A Smile & An Act Of Kindness A Day To Keep The Doctor
Posted by Anne-Marie Bauer on Feb 5, 2014
For approximately the last eight years, St. Xavier's Social Service Society has held an annual health-care fair to educate people on health and on disease prevention. Suresh bhai, a few staff members of the Environmental Sanitation Institute (ESI), along with a few of us volunteers came to spread messages not only on sanitation and personal hygiene as a means of good health, but on the mental and spiritual aspect of well-being also. Thus, a gathering of a couple thousand people from all over Ahmedabad, during the course of two days allowed for many opportunities to share and connect over kindness and generosity! The ESI stall was set up on one side with it's usual demonstration equipment, various models on low cost toilets and educational posters. However, on day two of the fair, an impromptu gift-economy style kindness table was also laid out. This came about after Suresh-bhai the day before in his slightly feverish state of being- cooked up the idea to step it up the next day and really hone in one 'inner cleanliness' as well!
The kindness table was a big hit, as people flocked in puzzlement to understand what it was, and how it related to health. This included thirty plus health fair volunteers who were students in social work. First off in the early morning, Suresh-bhai explained the idea of the smile card and deck, and within minutes had all volunteers off to tag participants, health-care educators and kitchen staff with small gift items and acts of kindness! They were all eager to share just how they were going to bring smiles to people there and elsewhere around their community. Before doing so however, a moment of silence and prayer was held to start the days intention off right. A sight that had strangers holding hands within minutes of knowing each other and kindness blooming big.
Later on during the day, two men off in a corner were all smiles as the other was seemingly explaining the surprise random act of kindness he received. The gift- a small “Be the Change You Wish to See” flower lay, now hanging around his neck.
Small acts of kindness were spreading like wild fire across the fair and breaking even language barriers! Caruna and Zoe, (two inters visiting India from China), who were with us for a day, were lovingly nudged by Suresh-bhai to go give one of the students a hug. Zoe, who speaks very little English was asked to complete this 'kindness mission.” Initially in shock at the request, she then hesitantly went over the group of students and gave one of them a hug. Culturally very different for both Zoe and the student, but within minutes the entire group along with Zoe and Caruna were laughing and relating with each other!
At the end of the fair health, educators were asked to share a few thoughts from the day. In his closing remarks Suresh-bhai shared that when we connect with each other through kindness and generosity it is a process of self purification. Further, that our mental and spiritual health is enlivened because through this connection we recognize ourselves as one with each other. So, I leave you with this Rx: a smile and an act of kindness a day, will be sure to keep the doctor away!