My story began on March 23, 1978 when my family and I arrived in the United States, trading in the sun burnt heartlands of India for the deep, freezing winters of Chicago. For the next 10 years I created my new life thousands of miles away from my home. I went to college in Milwaukee, WI, met my husband and eventually finished medical school in 1987.
That same year, I said goodbye to my father after he suffered a fatal heart attack. Over the years, he dreamed and hoped to eventually give back to his ancestral village in India. Providence had it that I was surrounded by opportunities and people who helped me achieve this goal. By 2000, my husband and I bought a property in our ancestral village in southern India with the idea of creating a clinic that could serve those who did not have access to health care. By Sept 2001, Hope Charities was born. Over the next ten years, the project expanded with respect to the needs of the community. We soon added a Women’s Vocational Center and a Children’s Tutoring Center. Slowly, Hope Charities was becoming an indelible part of this small community.
In 2008, Hope Charities faced a monumental threat. Attempts were being made to turn the adjacent property into a quarry, a decision that would pose an ecological disaster to the pristine environment and destabilize the property on which Hope Charities stood. The local population fought this threat for over two years, in fear that I might shut down the clinic. Finally, in 2010, my husband and I decided to purchase the 2.5 acres of land that was in dispute.
Due to my deep interest in medicinal plants, and my passion to preserve them from the deadly effects of global warming, I was inspired to start a sustainability project to provide a sanctuary for endangered medicinal plants. Ahimsa Gardens were planted in 2012 with the help of Dr. Sashidharan from the Kerala Forestry Service. Ahimsa holds over 400 species of medicinal plants including sixty rare and endangered trees.
In the meantime, in 2008 I sought out Ayurveda for the first time for an immediate family member after he had received Chemotherapy for a serious illness. This is when I started delving into the benefits and the limitations of Western Scientific Medicine. The chemotherapy, even though it had saved an immediate family member’s life, had also left behind life threatening poisons within him. The effects were making him sick in many ways and left a threat of increased probability of a malignancy in the future.
We had treated the symptom and left out any inquiry or treatment of the cause.