Since he was a child, Mukesh has felt called to help the people in desperate need that he sees around him in Rishikesh, northern India. Now aged 45, he says he can't walk past anybody on the street who is hungry or destitute. So he stops to talk with them and invites them to his family home - also a music school. His wife Indra provides them with homecooked food, while Mukesh listens and gives guidance, teaching and whatever emergency money he can.
For the past seven years Mukesh has also been 'guruji' to about 20 children who live in poverty in his local neighbourhood.
Pictured above: Mukesh (centre) with some of the children he gives his time to every day
Without this open house they would be wandering the streets, possibly begging, stealing or being approached by people who mean them harm.
With Mukesh, a musician and music teacher, they have a sanctuary to be themselves and learn to sing and play instruments. And they have someone extremely caring, encouraging and totally non-judgemental to talk to. They begin to value themselves, adopt a positive philosophy in life and have dreams for their futures.
This man, his wife and four adult children have very little themselves but he turns nobody away.
Examples of the many he has helped include elderly people whose families have turned them out of their homes, severely disabled polio survivors begging daily on the streets, a woman who was raped and blackmailed by a neighbour, adults with drug addictions, children who have lost a parent or been given up for adoption, and many more.
How the funds will be spent
Mukesh wishes to complete the construction of a small building next to his home so he can give homeless children and adults a safe place to stay off the streets. They will receive his support, teaching and guidance to change their outlook and their futures.
He needs a minimum of £10,000 by the end of 2018 to re-purchase the small plot of land he began building on.
Pictured above: the building as it is now
More funds will be needed to complete the building work, develop and continue the project. Mukesh’s vision includes co-creating a vegetable garden and keeping cows so that there will be organic, homegrown, nutritious food for everyone who goes there.
If the funds we raise fall short of - or go beyond - the target required to buy back the land, the money will be invested in areas such as:
- Buying much needed musical instruments for the children who Mukesh teaches every day
- Potentially setting up a musical instrument store in Rishikesh where the children can gain work experience and make sales to help fund the continued running and development of the charity project
- Developing existing space within their modest family home, such as constructing bamboo huts on the roof and fixing water damage / damp in the existing bedrooms inside the house. This will enable more Western travellers to stay there as paying guests and students, providing a steadier income to help fund the charity project. It will also enable volunteers to give their time and skills to help the project in exchange for staying there.
Why I am supporting this
I am seeking support for this community project as, with resources, it has potential to help so many more people over many years to come.
I met Mukesh as I was looking for sitar lessons during my long travels in India in 2017. I stayed with him and his family for two months and what I witnessed there, while I was around him and the children every day, touched me deeply.
Pictured above, from left: Gita, Anchal, me, Krishna and Sapna
He has changed my life and inspired me more than anyone by showing me what it is to open our hearts, stand in integrity and help complete strangers unconditionally.
Thank you so much for anything you can give,
PS. Special thanks to photographer Natalie Speth http://www.nataliespeth.com/ for volunteering to provide the professional quality images and videos attached. Lower quality images taken by me on a phone :-)