BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. -Mahatma Gandhi
Saturday night at Shingar Banquet Hall in Brampton, a committee of volunteers came together to host a fundraising gala to support the Dharm Shala in Berbice, Guyana. For years the Dharam Shala has served the purpose of providing shelters and meals for the less fortunate in Berbice. Over the year the charity has suffered many drawbacks due to lack of interest and very little financial support from the public causing deterioration of the main building and unsafe circumstances for the current residents. The existing building is in need of renovations in order to be up to standard to provide better and more secure living space for the current residents.
The Dharam Shala is one of the longest existing humanitarian charities in Guyana, with one facility in Georgetown and one in Berbice. It serves as a ‘House of Benevolence’ for members of all races; also known as a resting home for those in need. Many of its current residents are individuals who have been rejected by society or their families. The Dharam Shala is a refuge for both men and women of all ages and abilities, including those that are bedridden.
Last fall upon hearing of the dire conditions of the Dharam Shala, Paul Dhandhari took a short trip to Guyana to see how he could do his part to help. As an active board member and volunteer of the Three Rivers Children’s Foundation Paul was no stranger to some of the desperate conditions humanity has faced. Upon learning of their need he knew it was his duty to service them in any way that he could.
At first the administrators and managers of the facility had offhandedly brushed off his attempts to help, categorizing his inquires as underhanded attempts at good deeds. They were used to having people come by, bring some food to the residents, take some pictures and leave with no serious attempts to help solve their long-term situation. By the end of his trip Paul had purchased and hand delivered twenty-five mattresses to the Dharam Shala in Berbice along with stainless steel plates and enamel cups to help restore some civility to the place.
Paul’s act of kindness is only one small step in his mission of selfless service. Upon his return he set to work organizing his year’s fundraising gala with the help of Sewa Canada International Aid a non-profit charity organization registered in Canada since 1999. Sewa Canada has agreed to fund the repairs needed to the Dharam Shala in Berbice, Guyana under Paul’s trusted leadership.
The fundraising Dinner & Dance Gala was a huge success with over 350-400 individuals in attendance who came out to show their support. Guests were entertained and engaged with voluntary performances by Zumba dancers Marta Vecera, Mariko Kamata, Giselle Tulipano, Kevin Oliveira Machad and Claudette Brown alongside individual performances by Bollywood style dancers Gina Singh and Kimmi Budhu, while DJ services we provided by Tropic Flava Entertainment for the night. Throughout the night prizes were raffled, and contributions made towards the improvements of the Dharam Shala, responding to Paul’s dedication to spreading awareness for this charitable cause.
Raising awareness and funds for Guyana’s Dharm Shala is a selfless service, one that will greatly influence the attention it deserves to be restored, and educate more people on the how they can do their part to help in the world. The funds raised at the fundraising gala is going to be directly invested into financing specific projects in Guyana’s House of Benevolence to ensure that the funds will be efficiently utilized in the much needed renovations of the Dharam Shala. The benefits of continuing to contribute to improvements are immeasurable, but will address the humanitarian concerns they currently face.
For those interested in more information or to contribute to online donations please contact Sewa Canada at www.sewacanada.com.