Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 120

I'm always asked how/where I got the idea for Project 365. For the most part, the idea of giving back every single day was an overnight kinda idea, but the idea to give back and make a difference came from elsewhere.

I love reading and really wanted a good book to read one night. My brother, Jiten, shoved his college world literature books my way. The first one I read - Not for Sale by David Batstone. I couldn't put this one down. I was so moved by the stories - I knew I wanted to start making a difference in my world. So today Jiten and I attended an awareness/fundraiser 5k walk hosted by the Not for Sale campaign.

Slavery is not a thing of the past, the global slave trade is still very prevalent and is closer to us than we think. In fact, Atlanta ranks #13 in the WORLD for human trafficking of women and children! Atlanta is possibly one of the biggest hubs for underage sex trafficking in the U.S. - 500 girls are trafficked for sex each month, servicing 7200 men. Further, each weekend, between 100 and 150 girls are "raped for profit," a phrasing that stresses the true horror of this crime: not only are girls violently raped, but money changes hands for that rape to occur.

Change starts with awareness. And now we all need to take action to help re-abolish slavery!

Doing the Cupid Shuffle as we warm up for the walk

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 119

If you're ever looking for inspiration come hang out at SafeHouse.

I'm finally back in town for a few days so spent some time at SafeHouse. I had one of the best conversations while I was there today. So a bit of background, each night this gentleman comes to SafeHouse. He is very well dressed and sometimes I'll see him sitting in a corner working on his laptop. It didn't fit! I didn't understand why he was there (I thought he was a volunteer the first time I saw him).

He introduced himself to me last week and he told me that he had a business. Again, I didn't understand why he was at SafeHouse. Today he came up to me, shook my hand, and started a conversation. He is an optician who moved to Atlanta two years ago for a fresh start. Life happened and he ended up on the streets (no drugs or alcohol involved). He had a vision for what he wanted out of life, he kept his focus, stayed motivated, and now has his own new business (check out his website birthdaycardstudio). That doesn't mean he's where he needs to be, but he is working on it. He lives in his office and is an entrepreneur who wants to give back to his community (specifically programs to feed children).  He is intelligent, resilient, and humble. And he's an inspiration.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 118

So I'm still out of town and unable to find places to volunteer here - which means online volunteering tonight! Also, Raksha and Dona have done such a wonderful job covering, they really deserve a break, so here goes...

A couple months back I tried a new online volunteering site - While it was a great opportunity it just wasn't one that I really enjoyed and I couldn't find a lot of challenges to help out with. I got an email from them this week to come back and check out the new challenges. I did. And I actually found some that I  enjoyed and could help with.

The first was Cradles to Crayons - an organization that strives to provide children up to age 12 living in homeless and low-income situations with the essentials they need to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued. They needed help researching stats on poverty - research...right up my alley (yes I'm the nerd int he group)!

I also critiqued a website for an animal rescue shelter ( based in Canton, GA: Green Pets America is a non-profit animal rescue organization formed by volunteers who are dedicated to providing innovative solutions to solve the homeless animal crisis in America.

The last was some more research on blogs related to Alzheimer's for the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation, an organization dedicated to the prevention of memory loss and Alzheimer's disease.

So if you're interested in making a difference and aren't able to get out to do so, check out They have a variety of non-profit organizations on there that need help in various ways.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 117

So in light of the tornado watch, and Chandni being out of town... we decided to play Freerice!

I think Lubna started playing this morning, I know this because she got stuck on the word "halo", hehe! Lubna, it's the "ring of light" you see on the top of my head... I'm kidding, she knows that i'm no ANGEL!

My coworker Maliha suggested that we create a group on for our friends to join and for us to be able to keep trach of everything... So we did, and it's called "Project 365"! (Click, Join, PLAY!)

Also joining us tonight is my cousin, Sarah, in Canada, whom I was only able to surpass when she decided to take a break.

I decided to dabble in a little bit of Geography (which ended quickly after I kept forgetting what Ulaanbaatar was the capital of) and Spanish. with just a LITTLE help from Giselle, the office staff, and a few other friends... I donated about a thousand grains of rice answering in the Spanish category ALONE. yeah, i'm brushin my shoulder's off.

So off I go, on my way home... i hope I don't get swept up in the winds!

