My Trip To Sirsi & Phanderi – Nasser Jetta

My Trip To Sirsi & Phanderi – Nasser Jetta

My Trip To Sirsi & Phanderi – Nasser Jetta 150 150 Comfort Aid International
Inna lillahi Wa Inna Ilayi Raajeoon the profundity of this beautiful Quraanic
verse hit me most when I lost someone dear to me, without whom I wouldn’t be
here today – my father, Aunali Jetha, my role model. He lost his battle
fighting Leukemia last year. Life hasn’t been the same ever since he passed
away. Being the eldest son, responsibilities hit me head on. I had no time to
prepare myself but accept fate and move on. Not a single day passes by where I
don’t think of him.
mentioned in the Noble Quran, a man’s mission is not just to live a life doing
good deeds but also to have offspring’s who can continue his legacy and spread
the love of Ahlulbayt (A) by giving good examples. In honor of my father, my family
decided to do something that would shine his name perpetually; this is the
least that we could do for him. It is said that the only investment that grows
in time, producing the best results / prosperity / betterment of society is
education, and my father always emphasised on the importance of education.
With the
help of Yusufali (Comfort Aid International) we have been able to fulfill that
commitment. He advised us to sponsor a science wing at an all-girls small
school located in a rural area called Phanderi, a village in Uttar Pradesh,
with many poor sa’daats.
And so,
here I am today, 18th Jan 2014, forcing myself awake at 1:45am to pursue
something that we want to do for our late father. I have an early flight to
catch that would take me to India to attend the inauguration of that wing.
A three day
journey – a matter of 72 hours; enough time to meet different people who become
good friends and make beautiful memories. And so I meet new brothers in faith
with remarkable personalities: Yusufali aka the ‘Ayatollah Londoni’ (as someone
from Afghanistan mistakenly referred his as), Akbarbhai aka the ‘God Father’
and Asgharbhai. Good, down to earth people, with a beautiful mission to help the
poor across India. Wish I could do that too; some day, insha’Allah.
The plan is
to stay at the Bahman Boys Orphanage located inside the massive Sirsi school
complex. The journey to our destination is long, on a cold, rainy and immensely
foggy day from the airport in New Delhi (such a contrast to the pleasant Dubai
weather!). Even so, I experience a lot of warm humour and remarkable moments
during the drive. Right from the amazing parathas
served with a dollop of butter and chai served in a disposable clay pot (some
well deserved traditional desi food) at
a roadside dhabba, to a small stand
selling exotic fruit. The fruit of the day is gulaabi, a tropical East African fruit I have before tasted.
When we
finally arrive at Sirsi, I am moved by the warm welcoming given at the boys orphanage.
Following a well served dinner, though exhausted, we still have room for some
stories and joke time with the men – Yusufali, sharing his many adventures and
trying to convince us that his famous chewro
from New York and juggupak from
Tanzania are the best in the world, while Aliakbarbhai cracks some jokes only
he has the secret of! But what happens in Sirsi stays in Sirsi – all visitors
know this rule…
That’s the
end of DAY ONE!
the weather clears up the next day. I ignore my nagging mind about my usually healthy
diet plan and dig into some traditional Sirsi style breakfast – the pooris are to die for! 
It is time
for some play with the boys after breakfast! Aliakberbhai is very good with his
batting skills, but as cricket isn’t my cup of tea, I am glad the kids agree to
play some serious football (soccer): CANADA vs. UP. Although CANADA team did
score the winning goal, UP’s captain – Sir Saab – aka principal of Bahman
School decided that the goal was not valid. Instead he wanted a replay in the
evening. We couldn’t argue much – after all, who would argue with Sir Saab – he
dons a 22-calibre revolver…
Life in
Sirsi is generally hard, but these boys are blessed to be at the orphanage,
rather than being left uncared in the society. Their future looks bright here.
Amidst the surrounding poverty, there is hope…
It is hard
to imagine the hard life for many poor; especially in underdeveloped countries
like rural India, be it a single mom, a widow, an orphan… Currently CAI is
funding home construction for poor widows. With 7 houses already completed (out
of 50 still under construction), it is time to give them away to the deserving
owners. Their contentment with a sturdy house with bare minimum makes me feel
how incomparably blessed we are.
our visit to the Bahman School, few mosques and ImamBargah, it is dinnertime!
Menu cried out loud: Seekh Kebabs!!! Cold weather, hot kebabs!! HEAVENLY!! A
nice, small gathering with the orphan boys and girls.
As the
little girls wish us goodnight, they invite us for dinner at their orphanage the
following day, which we happily accept. That’s the end of DAY 2.
As I get up
after a night of well-deserved sleep, I am a mix of varied emotions; excited, anxious,
happy… This is what I have come here for; it is the big day, for me.  As we hit the dense foggy roads again, we
witness a few accidents. Indian driving skills – one hand on the horn and the
other on the stick shift, or cellphone or stuffing the mouth with maawo – on a foggy day; what can one
arrival at Phanderi School, we have a relatively lavish welcome – with flowers,
green carpet walk to the stage, students reciting poems, du’aas and a ceremonial gathering with students and parents.
I am here, finally,
standing in front of the veiled plaque outside the science wing. As they unveil
the plaque, a rush of emotion overtakes me on seeing my father’s name. Job very
well done, alhamd’Allah. It makes the whole trip worthwhile. I feel our purpose
is served. May Allah (S) bless his soul.
After lunch
at the Principals house we visit an uncompleted orphanage, where 14 girls are staying,
CAI has undertaken to complete the project. It will house 30 orphans when
In Phanderi,
something else grabs my attention: a traditional ghor (Jaggery) factory. Who hasn’t had ghor with roti in the morning – such a delicacy! The ‘factory’ uses
everything from the sugarcane to good use, including the dried peels, which are
used for fuel. Indian creative engineering at its best!
After lengthy
goodbyes, we head back to Sirsi, where the little girl orphans are waiting to
have dinner with us. The drive back is very challenging, what with dense fog and
almost nil visibility.
We reach the
girl’s orphanage safely, where we were warmly greeted. The girls hardly have
visitors so they are extremely excited to see us. No matter where you go, girls
will be girls. A group of them see my phone and it only takes a click of a
camera to make them smile, to pose, to feel special… so beautiful, so cute!
There is a kid
who grabs my attention: Muskaan (it means smile); a lovely little girl, quite
shy, but always with a smile on her face. She shows off her ‘English’ skills, reciting
what her favorite things in life are. She had some problem with both her eyes.
But thanks to CAI donors, she has one eye cured and the other is scheduled for
surgery soon. Alhamdullilah!
these girls sitting down and eating next to us fills my heart with a sense of
joy and happiness. Suddenly I forget all my problems; if only life was always
like this.
As we return
to the boy’s orphanage to wrap up for the night, Aliakberbhai and Asgharbhai
still have a lot of work to do – accounts, book keeping. It takes a lot of time
and dedication to manage all this hard work. I head to bed with a little
sadness in my heart. My journey is almost at its end; we head back to Delhi the
following day.
I have been
to India for work a few times and every time I come, I always leave with so
many memories and thoughts. But this time, it is very special.
I can go on
writing pages with word of praises and appreciation towards Yusufali, Aliakbarbhai,
Asgharbhai and their team’s hard work and dedication. It is so easy to donate
money or build an orphanage, school, clinic, etc. But it is a different ball
game to manage it on a day-to-day basis. The whole team is truly devoted for
this good cause and together they are paving the future for these kids… May
Allah bestow the best of his blessings upon them. Ameen.

Watch a few photos here.

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