EDISON, NEW JERSEY – Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, founder and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, launched the 40-year-old Project ‘Life’ NGO, also known as Life Global, in the US, on Wednesday, June 27, at Royal Albert’s Palace, in Fords, New Jersey, with Meetal Koticha Shah and Rushikesh Pandya, Project ‘Life’ representatives who came from India.
Dignitaries who were present at the launch included the Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty, former New Jersey Assemblyman, who is now Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Upendra Chivukula, Senator Freddie Thompson (D-NJ), peace activist Acharya Lokesh Muni; Chairman of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA NY-NJ-CT) Ramesh Patel and President of FIA NY-NJ-CT Srujal Parikh along with 200 other guests.
Project ‘Life’ was started on December 6, 1981 by brothers Shashikant Koticha and Chandrakant Koticha, as a blood-bank in Rajkot, Gujarat, India with the vision to support, sustain and enrich the lives of the poor and underprivileged in India through environmental protection, thalassemia prevention, education, health initiatives and women’s empowerment projects, as a way of giving back to the society.
“One way to nurture our love for India among the next generation is to do some kind of philanthropic work. This commitment to philanthropy to help the underprivileged in India is not only deeply satisfying on a personal level but more importantly it is the uniqueness of India that makes it even more satisfying,” said Dr. Parikh as he encouraged everyone to pitch in.
Dr. Parikh and his wife Dr. Sudha Parikh have been involved with Project ‘Life’ for many years now and it is because of their help that the organization has reached such a stupendous level.
“I would like to thank Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Dr. Sudha Parikh for organizing this event, keeping us together on this platform and it is because of them, we have come together today as they have spent some quality time at Project ‘Life,’” said Shah, the daughter of founder, Chandrakant Koticha.
“As I look back in time, the fact that a mission that was just a dream, has come to such a global level, is really hard to believe. Project ‘Life,’ a temple of humanitarian services, was born in the Saurashtra and Katyavad region of Gujarat and is now spreading its wings globally. We have been influenced by St. Mother Theresa and short but heart-touching phrase ‘live simply so others can simply live.’ She was the first distinguished guest to visit our blood-bank on Feb. 25, 1982, just 81 days after its inception,” Shah continued.
Other distinguished guests who have visited the NGO over the years, include: Mother Teresa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Asha Parekh and TV actor Ronit Roy, cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev, and spiritual leader Pramukhswami Maharaj.
“The journey of Project ‘Life’ is full of miracles, unbelievable miracles and the association of exceptional people like you. My grandmother became a widow at the age of 23 and though she was married at the age of 14, she understood the value of education and it is because of her vision and rigorous hard work, I am standing here in front of you. My uncle and my dad lead a strong foundation of Project ‘Life’ in 1978 with an aspiration to support, sustain and enrich the lives of the underprivileged,” Shah added.
Shah also mentioned that the blood-bank is the mother of all interventions and as of today they have issued 592,567 units of blood components, saving more than 300,000 lives.
From a state-of-the- NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers) & AABB (American Association of Blood Banks, USA) blood bank, the Koticha brothers expanded Project ‘Life’ beyond blood donation.
In 1990, Project ‘Life’ introduced their second intervention, the Life Greenfield Centre, which has distributed and re-planted more than 257,813 plants out of which 63 are indigenous, 23,000 have grown to be six to 15 feet and 17,000 plants are being nurtured for a three to four year period.
Three years later, the organization started a Life Thalassaemia Prevention Centre where they screened 656,518 people for Thalassemia, which is a blood disorder that involves less than normal amounts of an oxygen-carrying protein and can be life-threatening.
Today, they have screened over 1,442,152 people, preventing 117 births with Thalassaemia.
After the prevention of Thalassaemia, Project ‘Life’ decided to take up the initiative of education and though it was started in the year 2000, the Life Education Centre did not make an impact until the year after when Gujarat was struck with a 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which destroyed many buildings, including schools.
Today, Project ‘Life’ has constructed 78 Primary Schools in the rural areas of the state of Gujarat and it benefits 24,000 students each year as it has awarded 12,644 scholarships while 11,539 girls have received grants.
In 2003, Project ‘Life’ established a Life Health & Wellness Centre from which more than 579,403 people have benefited through Yoga ‘Shibirs’ and the Universal Healing Program, including 6,585 prisoners from 23 jails throughout Gujarat who benefited from Preksha Dhyan Shibir, a meditation camp.
Five years later, the Life Women Empowerment Centre was established, to empower more than 7,158 widows as well as women living below the poverty line, by training them in sewing, embroidery, beauty, catering and computers, so they can support themselves along with their children and families.
After establishing all these centres, it was time for Project ‘Life’ to reach out to the Non Resident Gujaratis (NRG) and the Non Resident Indians (NRI) for their help in this mission.
So in 2011, the organization established the Non Resident Gujarati (NRG) Centre in Rajkot, Gujarat India to connect NRGs and NRIs to Project ‘Life.’
Consul General Chakravorty asked Project ‘Life’ to branch out to other needy areas in India so that other Indians will be willing to help out to donate to the cause.
In efforts to reach out to other Indian communities in the world, Project ‘Life’ will be launching other chapters in Canada, Australia, the UK, the UAE, Thailand and Singapore, soon.
Project ‘Life’ hopes to eventually help out 1,000,000 underprivileged people in India.
SOCIAL GATHERING IN LOS ANGELES
Life Global, USA, also organized a social gathering in Los Angeles, on June 16 at the initiative of Dr. Bhanji Kundaria, a leading oncologist of California. B U Patel, founder of Tarsadia Hotel; Ukabhai Solanki, founder of Big Saver Food and Manharbhai Shah, president of MSI were chief guests at the gathering organized at Sanatan Dharma Temple, Norwalk, California.
Govind Lalani, a leading businessman and philanthropist, Dinesh Kantaria, president of Kadva Patel Samaj of North America, Chimanbhai Adial, former president of Indo-American Senior Heritage, California, leading businessman and philanthropist Ganpat Patel and Rushikesh Pandya, chief project development officer of Project ‘Life,’ India, were guests of honor.
Dr Jasvant Mody, President, JAINA center was the supporter of the activities of Life and the support will continue, her said.
Pandya’s committed and tireless effort has seen ‘Life’ India being awarded the best NGO in the State of Gujarat for alternative services in the field of Women Empowerment in year 2010-11. His active involvement has led to the association of 550 NGOs collaborating for a noble cause across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka and Rajasthan states of India.