JOIN OUR GROUP! PLAY with us! And give back in ANY way you can! Sometime's it's just a matter of clicking!

Here's the link one more time, Project 365 on

Happy giving!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 116

Chandni and Dona are letting me write the blog today! So here it goes.

Today was another eventful night at safehouse. I dont know what it is
about that place but everytime I'm at Safehouse (SHO) the everyday
hustle that we all have to be a part of, almost diminshes. Today we
met different groups of people from different organizations at
Safehouse that weren't just there to "help", but actually have a
purpose and mission to help bring all the "bad stuff" that goes on in
this world to an end. It made me think about how this world IS filled
with selfless people that our society and our world really needs. I
realized that we all get caught up in this everyday hustle of work,
school, family, friends and relationships, etc. But we forget to see
what some people really have to go through and how we take so much for
granted. I know we've all heard this before and we see it on tv and
our parents preach it to us everyday. But taking yourself out of your
own comfort zone and being a part of something selfless really can
change someones ideology on life and how the everyday "BS" that we
make such a big deal about is not really a big deal when you surround
yourself with people who's needs are greater than yours.

Today, we were inspired by a homeless man... and even though he had
nothing to give us, he offered us words of sound advice and

I think the biggest gift you can give someone, is the gift of giving.
Chandni has given me the opportunity to give back in ways I never
thought would be possible. I admire her in every way and can't be
thankful enough for letting me be a part of project 365. If anyone of
you have just one day to be a part of this project, take advantage of
it. It's something you'll never regret doing.

~ Raksha

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 115

I stopped at SafeHouse this evening before going out of town for the week. It started like most days there, hanging out on the lot, talking to anyone and everyone. But when service started I was in the kitchen helping put together the meal.

The group that came by today made meatball subs, and they served it with a side of fruit and oreo cookies. They usually come in a big group but today there were only four volunteers. So I was able to help out some. We were just a little bit behind schedule, but everyone waited patiently as we made food boxes for them. We made over 200 meals, so everyone got seconds and even thirds!

Highlight of the day: watching one of the guys sing and dance after service - he was having a good time!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 114

After an afternoon of Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons I headed over to SafeHouse to hang out for the evening. Being Easter Sunday, there was a smaller crowd (one of the guys explained this was because there were churches serving meals everywhere). It was nice out so I stayed on the lot and just hung out with everyone.

Conversations went from hair braiding, to food, to fashion and tattoos with my six-year old buddy. One of the guys from before is back (he was the quiet one). He's gone back to being quiet but before I left he called me over to talk for a few minutes; hoping to eventually have a full conversation with him.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 113

So while I was away Dona and Raksha signed US up to help with this morning's pancake breakfast at SafeHouse. However, after a fun night out, I was the only one who made it! Lol

I've been wanting to make it to these breakfasts and finally had my chance! J. Christopher's was there with bacon and eggs and a student group from GA Perimeter College brought the pancakes. We set up the tables inside for a sit-down meal. Some of us stayed at SafeHouse to make the meal, while others went to the nearby parks to invite people in for breakfast.

People came in, sat down, and were served - it was wonderful! I was helping out in the kitchen for the most part but eventually made it out to talk with a few people. One of the guys I spoke to today talked to me about stereotypes and being profiled. If anyone could talk about stereotypes, it would be these guys.

He was telling me about his job - passing out business cards for a new store downtown. As he was doing this he approached a group of people on a parking lot to tell them about the store. When he was done he started to walk off, but a couple of officers approached him, and asked if he had a car. He responded no. They then asked why he was on the parking lot. He explained what he was doing and they basically told him he was not allowed to walk on the lot if he did not have a car.

I've cut across parking lots several times, never hesitating to think about it, and was never told that I was only allowed to be on the lot if I had a vehicle.  But then again I'm just an indian girl.  But people who are homeless get stopped for the smallest things, not because of what they're doing or what they've done.  But mostly because they are homeless. We're exhausted when we have to prove ourselves once or twice with the amenities and luxuries we have. Imagine not having anything and having to constantly prove yourself to everyone in society! We fail to remember that within each section of society there will be a few people that are bad, but the majority are good - the same rule applies to people who are homeless...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 112

Of course tonight was unlike any other volunteer opportunity brought to Project 365... Go ahead, take a stab at why? 

Anyone say Raksha? Yep! That's why! Lol!

Background: A few weeks ago, Raksha had introduced us to Jeff Coleman at SHO... If you've been reading Chandni's previous blog, this is the Jeff that brought the barbers over to SHO. 

Raksha and Jeff told us a little bit about a fundraising event they were organizing to raise funds for The Atlanta Women's Shelter and CHOICES (Center Helping Obesity In Children End Successfully).

By the time they'd done telling us about the upcoming event, LaBlanc and I found our selves MC'ing!

After weeks of planning, running last minute errands, writing out a script, throwing the script out the window... The event was successful!

There was a wonderful African dance ensemble that put Beyonce to shame... They had the entire crown tap pin on tables and glasses, like we were part of the cast on Stomp!

LaBlanc did a Fabulous job hosting the awards and saving our presentation every time I decided to go off script! Thanks!

The after party was at... Sutra (hehe... Did you really think we'd be anywhere else?) 
We ran into other part-time volunteers, talked about new volunteering opportunities, and hopefully recruited new volunteers to join our efforts!

Great night. Great cause. Great Friends.
~ Dona

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 111

I had another wonderful evening at SafeHouse! I started the evening off talking to someone new. We talked a lot about his past and how he got to where he is today, he also talked to me about how he likes to be a positive role model for others on the streets (in terms of not being aggressive and not using drugs). I've seen him at SafeHouse many times and he's always laughing and having conversations with different people.

Once our conversation was done, there were a couple of familiar faces waiting for me, so I made my rounds talking to everyone. There was a lot of laughing and joking around, as usual. Conversations went from family bonds, to volunteering, to jobs, to health. Random but so interesting!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 110

I spent the evening at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. There were a couple of regulars in the warehouse, so while we waited for tonight's group we stacked boxes that would be filled later. We then started the process of pulling food, sorting, and packing. Once the group came in I moved back to my regular spot at the scales.

Today's group was made up of international students from GA Tech. A lot of them came with friends so there were some different languages spoken as we worked. The regulars that were there were really really familiar with the process, especially with sorting and figuring out the miscellaneous items. So I got to learn a lot from them. In 2hours, we packed 6790lbs of food, which would make approximately 4526 meals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 109

It was a quieter night at Kashi today, even with the many volunteers. I helped put together bags: napkins, juice, crackers, and a PBJ sandwich. Once again, about 300 sandwiches in less than an hour! There was a group of GA Tech students there this evening who were part of a club called Circle K. They basically do different service projects in the community throughout the year. It's fun volunteering with them because you meet a lot of people from different backgrounds, with different interests. Makes for a good night of volunteering!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 108

I'm back from the beach and was really excited to go volunteer today! I missed it and am happy to be back. Of course I chose to come back and go to SafeHouse. It was a great night to be there! Jeff (a friend of Raksha's who came out to volunteer a few weeks back) came out tonight too and brought barbers - David and Randy - with him!

So I arrive to a group of men lined up at one end of the lot, waiting for a haircut. Once Jeff, David, and Randy arrived they got straight to work! They were awesome! They really gave each person their attention, the guys were all talking and having a good time - it almost felt like they were at a barber shop!

While people were getting their haircuts I walked around and caught up with all my familiar faces. We talked about the beach, how they were doing, politics, religion, gangs, and much more. I'm glad I got to chat with most of them today and am looking forward to my next visit there.

Jeff - thank you sooo much for getting all this together. David and Randy - the guys were so appreciative; thank you for giving your time today!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 107

My coworker, Maliha, covered for us this weekend! And BOY did she do it do it BIG! Maliha brought in 60 middle school students to Global Soap on Sunday and accomplished great things! I've never known GSP to be open on a Sunday, but who could say no to that?? She said they had a wonderful time, and they did absolutely amazingly... But I'll let her tell the story... From Maliha:
"Peace is in my heart... Peace... Peace is in my heart"

