Putting a smile on people’s faces

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Charity organisation Ozindcare marks twenty years of selfless service

Photo: Binu Naikaraparambil

Little drops of water, as they say, make the mighty ocean. This is one such story – that of a Sydney based not-for-profit charitable organisation named Ozindcare. The little deeds of kindness that its volunteers and supporters have completed have made sure that the hungry are fed and the naked are clothed in India, Australia and many other countries of the world.

Ozindcare boasts a highly structured, methodical manner of operation, and the consistency of the commitment that it exhibits has gathered many supporters over the past 20 years of its existence.

Leslie Bonney, a founding member of the organisation, sat down with Indian Link to walk us through the journey of the organisation.

“Ozindcare came into effect from the realisation that life is not fair,” Bonney said. “A few of us wanted to do something for the many helpless people that we have around us. As we shared our intention with others, we realised that there were many likeminded people. People were ready to chip in and do their bit, but they wanted a reliable, common platform. We asked ourselves – why don’t we start one?”

Being a highly transparent organisation with no strict rules on how to give and what to give, it is not surprising that a lot of people could relate to Ozindcare’s policy.

“We were all very ordinary people, who did not have any prior experience in organising programs of this kind,” Bonney explained.

Today, it is this reputation of being “ordinary” that has made it extraordinary. There is only one hard and fast rule in this fraternity – there are no administration charges, and that way every dollar that gets donated should reach the deserving.

Given that the first service of the organisation was sending quality used clothes to India, Ozindcare has certainly come a long way. In terms of numbers, collecting and distributing more than $200,000 over a period of 20 years is no mean feat. What adds to its glory is the fact that the organisation has stayed independent of political or religious affiliation and has never had a paid employee since its inception in 1995.

Leslie Bonney shared an interesting memory. Recently, the organisation asked its supporters to complete a survey on what aligns them with Ozindcare. Among the answers was that people appreciated the groundwork that Ozindcare puts into identifying the real needy. It was an amazing testament to how much people trust its process of scrutinising every single request before acting on it.

Ozindcare does not just help organisations and institutions, it also extends its helping hands to deserving individuals. Helping to set up lives all over the world, it has donated autorickshaws, sewing machines, bicycles and even domestic animals. Small scale businesses, medical treatment and studies for the needy have also been financed.

Money is collected through fundraising events, food festivals, donations and membership fees, mainly from the Indian-Australian community. A few of the beneficiaries that volunteers and supporters have generously helped through Ozindcare include Janaseva Sisubhavan in Kerala, Udavum Karangal in Tamil Nadu, Sevabharati, and Bethany Sisters for rehabilitation of cyclone victims in Orissa. Funds have also gone to Abhavam (a lunch program for poor school children in Bangalore), Sharan (a drug rehab program in Mumbai), Navjeevan Centre Mumbai and Foundation Bangalore (financing their free midday meal for poor children).

When a tsunami hit Papua New Guinea in 1998, Ozindcare was one of the first organisations to respond to the call for help. Not all their work is about helping the needy who are miles away though. Ozindcare also believes in giving back to the community that we live in. McArthur Cancer Council, Liverpool Hospital, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind in Sydney, and Northwest Disability Services have also been recipients of their generosity.

In late June, Ozindcare staged a 20th anniversary event called ‘Art of India’ showcasing the essence of a diverse and culturally rich India, where one of the most popular acting couples from South India – Parvathy and Jayaram – were the chief guests.

Amidst the glory of the event, Prakash Palakkil, the current President of the organisation, reflected to Indian Link, “Away from all this pomp, what we are absolutely proud of is the fact that all these 20 years, Ozindcare has never even once waivered in its focus. What has kept us going so far is the passion to share the fruits of our labor with the less privileged, and this is what will keep us going In the future too.”

The sparkle in his eyes spoke volumes of his enthusiasm. To ensure that there is a future for all these charitable acts, the organisation has kicked off a youth wing, the purpose of which is to pass on the baton of the noble deeds to the second generation and to give them a solid platform to work from. After all, charity begins at home!

The feeling of warmth that settles in your heart when you come to know that you’ve helped put dinner on someone’s family table, changed someone’s day or made it even brighter – that’s what Ozindcare is all about. All those smiles put together will definitely make the world a better place.

Check out the activities of Ozindcare at www.ozindcare.com

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