By : Vish Viswanathan &Sujaya Shetty Tripathy
“These are accounts of remarkably giving people, who were not rich or successful, nor were they celebrities. They went beyond the definition of charity, giving generously, selflessly, and without expectation of return. They reached out beyond their shores. Their happiness came from the happiness of others.”
The amazing story of an Australian, who went beyond the definition of philanthropy and involved himself in the lives of the children he supported, giving them better lives in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh
Aldo Capaldi’s story emerged at a chance meeting with him at the Virgin Airlines counter in Sydney. He has worked for two decades in the airline industry. He has done extensive charity work and sponsored kids in India. Aldo’s effort is not only sending money from Australia to India and Bangladesh, but he also flies every year to his sponsored kids to celebrate their birthdays and spends time with them.
Here’s his extraordinary story of love and kindness in his own words.
“My interest began about 5 years ago after failed attempts of trying to adopt children of my own. I am a single male, which is not looked upon favorably in Australia. So government regulations and my busy working lifestyle made it too difficult to think of adoption. The easiest way to bring some children into my life was to sponsor a child instead. This began through the World Vision website which seemed a cheap and easy way to do.
“The first question the priest and Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
I decided to sponsor children, not just a child. My first sponsor child was randomly selected in India. My second and third were chosen by me in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I did that so geographically they could be near each other if I ever visited. Having been in the airline industry for 20 years, I had travel benefits that allowed me to travel to many countries. So it was a breeze when World Vision asked if I wanted to visit one of their development projects. I made a quick decision and resolved to meet all three kids at the same time. In India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka!
The experience in these countries was an eye-opener and was enlightening. I met with the local World Vision workers and the children I was sponsoring. I built a rapport with the families of the children. I got an insight into their lives, the poverty they faced and the problems they encountered. I was moved and shocked by their living conditions. I felt I had to do something more. In Bangladesh, I was taken to a few orphanages to understand where the big problems were and what help was needed.
I returned home and started researching about orphans in other countries and countries affected the most. India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka were among the top of the list. I decided to sponsor a few more orphans. Once again I chose one from each country where I already had my three of my sponsor children through World Vision. Making it six children now.
As the years passed, I made regular visits to see my sponsor children, which I managed easily through my airline benefits. On these trips, I gathered whatever I could, to donate and contribute. Especially a lot of discarded stuff – unwanted items from the aircraft such as amenity kits, blankets, etc.
The work I do with Mother Teresa is very simple. It’s devoting time with the children in the orphanages. As they are abandoned, they are left without any adult figures in their lives. They need love and parenting more than anything, so spending quality time is more than anyone can do. These people are born into poverty and are completely helpless especially the children who are abandoned. They really need a helping hand of a parent.
I spread the word through my friends, family, and colleagues. Over the years, I had learned about several other foundations and charities doing amazing work with children in these countries. I decided to visit all of them, make regular contributions and get to know the staff and workers, working behind the scenes.
I now have a new family of children that call me ‘Papa’ and are close friends in my life,
Five years since, I have helped out with many impromptu requests, including schools and university fees, paying rents and bills for those in need and when required. I love to help wherever I can. I¹m free to help as much or as little as I can, but it has become somewhat of passion and an addiction to help the needy
I¹m now at the point now where almost my entire income is being spent on helping the needy in both India and Bangladesh through sponsorship programs. This has completely taken over my life.
Having researched many charities and foundations, and seeing where there can be room for improvement, I have decided to start my own foundation to help the homeless street children in Dhaka, which is a growing problem and needs the most attention. It is currently in the process of registration and should be up and running by the end of the year. Once my foundation is operational, and platform for fundraising is set, I will aim to make this my full-time job. To help the homeless orphans of India and Bangladesh.
It gives me joy to take care of the neglected and unwanted children. And help rebuild their lives. I drill into them the importance of speaking English and getting a quality education. This will build a foundation for their future to improve their job prospects and opportunities to migrate to other countries like Australia especially when they are older. They have as much potential as anyone else and ought to be given that chance. It is my passion and my life’s mission to become a philanthropist.”
Projects supported by Aldo Capaldi in India and Bangladesh
- World Vision – (www. worldvision.com.au)
- Bangla Hope – (www.banglahope.org) – American owned and run children orphanage
- MTF(www.motherteresafoundation.org.in) privately run boys’ orphanage by local pastor
- Anbu Illam Orphanage in Thanjavur Tamil Nadu
- MCF (www.mariacristinafoundation.org) – founded by Emirates crew for educating slum children in Dhaka
- C2C (www.thechoicetochange.org) – Etihad crew founded slum school in Dhaka
The INDIAN TELEGRAPH congratulates the selfless humanitarian support rendered by Aldo Capaldi, the Australian with a vision to support children beyond borders.