Derek at the Global Soap Project taught me along with 60 students this Swahili song after the service project was over. In a large circle we sang, danced, and clapped as we celebrated the work we had done today. We helped create 2,000 bars of soap that will go to Haiti and Kenya. It was not only a great learning experience for me, but 60 other students were able to learn the importance of a little bar of soap that saves lives overseas. After the peeling and mixing and creation of soap, I stopped to have a conversation with Derek. He really does have peace in his heart to do the work that he does. He is a true inspiration. I discussed some of the logistics with Derek regarding the packaging and he mentioned something so astonishing. The bars of soap do not get packaged before they are sent over to Africa because the value of soap is so high that it gets stolen and sold in the black market there. That causes stress on the economy of these countries so to avoid that he sends the soaps in a cardboard box just as we leave them. I respect the thoughtfulness of this entire process. "
~ Maliha

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 106

Hi all!! Cyn, Dona's cousin from Canada....So, Jamal, Jennifer, Sarah and I did our part this morning to provide support 365daysofgiving2011! Our goal was to fundraise $75 per person and climb the whopping 1776 stairs or 144 flights of stairs to the top of the CN Tower! Collectively, we raised a total of $540 (WOW!) proceeds of which go to organization that works to protect and conserve wildlife, endangered species and conserve our natural habitat and ecosystem. So my cold and rainy day starts of at 6:30am today, grabbed my Starbucks on the way downtown and met up with Jen, Sarah and Jamal on Front Street by 7:30am to walk up to the CN Tower atrium to register, submit our pledge forms and check our coats. We then jogged over to the CN Tower (about 2 mins) to beat the weather and not mess up our "hair" to a cheering squad of supporters cheering us on as we headed towards the stairs. The energy and enthusiasm to support us on our quest truly was Amazing!! Wait...need bathroom check to fix ourselves and make sure we look purdy coz u never know who we'll meet along the way! lol So, we finally get to those long awaited stairs to begin our journey...We get our cards, provided at registration, punched to clock our start time and here we go! Sarah and Jamal were gone in a few seconds while Jen and I took our time one step at a time. By about the 15th stair, we were already Exhausted...we clearly haven't made it up even 2 flights and have a whole lot more to go! So, we stop off to do some leg stretches and continue with the rest of the "climbers" on our journey to the top taking breaks every so often and being greeted by paramedics every few flight of stairs should somebody need help. A nice touch was the pics up on the walls encouraging us on our climb and educating us along the way on our environment/endangered species. As we kept going the air got thinner and breathing gets a little challenging, ears start popping, pressure builds up in your head due to the altitude and lack of proper oxygen..the key is to take long consistent breaths and keep going. Thanks Jen! :) By about the 56th flight, i lost Jen who decided she was going to keep trekking on so needless, to say i took my time and clearly had the scenic route to the top which included two projectile vomits and a young lady going through convulsions that required paramedic help...yikes! By about the 134th flight of stairs, i met this lovely young lady who was cheering our group now i really needed this to complete my last stretch! I finally make it to the top of the stairs, get my card punched to clock my finish time @ 35 minutes and 11 seconds and walk up a few more side steps to finally make it to the top of the CN Tower! Woohoo!! Finally, its over and it was such a great experience that i feel like i could do it all over again! We are provided water at the top (note: no water, ipods, phones or any gadgets during the climb) and take the elevator down to the bottom. We then go back to registration to get our actual times recorded and collect our T-shirt souvenirs with our times.

Leading the pack apparently was Jamal with "20 minutes :39 seconds"...NOT! it was a typo by the WWF Staff when recording the number on the Jamal "actually" comes in @ 28:39 so Sarah really leads the pack @ 25:28 and Jennifer @ 29:43! Overall, we had great laughs, supported a Great cause and will do it all over again in a heartbeat! Look out for us in a few! :)

Please see link Below to learn more about WWF-Canada!

WWF-Canada :


Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 105

Chandni's finally taking a vacation!!!! Without us. Which probably makes for a real vacation!

So while our one woman army is recuperating, Raksha, myself, Cynthia (my cousin in Canada), Maliha (my co-worker), and the rest of us will be covering the weekend volunteering shift!

Raksha and I, after an evening of sushi and wine at Ra, arrived at SHO to an amazing scene! We'd setup outside on the parking lot to host our clients and choir. The choir was from a college up in North GA. The women sang with a lot of passion and so well!

