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Lokvani Talks To Rajesh Vaidheeswarran

Ranjani Saigal

Aparna Balaji and her students will be presenting a grand music recital . This will be followed by a grand music recital. Ranjani Saigal, Neha Parikh, Sridevi Thirumalai and their students will be presenting a grand dance recital to live music featuring compositions of Adi Shankara, presented by Aparna Balaji, her students accompanied by Amritha Mangalat, Prayuth Naduthota and Gaurish on Oct 30,  at 3:00 pm at the Keefe Technical High School, 750 Winter Street in Framingham. The event is a fundraiser for the Hindu Mission Hospital.

You may buy tickets at Lokvani - http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/cal.php?stage=1&event_id=7741

Rajesh Vaidheeswarran, a volunteer for the Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation USA talked to Lokvani about Hindu Mission Hospital .

Could you tell us a little about KKSFUSA?

KKSF USA stands for Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation USA (http://www.kksfusa.org/) and they support a lot of charitable causes associated directly and indirectly with Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, amongst other things.

You can read more about the history of KKSF USA on their website http://www.kksfusa.org/

You have brought together not just dance teachers, but music teachers along with young but talented musicians and dancers for the fundraiser. Can you tell us the thought behind this kind of an effort?

In a lot of ways, I'm blessed to be in the New England area. The artists in our community are very gracious and giving. Each of the teachers - Aparna, Neha, Ranjani and, Sridevi - involved in this program have sacrificed a lot of their time to help with this effort.

My main motivation in involving dance and music teachers together is to have a program that is traditional, yet different, and appealing to a broad cross section of the community. Each of our teachers brings a unique style, and I thought the interplay will be terrific. But the theme was selected to not just have the teachers perform, but their students perform as well.

The important reason for that is to help our children realize that their kala (art) is not just an amazing form of expression, but with that, they can make a perceptible difference and touch someone's life positively, while they have a lot of fun doing it. And they are already giving a lot - their time and effort, particularly we know how it is for juniors and seniors in high school. And those that I've spoken with are enjoying it as well.

Kids are naturally inclined to be helpful, and if we can help them hone that aspect of themselves, we can help them also understand their dharma, and hopefully it will help them lead fulfilling lives in a social sense as well.
Why did you pick Tridevi Samarpanam as a theme?

Tridevi Samarpanam was a name picked by my wife Deepa, who is also Aparna's student. We were thinking about many different themes, but the one that kept coming back was a Devi themed program. And, how do you say you've paid homage to Devi unless you present Her as Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati? Hence, Tridevi Samarpanam.
What excites you most about this fundraiser ?

Many things excite me.. for instance - the fact that I have the opportunity to be involved in something that will make a difference. However, what excites me most is that so many people from all walks of life have come and offered their help in making this fundraiser a reality, particularly the children. It gives me real hope for our dharma.
What motivated you to work as part of KKSFUSA?

I had interacted with them previously on other occasions and found that they were a fully volunteer organization, with zero overhead, and diligently ensured that the causes they were working raising funds for went directly to the cause. I liked this aspect very much. In fact, both Kanchi Peetam and subsequently KKSF USA have very high standards and rigor when it comes to fund raising. This provides a lot of clarity, and removes much of the ambiguity, from my perspective. So, in some ways, it is harder to raise money, but you know that the money you raise meets a very high bar.

And, the Hindu Mission Hospitals are all run with the blessings of their Holinesses, the Acharyas of Kanchi Peetam. In fact, in a 2009 trip to Kanchipuram, His Holiness Shri Shankaracharya blessed me and asked me if I could help the Hindu Mission Hospital in Trichy.

It was a strangely overwhelming experience, given the background. I was visiting Kanchipuram for the first time in my life as an adult, really trying to understand my dharma and with a lot of questions in my mind. So, in that light, it was amazing that HH Acharya blessed me with this work, having really met me for less than 15 minutes.

When I returned to the USA, I spoke with KKSF, and they were glad to help in the service of this cause as well.

Could you tell us a little about the Hindu Mission Hospital and why you feel it is important to support this effort?

Thank you for this question. First of all, I'd like to say that you can learn a lot about an organization by knowing the vision that was behind its creation, and by the caliber of the people that run it.

The Hindu Mission Hospital in Trichy (http://www.hmhtrichy.com/ - I strongly encourage people to go spend a few minutes on the site) was started in the mid 80s by a very dedicated group of doctors with the sole aim of doing seva (service). Their mission statement was really that simple. Anyone walking into the door will be helped to the extent that the Mission could. So, they setup a small hospital - a 20-bed hospital. All the doctors are volunteers, and all the administrators are volunteers as well. The only paid employees are the nursing, cleaning and security staff.

The hospital is dedicated to providing quality, and really affordable care to its patient population, primarily the needy. In fact, what amazed me was that their overheads are so low that the cost of care in HMH Trichy is an average of $2.50 to treat an outpatient and an average of $5.00 to have an in-patient occupy a bed per day. These are truly remarkable numbers.

Of course, they do many outreach programs and camps as well. In fact, they are increasingly finding from their outreach programs that there are people, particularly amongst the poor, that are very vulnerable to various forms of cancer, and also to heart disease and diabetes. HMH stresses a lot on oral hygiene education, diabetes education, etc.

But, as a charitable organization, an important point to contend with is that if HMH found someone testing positive for cancer, and are unable to help them, they are having to request them to go elsewhere to seek treatment. And, most often, these patients left their ailment untreated because they couldn't afford to get treatment in a for-profit hospital.

After a long and hard look at the best way to provide the most positive impact to the community, HMH decided that they want to add a specialty that focuses on Cancer Care. Heart disease and Diabetes are important, but they are also more adequately addressed in that community than cancer is, and the cost of cancer can be devastating to families, particularly the poor, in very many ways.

This is no small task. This will change the way the HMH operates in some ways, since the outlay is so huge that it can be a self-sustaining operation only if we can provide such good care that the wealthy will choose to come to HMH over some of the other choices they have, and pay for the kind of quality care that is available in a very capable for-profit. That will help us offset the cost of caring for the poor. We want to take this care to where the poor live, literally. A good and capable mobile unit can do wonders to peoples' lives.

Preliminary estimates for the Cancer Care Center run to around $1.1 Million. We appeal to all philanthropic minded individuals and organizations to help us make this a reality.
Any message to our readers?

My message is threefold and simple.

Please mark October 30th on your calendar and come and support the efforts of the participants and help us make a difference (Please go and buy your tickets right here on Lokvani - http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/cal.php?stage=1&event_id=7741

Secondly, please spread the word about the event, the cause (hospital and its needs) and,

Most importantly, please give generously!

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