This post is a letter shared with us by Adhik Kadam from the Borderless World Foundation. For the last 15+ years, Adhik and his organization have brought real change to the lives of girls orphaned by the violence in the Kashmir valley. He describes his journey and also the challenges he faces raising money to bring a safe home for more orphaned girls in the valley. Please consider supporting his project through Asha Dandiya 2015 — all proceeds from the event will go towards the Borderless World Foundation.
My name is Adhik Kadam; in Kashmir all our children call me ‘Bhaiyya’ and thus the Kashmir community and my all friends call me “Adhik Bhaiyya”. I have been working in Kashmir since 1997– that was the first year of my graduation. In my first study tour to Kashmir I was able to understand the grave situation that the whole Jammu & Kashmir state was going through due to ongoing violence. I could not control my decision to stay back in Kashmir and work for the society as much as I could. Since 1997-2001, I worked on various subjects, especially how conflict impacts lives and how it also impacts the peace of everyone. I worked during the Kargil war for civilians and experienced their pain. After researching many things, I decided to concentrate on children, as children are the worst affected and also the future of society. A UNICEF funded survey was really helpful to understand the situation of children and how they are being dragged into the ongoing conflict as potential recruits. And thus, I decided to start a home for children, especially girls as there was no such girls home available in the entire state.
We started a home in the Kupwara District in 2002 with 4 girls and today the same home has 53 girls with 8 support staff. Similarly, we have 3 more homes; including the Kupwara home, we now have 4 homes with 30 people working as staff and nearly 178 girls living together. Lodging, boarding and formal education is part of the life of all these children, but more than that these homes are there to help children in their physical life, and also to heal their spirits as they need to come out from severe trauma.
Today, all homes are running well but there are many such children who need such support that we couldn’t support. Our homes have very little space as they are on rent and we couldn’t build it as per our need. We started buying land and have been able to buy land at 2 locations in Kupwara and Beerwah. If we can build all these 4 homes we can support atleast 1000+ girls in the community.
Asha has been supporting BWF for more than decade now and it is absolutely a lovely friendship we experience from Asha. We are fortunate that we able to have such a good friends from Asha. In the year 2013 Asha called me for the Asha Conference held in Princeton University, and also in other various chapters like Stanford, Berkely, Georgia Tech and Silicon Valley. Asha also organized to meet some more partner organizations in the USA. When I first visited USA in 2013 with the help of Asha, I had not asked for any money and only asked for strong friendship and prayers. Which Asha responded well and I believe Asha-BWF will have such strong friendship in future as there are many children who have benefited by this bonding.
In 2015, I come to USA again for an Asha Conference held in the University of Gainsville, Flordia and I presented our BWF activities and our work done report to all Asha members. But this time I am not only going to ask friendship & prayers but also I am going to request for financial support to build home of our children and educational sponsorship to more girls. Thus, I decided when I left Kashmir for USA, I will find at least 100 friends/donors/well-wishers who can support BWF at least yearly with 1000 dollars. And if I able to build such 100 members for BWF family, then I may able to build home for children and can adopt more girls in the home. In Kashmir there are still 2+ lacs (200,000) orphans who need support on various level and we may able to take responsibility of thousands through our homes.
When this time I reached Bay Area, I met our Asha runners group and bikers Group where I met many Asha supporters and they cherished my presence here. I appreciate all their prayers and all good chat. As I met the bikers group of Asha, I decided to be with them for some time as they are doing all such a sporty drive to raise awareness and bring support to Indian kids for their education. Thus, I too decided to participate in the 35 mile ride. When I completed that ride on the very heavy bike, everyone appreciated my efforts.
Then I thought why not participate in next 100 mile drive. My close friends were a little bit confused and were suggesting that I do the 100 K ride instead, but my heart was in a different mode. When I came to USA to find at least 100 friends who can be the regular donors and donate at least $1000, a goal I am still not able to complete despite trying over the last 54 days: I am able to reach the real people. Every passing day it is difficult to understand that it is not easy to just find 100 such friends in the USA who want to be the part of this mission, but also I feel that day by day it is getting difficult to sit idle and wait for someone’s call. Last week when I finished first 35 mile ride, the week was also not very good to me as my faith about building 100 friends was becoming foggier.
For my whole life it has been absolutely clear to me that I live in the moment to moment: I decided last week after the 35 mile ride not to live in this foggy situation and cross it immediately. Definitely, my faith was upset somewhere, but to come out from it needs something which cannot make you forget your roots and is refreshing and builds your mission again.
Thus, when I heard 100 mile ride, my mind connects with my wish of having 100 friends of USA. And I decided to go for it. All my dear ones and even Asha friends were asking me not to go for it but also some of our friends were having faith, that I may do it. I rode Indian cycle 2 years before 1997, but after that, for the last 18 years I did not even touch a cycle, as it is practically not possible to ride in the Himalayan ranges. After 18 years when again I started, with 35 mile, one Asha friend helped with his old bike where I learned for the first time how to ride a gear bike and also learned how to change it. For the 100 mile ride, I started with another bike, I actually tried to understand the gear system while driving it. I was unable to change reverse gear and spent the first hour to understand the bike/cycle well and I learnt. On my way, I watched many farms that gave me many ideas about the agriculture field which I will definitely share with our farmers in Maharashtra who due to less water or drought are giving up their life for just Rs 15,000.
YES, I did it. It is not 100 miles but it is actually 108+ miles as I lost my way on the road 4 times and then again came back on track.
This whole ride was nothing but to build and refresh my own faith. Yes, I am here for 3 more months and I will strongly work towards my objective as it will help build the lives of many children.
Asha is helping our children since many years, but for the first time Asha helped me to come out from my unclear or hazy thoughts.
Today, I am writing this note to express my gratitude and I am thankful to all Asha friends from the bottom of my heart.