The lot was full of regulars, and new people! The new girl was there again today! I saw her first on day 100, and again tonight. I've never met someone so chipper and sweet! She'd got the cutest hair, and the sweetest smile ever!

Raksha helped breakdown and clean-up, while I continued to talk to a friend of mine about the history this country was built upon.

Of course, EVERYONE, asked for and missed Chandni.... But they thought we were equally amusing!

It was a great night!
Raksha and I had a blast with our friends at SHO.

Tomorrow I pack and hunt for apartments, and Raksha has some editing to do; but stay tuned for Cynthia's dramatic tale of how she climbs the CN tower to raise funds for charity.

Trust me. This. Will. Be. Entertaining!

Have a good night everyone! And remember, you can give back in any way, shape, and form... The world presents each individual with a plethora of opportunities to be unselfish (is that the term)... Oooh or... compassionate to another individual without themselves benefiting from the experience. Seize those opportunities, because every moment of it is simply fantastic!

The Choir - picture courtesy of Lablanc
The crowd - picture courtesy of Lablanc

Dona and Raksha

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 104

I visited care2 today and clicked on all the click to donate tabs: helping children in need, saving the rainforest, saving big cat habitat, supporting research for breast cancer, feeding pets in need, defending baby seals, rescuing ocean wildlife, feeding rescued primates, helping to stop global warming, helping to stop violence against women, and protecting threatened wolves. We're all passionate about different causes and this site caters to almost all of us! Do check them out!

I went on to sign petitions:
  • The first was for teachers. StudentsFirst is launching a national campaign to save teachers from the upcoming wave of layoffs before they lose their jobs and kids lose their great teachers. Over 14,400 people have signed the petition so far.
  • Then baby seals...Canada's 2011 commercial harp seal hunt has begun, and the government of Canada has sanctioned the slaughter of 400,000 baby seals! It's terrible to imagine: The merciless slaughter of baby seals has started on the ice floes off Canada's east coast -- completely defenseless animals beaten and shot to death for their fur. It's the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. And most of them are babies: 97 percent of those killed are pups less than three months old. 
  • The next one was regarding insurance - Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to impose a required review for insurance rate increases over 10 percent. But America's Health Insurance Plan (AHIP) says the 10 percent review level is unreasonable. They want to delay effective regulation for one year, until July 2012, and adjust the regulations for states that won't meet the requirements for effective review. 
  • The last one for today was asking Chinese authorities to respect human rights of Kirti Monks. Tibetans are entitled to the same human rights as any other people; the freedoms of expression, cultural identity, religion, and all the other rights enumerated in the world's human rights treaties and conventions. I was the first to sign that petition. Hope you guys get a chance to visit the site and show your support!
I did another click to donate spree at thehungersite and clicked on the tabs for hunger, breast cancer, animal rescue, veterans, child health, literacy, and the rainforest.

It takes just a few minutes but has a huge impact. Try it out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 103

Had an amazing time at SafeHouse this evening! I got to catch up with a lot of people and had some fun conversations about family, traveling, relationships, the beach, and being positive. I spent most of the evening on the lot, said hello to everyone I knew (and met some new people), and enjoyed the weather and the company.

My six year old buddy was there this evening too. He was telling me about his long day; he has quite the imagination! And even after his "long day" he had all this energy to run around the lot! Another fun night; looking forward to going back soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 102

I went back to Kashi this evening and helped make PBJ sandwiches. There was a smaller group of volunteers this evening, including a few children, so it was quieter than usual. We went through 25 loaves of bread, 4 big tubs of peanut butter, and 2 big cans (industrial size) of jelly in an hour. All the sandwiches are taken to the shelter (where some of my SafeHouse friends stay) tomorrow morning.

While working, a couple of us chatted about clubs and lounges in the city. I told them about my favorite spot, Sutra, of course. We talked about music and food and festivals in the park. I learned about some local coffee shops in the area. Overall, a very relaxed evening of volunteering :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 101

After being on the road for two hours I made it to SafeHouse just in time to enjoy socializing before service. I talked to the gentleman who volunteers with some other organizations. Today he cleaned up the flower bed on the lot and talked to me about gardening and what he would like to plant there. He knows a lot about gardening so I am looking forward to what he does.

