The Giving Back Foundation

Poised To Be A Catalyst Of Change

December 23, 2011
Source: Fashion Book on the Giving Back Book

Have you ever been stirred by a brilliant work? I have. Though I'm not much of a reader, Meera Gandhi's "Giving Back" stoked emotions I ididn't know existed.

Meera Gandhi is noted for her motto: "We are to the universe only as much as we give back to it" and in the words of Kerry Kennedy "Meera Gandhi is one of those remarkable women whom the angels must have sent to teach us a lesson on how to lead a fruitful life." So it was an exciting moment for me to receive a copy of "Giving Back" that includes vignettes of the author's friends Cherie Blair, Kerry Kennedy, Patricia Velasquez, Kristi Yamaguchi, Steven Rockefeller, Francine Le Frak, Clodagh, Ronan Tynan, Deborah Norville and Narcisso Rodriguez and illustrates how their charitable deeds are indeed changing the world. These people have dedicated a valuable part of their lives to helping widows and abused children, the sick and the elderly and the blind... and a hundred percent of the proceeds from this book go to charity.

Browsing through the book, it was motivating to observe key quotes do not come from Meera Gandhi. It comes from Eleanor Roosevelt. "Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give." It is not a one-off. Almost everyone else's insight gets priority treatment. On charity, Sir David Tang explains: "The impact (of the good deed) can be at either end of the spectrum, from negative infinity to positive infinity. The answer is: 'I AM going to do something for someone AND that is all that matters'."

Meera Gandhi credits her inspiration and motivation to her meetings with Mother Teresa in her early years and supports Asha Daan-Mother Teresa's home for orphans and admits she "continues to be the most influential person in my life". As a sixteen-year-old girl in Mumbai, Meera Gandhi often visited Asha Daan, The Blind Home and The Lepers Home. "Working there gave a sense of meaning to my life," she says. "Even though the children of Asha Daan have very little, they are capable of giving tremendous love to each other. If we bring a fraction of that love into our lives, I know the world will be transformed."

On reflection, "Giving Back" is a testimony to kindheartedness. The foreword is by the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The idea of the book she says "is to create awareness about the issue of giving back. I want the book to inspire people to donate to charities, to think less about themselves and more about others as I feel a lot people are indifferent to the cause that is philanthropy and I want "Giving Back" to be the catalyst of change." After illustrating in photographs and the written word how a number of organizations have indeed transformed the lives of millions by the simple act of giving, a quote by Fareed Zakaria closes the book and leaves us with food for thought: "The act of giving is twice blessed, touching the recipient but also the donor."