a financial loan securing it against the only property she owned, she single-handedly set up this home. She continues to use the larger part of her income as a lawyer to ensure that her “daughters” are given the best possible education, care, love and support she believes every child should be entitled to and dreams of opening up homes like this all over the world for this very reason. The charity she set up, Millie Mittoo, is a UK registered charity with no real administrative overheads because it is run completely by Nina and a handful of volunteers in the UK. Staff in Pakistan are all known personally to Nina and have been handpicked by her. Costs mainly relate to those salaries, the rental of the property being used as the Home and of course all that is required to ensure that the educational and essential (and of course the more special) needs of the girls living there are always taken care of. Nina travels to Pakistan frequently to see the girls and has developed very special nurturing and loving relationships with all of her “daughters” that touches and inspires every single one of us who know her.
Finally, there’s the late Irene Fernandez with whom I began my career as a salaried non-profit worker. Someone who was willing to give up her freedom and life for the people she served. She worked to ensure the rights of migrant workers, refugees, women, those identifying as LGBT and so many other marginalised groups all over the world. Someone who will truly be missed but whose legacy shall live on forever in the hearts of those of us who had the privilege of knowing her.