I spent some time with one of the ladies and we talked about friendships and trust. She also pointed out several people on the lot and told me a little about each person. She had some stories! It's interesting hearing about the interpersonal dynamics that go on outside of SafeHouse. One of the guys I hadn't seen in a while was back today so we got to catch up. He has been looking for a job so we chatted about that and just how he was doing overall. He is really polite and caring and that comes across from his interactions with others.

Overall, a night of great conversations, good catch up sessions, and lots of laughing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 100

We've made it through 100 days of giving!! Yay!! In honor of the 100 day mark, Dona and I took sorbet and ice cream (courtesy of High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet - visit their store and sample their delicious and creative ice cream and sorbet flavors) to SafeHouse this evening. The people at High Road are amazing! I had to send them a last minute request Thursday evening for an ice cream donation. Friday evening they said yes - they made my day! And when I picked it up they were so generous! They gave us 4 trays of sorbet and ice cream.

Dona and I set up outside on the lot, and when the gate was opened people lined up for their pick of ice cream or sorbet. The favorites were pistachio ice cream and strawberry sorbet. Almost everyone came back for seconds, thirds, and even fourth servings. And the more they came by the more creative they got with mixing flavors. We served till we ran out, and once we were done serving, we spent the rest of the evening on the lot socializing with everyone.

This project started as one of my crazy ideas and has become much bigger than I ever imagined. It really doesn't feel like it's been that long since we started Project 365 and I'm still in shock about it being Day 100. We couldn't have made it without all your support, whether it's coming out to help, helping us find donations and resources, telling us about new volunteer opportunities, reading the blog or cheering us on. THANK YOU!

Serving Ice Cream & Sorbet

My 6year old buddy

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 99

It has been a great day of giving! We started the morning with the MS walk at Piedmont Park.

The walk is the rallying point of the MS movement, a community coming together to raise funds and celebrate hope for the future. All money raised helps drive critical research for a cure and services that address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.
Dona started her good deeds with wake up calls for everyone at 630am! We then all (well... almost all) met at the Park at 9:30 to get started with the walk. There were so many people out to support the movement - it was amazing!

It's funny that we all rallied together to support Fay Gibson, Raksha's Friend. And our little rockstar, Raksha was nowhere to be found at 9am! RAKSHA GOT LOST AND CLAIMS SHE WALKED 20K!! We believe that once she was confident that everyone was going to be there, and everything was in order, she went and got breakfast!

So many of our friends came out to walk with us so Raksha, Dona and I would like to say THANK YOU: Kelsi, Onyx (and Meredith), LeBlanc, Vern, Vikas, Lubna, Dyuti, Nehal, Samir, Shumaila, Maliha, and Jessica!!! You guys made this event phenomenal. We appreciate you guys giving up your Saturday morning to walk with us!

Day 100 is tomorrow and we couldn't have asked for a better Day 99 to kick off the celebration.
We're enjoying the rest of the day with our favorites and then heading out to Sutra Lounge in Midtown to continue celebrating this milestone! Everyone's welcome :)
Tomorrow we celebrate our 100th day with SHO. High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet was able to donate ice cream for tomorrow, so we're all set to serve.

You're welcome to join us there as well!

~ Dona & Chandni

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 98

I had an awesome night at SafeHouse again! Didn't make it inside the building...again. I spent all evening on the lot talking to some of the guys and also making some new friends. It started with the gentleman who is spiritual - we talked about the spiritual purpose of various birds...and then before he went inside he said that I would eventually write a book...hmmm...

I talked to the gentleman who volunteers at various places. He gave me some really good news - he got a job! So we spoke a little about that and about his next few weeks of volunteer opportunities. It's amazing how much he does!!

I spent some time talking to a gentleman who comes by most nights, gets his meal, then helps clean up the lot before leaving. He doesn't do it in return for anything. He just does it. So today I got to know him a little bit (as we cleaned) and when I asked why he always stays to clean up, he responded it was just to help out. He's really sweet, very kind, and always has a gentle smile on his face.

Met a couple of other guys today, hopefully I'll see them again next time, and start to get to know them too!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 97

The "plan" was for me to go apartment hunting for the remainder of the day, and work at night. The "plan" was for Chandni to cook dinner for the boys at home and do some volunteering.

Well, then Raksha happened. Sigh, and anytime Raksha happens... we're swept up in this whirlwind of carefree adventure full of laughter!

