The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 certainly had a significant impact on our new year festivities for 2005 as the tragic event happened on Dec. 26th.
We were struck by the devastation and our inability to be on the ground to help. Shanta was particularly overcome and determined to help in any way that she could.
This determination started a conversation at her school and brought school community together for a common cause. We sent packages of clothing, medicines and much-needed cheer for children who desperately needed support.
At the same time, a hunger grew to formalize our “giving” and identify areas where we could make the most impact with a small fund. And thus, SABHA was born, with the aim of assisting orphaned children (a direct result of the tsunami), supporting education and providing funds for persons with hemophilia, a genetic disorder that affects my nephew and took the life of his older brother in the late 70s.
I assisted with putting together the funding projection and took care of the paperwork required to get SABHA registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. We got the registration in 2007.
It has been ten years now and SABHA has grown, thanks to our generous donors and Shanta’s fierce determination. Just this morning, she said to me that SABHA is her passion and one that she passes on to all of us around her.
I was very touched by my interaction in late 2015 with young children afflicted by hemophilia and how impactful the small annual donation of $264 is, to their lives. It gives them mobility to access needed medication and provides the family some peace of mind knowing that they do not have to sacrifice their livelihood to care for their children. This was very evident from listening to the mothers and fathers who were just so grateful for this timely intervention.
I am always thrilled to see pictures of these children as they progress through life. The “before” and “after” always leave me with the conviction that we are doing the right thing and that we should be doing more.
I am so grateful that, through Shanta’s focus and passion, the accidental traveler that is me, gets to realize that together we can make a difference; together, we can help alleviate suffering exacerbated by poverty; together, we can respond and let the children know that they are not alone.
A native of Chennai, India, Krishnan Kalyanasundaram serves on SABHA’s board and is the Controller. He works in senior healthcare in Atlanta as the Vice President of Operations for a private management company.
Krishnan received both his bachelor’s and graduate degree from the University of Madras, India.