Around the world in 54 weeks
Destination 22: Netherlands
The greatest lesson I've learnt on this journey is to never again doubt the ability of a single inspired person to change the world. Meeting Jos Ruijs reinforced my faith further.
Jos is a dreamer and a doer and runs an organisation called Colour4kids. They work on projects all over the world, simply adding a little colour to the lives of underprivileged children.
"We're a very small-scale organisation, most of the people working on the projects are volunteers, we get some small grants from corporate supporters, but mostly we sustain on donations by individuals and the contributed skills of our volunteer staff," he shares.
I have also learnt, that it's not important how grand the scale of the project is, it's simply about swift and effective action, where and when it's most needed. This seems to be the mantra for Colour4kids.
In the past year, with the help of one of their corporate supporters, the Van Bekkum Group, they sent a small task force of volunteers to renovate and extend orphanages and hospitals in Lithuania and Romania. They organised visits from volunteer doctors from Vietnam and Canada to perform complete health checks for all the resident children in another orphanage in Vietnam - a first for most of the residents there.
Jos' modesty about the difference the organisation is making does nothing to dull my admiration. Earlier this year they built six new toilets in a school in Vietnam, where up till then there had been one primitive facility for all the staff and students. They delivered a blackboard, school supplies and a Mac computer - donated by a Dutch patron of the organisation, to a school in Lithuania.
Also in Lithuania, Colour4kids volunteers took dozens of disadvantaged children for a weeklong camping trip. It was the first time most of them had ever left the town they were born in. In Romania, construction workers - masons and plumbers - who volunteer for Colour4kids built an extension to a hospital to establish a day care center for toddlers with disabilities.
While another set of volunteers took children from another orphanage for a barbeque and at the end of the evening each child was handed a backpack stuffed with supplies like shampoo, a towel and other sanitary products and a toy thrown in for good measure. For children with virtually no possessions or means to acquire them, the gifts were truly treasured.
Jos enables all this goodness while keeping a full-time day job. He works in the hospitality industry and even there he continues to inspire people to do good. One of his suppliers has shipped bed linen to a several orphanages and children's hospitals in east Europe.
A time to celebrate
Sometimes, all people need is the opportunity to give back or lend a helping hand. Colour4kids creates these opportunities by linking willing contributors to those who need their help the most. People, who can't donate money, donate their skills, their time and their love. And more often than not- that's enough.
As the Christmas season rolls in, Colour4kids sends out a reminder on behalf of all the children who won't be indulged in good food and gifts by a caring family. They put together a simple way for the forgotten children to feel some Christmas cheer.
Those interested can write to Colour4kids, who will respond by sharing the name, age and gender of one child who they can send a gift to. The dire situation of the children is apparent by the recommendation from Colour4kids that the gift also include food.
A small timely gesture that's changing the world one happy child at a time. Meeting people like Jos has made it impossible to ever be a fence sitter.
To follow Tithiya's journey, log on to www.hindustantimes.com/100heroesproject