Australians who made a difference in India
Australian Joss Brooks has lived in India for four decades. Joss grew up in Tasmania known for its wild natural beauty and the first environmental party in the world, the Green Party.
In 1970, Joss joined the early pioneering efforts in land restoration in Auroville after living in Europe and Africa. About five years ago, he transformed a huge city dump in Chennai into an eco-park, Adyar Poonga. A project that no one wanted to touch. It is a story of restoration ecology that hasn’t been matched anywhere else in India. Today, the eco-park has an Environmental Education Centre, a children’s interactive area, and a nursery with specimens of medicinal plants.
Joss Brooks has lived on the banks of the Ganges and in a Kumaoni village before setting up Pitchandikulam Forest in 1973 in Auroville – a vibrant 60-acre forest with 800 species of plants in the grasslands, a nursery, and an ethnomedicinal forest. The Nadukuppam school, his team adopted has an environment centre, water supply, toilets and solar-powered water treatment systems. The kids have planted a vegetable garden, women grow spirulina and prepare herbal medicines for cattle camps, and men do organic farming. In 2002, he imparted environmental education to the villages with Nadukuppam Environment Education Center in a village near Auroville.
Spiritual Annihilator of Rabies
Dr. Catherine Schuetze is an Australian veterinarian, living in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, India. A follower of Tibetan Buddhism, her life today is very different from her childhood in North Queensland and later on the Sunshine Coast, where she grew up with a menagerie of rabbits, guinea pigs, horses, cats, dogs, goldfish, and birds at home.
30,000 to 40,000 people die of rabies every year in India. Deaths by rabies are 100% preventable through vaccination and street dog sterilisation programs. Catherine believes that it is possible to eradicate rabies from India in 10-15 years.
Catherine specialises in holistic medicine and veterinary acupuncture. She has been working for animal welfare in developing communities through her organisation “Vets Beyond Borders” (VBB), which she founded with other vet volunteers in 2003. Catherine was in the country as part of a small project on animal welfare in Bodh Gaya in 2002, when India’s efforts to control the canine population were ineffective.
VBB has played a pivotal role in successfully controlling rabies in Sikkim and provides post-graduate training to 25 Indian animal welfare personnel every month through the Vet Train Project. In Sikkim, VBB sterilised nearly 11,000 dogs in two years, and rabies vaccinated nearly 20,000.
Nirmal Hriday – Home of the Pure Heart
Mother Teresa, who made India her home
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus,” – Mother Teresa
On September 4, 2016, Pope Francis will lead an open-air Mass in Vatican where Mother Teresa will be canonised and declared a saint. Many in India think of Mother Teresa as an Indian. Her Nobel Prize and canonization are celebrated as our own.
The tiny, indomitable lady with a lined, kindly face, who has taken care of the poorest and the shunned from the streets of Kolkata, was born an Albanian. She came to India as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu from Skopje, Macedonia and stayed the rest of her 87-year-long life mostly in Kolkata where she founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1948.
The prevailing poverty in Calcutta had a profound impact on Mother Teresa’s mind. Once Mother came across a dying, destitute woman by the roadside in heavy rain. Mother took her to a house and placed her head on her lap. The woman died shortly after, but before that she stared at Mother and gave a smile. Mother Teresa resolved that very day that the dying, destitute, unclaimed and uncared for, must be taken care of, with love and be given a dignified death. Starting from an abandoned Kali temple, through her own order, “Missionaries of Charity” Mother Teresa started a destitute home ‘Nirmal Hriday’ that took care of people who nobody was prepared to look after.
A little known fact about Mother Teresa
“Mother Teresa had a great sense of humour. She would always be joking, and when she found something funny, she would place both hands on her hips and bend double with laughter,” remembers Mother Teresa’s biographer Navin B Chawla. She used to joke ‘The other day, I dreamed I was at the gates of heaven. And St. Peter said, ‘Go back to Earth. There are no slums up here’”.
Presently, the “Missionaries of Charity” has a presence in more than 100 countries. In 1997, the year that Mother Teresa died, the process of beatification began. She was beatified in 2003. Her canonization will be one of the fastest in modern times.
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The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia