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This guest post contributed by Robert Rose, Executive Director of one of our partner organizations – TRIFC.

Last year on my yearly project/programs visit to Nepal we had an unusual experience with a group of Nepali Rotarian friends.

We all got together in the early evening at a new restaurant that at that point in time was going to open in several weeks named ‘Chop-Sticks’. We were going to get a ‘sneak-preview’ to try out the location, ambience and snacks.  The restaurant had a trendy look with interesting and colorful lighting/décor.  We all sat down and were about to be served some ‘finger-food’ and tea/coffee.  Just before the food arrived, our TRIFC.org board member, Rabendra announced, “I have an interesting idea that I’d like to see if you are all game for…why don’t we turn off the room lights, close our eyes and experience just a bit of what it’s like to be without sight?  When the food and drinks arrive, keep your eyes closed and try to navigate the different dishes and choices onto your plate and into your mouth!”

We had about twenty Rotarian friends surrounding the coffee tables in the comfortable lounge chairs and they all agreed to give it a try.  The restaurant staff were a bit confused by the whole thing, but they agreed to turn every light off except a cell phone light which they used to bring the food in and set it down in the right place. 

It was quite illuminating being without sight and trying to locate where food had been placed and then trying to place it on your plate! I slowly passed my hand over the table, like a magician casting a spell.  The first thing I noticed was the warmth that radiated from the heated food.  You could figure out where to drop your hand, crane-like over the plate where you could feel the heat.  My first ‘catch’ was some French-fries which I scooped up and placed on the plate I managed to get under the food.  I decided not to press my luck and try to put some ketchup on the plate, however!

The others were experiencing similar thoughts and feelings.  Without the sense of sight your other senses pick up different information and feed it to the brain to fill in the gaps.  Eating became a much more tactile experience with shape, texture, temperature and size telling us the story of the food item we currently held in our hands.  Other food items were quietly placed on the table by the waiters, whose presence could only be perceived by the sound of their footsteps and gentle placement of the plates on the table.  I managed to find a different food item which I found to be shaped like a French-fry in length, but more textured on the outside.  This I found to be a breaded chicken-strip, which I proceeded to consume and then reached out to find more! 

What I ate tasted different…more vibrant and vivid.  The taste sensations in my mouth were working overtime to help overcome the absence of sight.  Then Rabendra suggested, “Now let us just sit quietly for one or two minutes and focus on what we are eating, hearing and feeling.  Let us experience and appreciate this moment by living ‘in the moment’.”  This was a magical minute or two, as we sat together in the darkness with our eyes closed, living ‘in the moment’, with me from half-way around the world sharing such moving experiences with my Nepali Rotarian friends. 

Of course, this was but a ‘taste’ of living without sight (no pun intended!) but it was definitely an educational and enriching experience.  I would encourage all of you reading this post to give it a try at home with your family.  It was truly illuminating, bringing the light of understanding out of darkness.

TRIFC.org is about awareness, empowerment and tangible programs to help the ‘differently-abled’ in Nepal.  Our “Backpacks for the Blind/Visually-Impaired” program currently listed on Jolkona.org is a high-impact program that can help blind children in Nepal have a better chance to succeed in school.  Please check it out!

Dear Jolkona Foundation Supporters,

 

Jolkona Foundation (www.jolkona.org) is a startup nonprofit organization based in Seattle that lets people choose how to impact the world through small donations with tangible proofs of impact.

 

When we launched Jolkona Foundation to the public in June 2009, we were very excited at the potential of Jolkona Foundation to make giving more fun, transparent and engaging for all donors. Since then, we have seen a tremendous response to our service. Over 350 donations have been made through Jolkona Foundation thus far. We now have over 50 projects in more than 30 countries and continue to add new projects on a weekly basis. We have received a lot media coverage as well, including a front page article in Seattle Times. Most importantly, together we have made very tangible impacts around the world:

 

  • Supplied more than 250 books to schools in Tibet
  • Educated over 25 girls in Afghanistan
  • Provided more than 15 artificial limbs in Bangladesh
  • Supplied over 25 desks to schools in Zambia
  • Trained over 15 children in computers in Guatemala
  • Planted over 4,000 trees worldwide
  • And much much more…

I would like to start this holiday season by thanking you – our biggest supporters. Your support has played a crucial role in making Jolkona successful in our first 5 months. We will continue to look to you to help reach out to more philanthropists and change the lives of more people on the ground. This holiday season I have 4 specific asks of you:

 

1.    Make at least one more donation to the Jolkona Foundation. Whether it is $5 to buy a malaria net in India, $30 to train a low income individual in USA, or $40 to buy a solar stove in Tibet, please make at least more 1 donation through Jolkona Foundation this holiday season. Check out our projects at http://www.jolkona.org/projects/?view=list and give.

2.    Vote for Jolkona Foundation in the Facebook Chase Giving Challenge and help us win $25,000 and a chance to win $1,000,000. It just takes one click to vote for Jolkona Foundation. Just follow this link – http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/339790, login into Facebook, and vote today. Once you have voted, please get at least 10 of your Facebook friends to also vote for us. We will be planting a tree for every vote we get in this challenge.

3.    Please tell at least 5 people about Jolkona Foundation and give them the opportunity to feel empowered by the difference they can make by giving to a project that inspires them. The more people we can get to give, the more impact we can have around the world.

4.    Stay tuned for our holiday giving features. Give the gift of making a difference to your friends, family, or co-workers.  Holiday gift cards will be available on our website shortly and will make great holiday gifts, stock stuffers, etc.    

 

We started Jolkona Foundation with a vision to galvanize a new generation of philanthropists – young people who want to see the difference their small donations can make. This message has resonated very well and as a result, our team has grown from just Nadia and I to a team of 20 capable, passionate, young people. We have been able to accomplish a lot because of this team and we are looking to accomplish a lot more in 2010. However, we need your help in helping us reach more people and get them to use Jolkona Foundation. I look forward to your continued support this holiday season and in 2010. If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to contact me any time.

 

Happy Holidays from Jolkona Foundation!

 

All the Best,

Adnan

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