And we end up changing all our plans to be at SHO!! Yaaaaaay!!

For the first time ever, we didn't make it inside! The church group hosting the night brought an army of volunteers, so there was no need for us to be inside.

We saw a few familiar faces, so we pulled up chairs and sat around talking about everything from The Fabulous Five of Michigan state, cultural differences amongst us, FOOD ( planning a cook out), new volunteer opportunities, music, and so much more!

Although Chandni's generally the one recruiting volunteers for SHO, tonight Raksha brought Jeff. And then she conned, ahem... err... convinced LeBlanc and Vearn from SHO to join our walk for MS on Saturday!

We're slowly nearing day 100! Sunday we hope to have either ice-cream or cake at SHO. We're actually at Cafe Intermezzo right now negotiating terms and prices.

But we will be ringing in Day 100 with drinks and dancing at Sutra (of course).

So join us for the walk on Saturday at Piedmont Park at 9:00am, then brunch someplace close, and drinks later that night!

Thank you for all of your support, encouragement, and kind words of encouragement! You (friends, family, even the random people that share our sentiment and mission...) keep us going!

Happy volunteering!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 96

I made it to SafeHouse from Milledgeville just in time to help with putting together this evening's meal. The church that was going to serve was not able to make it. Someone was nice enough to donate burgers, the rolls, chips, and cookies. So some of the folks from outside came in to help put the meal together. We made about 160plates in less than an hour! We had an assembly line type of set up and just kept going till we ran out of food.

I then handed out hygiene kits (bag of soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner) to anyone that wanted one. They went quick!

I saw some familiar faces, so said hello to everyone, but didn't get to have long conversations today. Hopefully do that next time I'm there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 95

It was a day for freerice and polishing up on my vocabulary. After defining words like ghee, kith, tandoor, geomancy, and osculate I donated 5000grains of rice. While on the freerice website, I learned a little more about where the rice goes to:

The UN World Food Programme works around the globe and Freerice donations are made with no restrictions. This freedom of use allows them to apply the donations to countries that need it most, often those that don't make the headlines in the news, yet where chronic hunger continues unchecked.
Often World Food Programme is able to purchase the rice in the very countries where the beneficiaries are located, cutting down on the transport time to reach the hungry and helping to stimulate local economies at the same time. Here are some examples of where Freerice rice has been distributed:
  • In Bangladesh, to feed 27,000 refugees from Myanmar for two weeks.
  • In Cambodia, to provide take-home rations of four kilograms of rice for two months to 13,500 pregnant and nursing women.
  • In Uganda, to feed 66,000 school children for a week.
  • In Nepal, to feed over 108,000 Bhutanese refugees for three days.
  • In Bhutan, to feed 41,000 children for 8 days.
  • In Myanmar, to feed 750,000 cyclone affected people for 3 days.

In an hour I was able to donate 5000grains of rice, how much can you do in an hour??

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 94

I wrote some more emails through Amnesty International this evening using their pre-filled forms and typing my own letters for action. Here are the issues I focused on today:

Avtar Singh, a retired Indian Army major was arrested in California on domestic violence charges. The letter asked that he be extradited to India to face murder charges for his involvement in the murder of human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi - a Kashmiri lawyer and activist, who exposed a number of human rights violations by India’s security forces in Kashmir in the early 1990s. He was last seen on March 8, 1996 when he was taken away by Srinagar based military personnel who were led at that time by Major Singh. Nineteen days later, his dead body was found in the river Jhelum.

A Libyan woman, Eman al-Obaidi, who was detained after alleging that she was raped by members of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s forces, has been released. However, she is still concerned for her own safety and has been prevented from leaving Tripoli. The letter urged Libyan authorities to ensure Eman el-Obeidi’s right to freedom of movement and that they conduct an immediate, full and thorough independent investigation into her alleged rape and other torture and ill-treatment by members of the Libyan security forces and to bring those responsible to justice.

