Life isn’t perfect, neither is MAD. Today one of the most common reasons people don’t donate to MAD is because they think MAD is a large organisation that has enough and more support. I remember a particularly large donor telling me they will no longer support MAD because we are now a “celebrity” organisation with many others already supporting us. We have fallen prey to our own success.
At some level, I would not blame them because MAD does get a lot of love and respect in the social space today. Today people know that a child in a shelter home who goes through the MAD programme will no longer feel alone, uncared for or unsupported. They know the child will be taken care of, supported for making some of the most important decisions in their life and know there are people they can fall back on when things are not working out. Perhaps this is why one of our shelter authorities “Kanti bai” once told us that a child in a shelter home has a Father, Mother and MAD.
But that’s today, 10 years after MAD was born. It wasn’t always this way. We have come a long way since the day we started and I wish I could say it was an awesome journey, lead by visionary leaders who had a plan. In fact, it was anything but that. The real story of MAD consists of ordinary people who accidentally did extraordinary things because they cared for the children MAD brought into their lives. The real story of MAD’s birth is about the trials and tribulations of its first generation of volunteers who were willing to just walk into a shelter home and be there for the children, no matter what. In the process, they solved problems they didn’t even know existed, made unbelievable sacrifices and commitments and made mistakes that they will forever wish they could go back and correct. In the process, they also created an organisation that was larger than all of them.
Some See the Stars is the story of these volunteers and our children at shelter homes for these are the people who laid the foundation of MAD. It’s written by one of MAD’s first volunteers who all of us know as Archana Ma’am. People know her because she tutored the first two kids from MAD who left for the US to pursue higher studies. But little do people know how her tireless work with children in MAD in the last 9 years has shaped us as an organisation and helped us stay on course even in the most turbulent of times. Come to think of it, she has been one of the most influential people in the history of MAD and that too without becoming a fellow or a strat.
Some See the Stars is an insider narrative of the birth, growth and coming of age of an organisation that has touched and changed thousands of lives. The book is from the viewpoint of a volunteer and how she experienced the changes MAD went through in its formative years. The book touches on all the aspects of a MAD life-there are stories of MAD volunteers, stories of MAD children, sweet stories, sad stories, funny stories, bitter-sweet stories, stories of grit and courage, stories of undying faith and redemption. The book chronicles the hope and joy that you experience when you spend time with children and the way that this experience changes you for good. But above all, for me this book is about the power an individual has in MAD–to create real change on ground despite all odds.
Let me end where I started. MAD might be a large organisation now, more people might have heard of us and some might even believe that the future of the children in India is brighter thanks to the work we are doing. Hence we might get more funding, more people would be interested in associating with us, more articles of our success will come in the newspaper. But the fact is that none of that matters when it comes to actually solving the problems on ground for our children. What matters is the community of people who serve in MAD today and what drives them. And as we embark on fighting bigger and more complex battles, it is important for each of us to know where we came from, what we cared for and what values we lived by so that no matter how much we grow and how much we change, at the core of MAD there will always be a heart that beats for our children. This book is a tribute to all MADsters of the past whose values and belief systems build MAD and I hope this book will serve as a guiding light to all the MADsters of the future.
-Jithin C Nedumala, Co-Founder, Make A Difference