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Answering the Faraway Prayers of Blind Children

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The Times Of India
19th April, 2021 11:15 IST

India has now passed its grim one-year anniversary of COVID-related lockdowns, which has spiraled the country and its people to depths of anxiety and despair never known before. Almost all of us feel more isolated and alone, barred from doing the simplest pleasures of life that before COVID were commonplace and routine. Of the many negative consequences of the pandemic’s “new normal”, there are undoubtedly fewer random acts of kindness between neighbors and those we live nearby, and even fewer stories where goodness unites faraway strangers.


This, however, is a story that united faraway strangers - both having the best of intentions and sharing a relentless commitment to help those less fortunate. This allowed them to connect in a truly inspirational way. It is thus a story of hope and inspiration, of charity and goodness, of faith restored through heartfelt deeds. The story starts with concern, despair and desperation, and ends in a joyful celebration of gifts received.

Our story starts with Mr. Raju Singh, a man living in Mathura, the sacred city near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna. He provides care for a group of six blind children, ages 8-11, living near his home. For the longest time, Raju had one simple goal: to get a computer that can be specially equipped for blind students, so that the children can continue their education, and improve learning capabilities. But this simple, noble goal proved to be almost insurmountable. Raju Singh says: “I devoted so much time, trying to help these children. I called government offices and made many calls to NGOs in UP for help. But I received no help from anyone. Every day we prayed to Lord Krishna and every day our prayers were not answered.

Until one day, when I expanded my search to NGOs in the Mumbai area. I searched on Justdial, and the first NGO that was shown was the Zarine Manchanda Foundation. The Justdial website showed many charity programs for the poor in Mumbai. Then, I searched the Foundation’s website and saw even more photos, plus the background and bio on the NGO’s Founder Zarine Manchanda. When I called the Foundation, to my surprise I was put in contact with Zarine ma’am. She turned out to be a blessing, the answer to our many prayers. It’s wonderful that a Mumbai NGO answered our faraway prayers.”


Zarine Manchanda completes the story. She says: “When I first spoke with Rajuji, I could sense his passion, his focus on helping the children. We were aligned because helping children is a core mission of our charity. When Rajuji told me that he could not get any support despite making so many calls, I knew I had to help. It just seemed our destiny was to meet, and for my Foundation to answer his prayers. And so, we did just that”

First, Zarine purchased a computer. But not stopping there, she also bought clothes and blankets for the children. She then dispatched Ajay Singh, her Foundation’s area manager, to Mathura to deliver the parcel. This way, he could meet Raju and the children, and take photos and videos commemorating the long-awaited joy.

The words of the children show genuine happiness and joy. On the videos they express thanks for the computer and also for the clothes and blankets, which were a surprise they did not expect.


For Zarine Manchanda, this story continues a long line of similar stories, of helping the poor and unfortunate in these most challenging and difficult times. Her Foundation has now administered over 150 charity donation programs starting in Aarey Colony in 2019, where the Foundation office is located, and more recently, in Andheri. The programs have continued even during COVID although on a smaller scale due to BMC restrictions on large gatherings.

It’s no wonder that Zarine’s profile is on the rise through substantial recent media coverage. This charismatic philanthropist, with movie star beauty, hails from a prominent political family in Himachal Pradesh and she has lived a privileged life, enjoying all of life’s luxuries. But her core mission and life’s purpose remain the same: to help the poor whatever way she can. Now labeled by the media as a “Princess of the Poor” poised to be the “Mother of Millions”, Zarine realizes that stories like this show such labels are more than flattering words; rather, they represent a call to action. Says Zarine: “I’m proud that we could help Rajuji and the children. While my Foundation is located in Mumbai, I want it to continue to expand to serve all of India and even beyond India’s borders, to be a force of good in the world. If people want to compare me to my inspirations, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, that’s fine but those are enormous footprints to follow. I can only hope to follow their path one generous step at a time, one compassionate story at a time, and to answer prayers from near and far.”



Disclaimer: Content Produced by Zarine Manchanda Foundation

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