Two leaders of the social justice movement Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, are being sought by police. They are at risk of arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment. On 12 February, WOZA staged its ninth annual Valentine's Day peaceful protest in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. Since then police officers have paid regular visits to the homes of Williams and Mahlangu, attempting to find them. Officers have also contacted a human rights lawyer, demanding he bring the two WOZA leaders to Bulawayo Central Police station. The officer reportedly stated that the two 'must prepare themselves for a long detention'. However, police have given no indication of the reasons why they are searching for the two WOZA leaders, causing fears that the two could be arbitrarily arrested and detained. Since February police appear to have launched a crackdown in which human rights activists across the country, including WOZA members, have been systematically targeted.

A 20-year-old man, Manik, is at risk of torture and extrajudicial execution in Bangladesh after being arrested on 8 March 2011. He was showing his relatives the place where his elder brother was killed on 12 February 2011, allegedly by plain clothes men in a special police force, Rapid Action Batallion (RAB). The letter urged that Manik not be subjected to torture by the RAB or other police personnel;  that he is released immediately and unconditionally, unless he is charged with a recognizably
criminal offense; and that a thorough, independent and impartial investigation is carried out into the death of Shahid, and any RAB or police personnel known to have committed extrajudicial execution, or other human rights violations against him, are brought to justice.

Lastly, urging authorities to prevent any attempt to drive residents of Lomas del Poleo off their land, and to ensure the land dispute is resolved fairly and satisfactorily in the Agrarian Tribunal. People living in Lomas del Poleo have been harassed and attacked since 2003 by men working for the landowner, who has tried to force them off land they have lived on for decades. The security guards have been menacing people living in an area of the northern state of Chihuahua. Many have fled the area, but the seven families still living there are now at renewed risk of attack. The guards are using several intimidation tactics: walking around the houses and firing into the air; firing at the houses and around the school; and driving around the houses in the middle of the night.

Again, this takes very little time but has a huge impact. I hope you have a chance to visit their site and act for human rights!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 93

I went back to a very busy SafeHouse this evening. By the time I got there service had begun. The lot was filled with cars and once I made it in I saw the crowd of volunteers in the kitchen and in the main room. It was great seeing that many people come out to volunteer! They had the food packed in boxes, and all the boxes neatly stacked up ready to serve - they are experts at this!

I talked to the gentleman who is interested in the stock market today as well. Today we talked about some interpersonal things - trust and respect between people, helping others, people being genuine, and people being themselves. I also met another individual who talked to me for a couple of minutes about jobs and doing what you enjoy versus doing what gets you a lot of money. He supported the latter for now.

Over the past few months I've really seen the impact SafeHouse has, not just on the homeless, but on the volunteers as well. SafeHouse truly is filling some of the most basic needs for a lot of people, and sometimes its just making someone feel like a person, giving them respect and validating who they are. The staff there are great at this (in addition to making sure each night runs smoothly). I've been able to learn a lot from them and appreciate everything they do! So here's a big thank you to them!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 92

It was a quiet night at SafeHouse this evening and many of the familiar faces were missing. I spent some time talking with the gentleman who is interested in the stock market - we chatted about stock markets in different countries and then about diamonds and construction.

The church group there this evening was a young group and for most of them, their first time at SafeHouse. They were an enthusiastic group and were very organized. They did a really good job serving and interacting with the individuals there. One of the volunteers teared up when she heard one gentleman ask if he could get a plate for his wife (who was outside). When we talked later she expressed that she was humbled to see someone who is going through a tough time still care about the relationships in his life, whereas some people who have everything (material) don't value the relationships in their life. It was great seeing the impact SafeHouse had on her today!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 91

Raksha and I were running a muck around the city, and we had to stop by the bank to get some cash out for the rest of the evening, Our sweet little teller enlisted us to donate to March of Dimes before we left. We wanted a little time to ourselves tonight, and since Chandni was driving back from Augusta I decided to do a little virtual volunteering Since we're often on - we now receive emails from them periodically. With all the junk I get, I generally (and I'm ashamed to say it) either delete it or ignore it, but for some reason I opened up the email. The email was from World Food Hunger - who brings us, asking us to take their "Emergency Quiz". The organization through their sponsors/advertising company, committed to feeding a child a warm meal for each person that completed the quiz. The quiz only had a few questions on there, but it certainly shed some light on all the different world crisis at hand. I hope you guys can take the quiz with us, it's a matter of minutes and you may just learn something... Click here to, TAKE THE QUIZ and FEED A CHILD!