Posts Tagged ‘community service’

You Can Never Outgrow Your Need For Purpose

August 13th, 2010
posted by at 4:47 pm

As you get older, it sometimes seems that there are fewer things to learn. No more school. You know your job like the back of your hand. You play the same games on the computer.

Well, I recently had an opportunity that taught me much about life outside the United States. And it opened my eyes to the reality that there is SO much I still don’t know.

Murali and I recently returned from a trip to Kenya. Besides the safari – which was absolutely fantastic – we spent some time visiting with people involved in projects we’ve partnered with as part of the non-profit that we built, Friends Unite.

We went to Kibera, outside Nairobi, which is one of the largest slums in the world. There we met with officials from Carolina for Kibera. This UNC Global initiative, is a non-profit organization that has set an exemplary model for how just a few people can create astounding change for those in need.

They showed us some of their youth programs, and then took us to the medical center they started. It has since been taken over somewhat by a larger non-profit, but that is exactly what we’d like to do – start programs that are so successful they become self-sustaining. The building itself is a clean, sturdy, shining beacon in the midst of overwhelming poverty. The people, dedicated professionals with optimism beyond compare.

We also drove out to Kilisa, a small village a few hours east of Nairobi (in the US, it wouldn’t have taken a few hours, but we’ll talk about Kenyan highways some other time!) to meet with the Kilisa Village Development Community (“KVDC”). What they’ve accomplished already, and what they’ve planned for the future, is remarkable. With so few resources, they’ve managed to redirect their path from one of stagnant poverty which would be expected in an area like this. Instead, they are now on one with the potential for education, enterprise, and sustainable growth.

So what did I learn? Sometimes community-based change does not have to take a government, or years of political negotiating. Water can be found and harnessed from underneath a dry riverbed. A school full of children with a desire to learn does not need a playground, projectors, or even many books. And…. we are very lucky to live in a country with natural resources that allow us to concentrate on more than just survival.

Check out the video of our trip to a school in Kilisa, that our colleague Jessica Coscia produced.

Asante sana!

We Are The World

March 11th, 2010
posted by at 7:33 pm

In a day and age where selfless philanthropy is rare, I am moved by my employer, Bashyam Shah LLP – Immigration Law Group, for moving so quickly to support the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Soon after the disaster in Haiti, we hit the ground running to respond to this humanitarian crisis by providing important guidance on obtaining Temporary Protected Status for Haitians through our Immigration Minute web video segment, we also shared this information via our e-newsletter and our colleague, Pam Prather, led the charge in making hygiene kits for the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR).

Today’s technology has greatly changed the way people give in a crisis. Through mediums like television, mobile phones and the Internet millions have been raised for Haiti, in only a matter of seconds, by texting and tweeting, on social networking sites and by way of personal Web pages.

I know of a number of other law firms and businesses who have also pledged their support to this worthy cause and I salute them. When faced with a disaster of this magnitude, every little bit-large or small-counts.

I sell this type of social action year-round by explaining what volunteering can do for the soul beyond what it can do for society. In a world that can sometimes seem so shallow this kind of showing of philanthropy puts everything into perspective.

As a long time community volunteer and advocate, I am proud to be a part of a group of colleagues who share my passion for helping others.

Our involvement doesn’t stop in Haiti,  several years ago the firm began to help with the significant influx of Montagnards from Vietnam, by working with The Montagnard Human Rights Organization, a non-profit that provides immigration services to refugees in North Carolina. They have since expanded to serving refugees from many different nations.  We’ve had a close and mutually beneficial relationship for several years now, with our attorneys and paralegals logging many pro bono hours on their behalf, as well as on behalf of many of their individual clients.

Members of the law firm have also formed a charity to help people in need around the world.  Called Friends Unite, the organization’s 501(c)(3) charitable mission is to provide funding and support for the advancement of education, health services and other basic necessities, such as food, water and shelter, which are often compromised by poverty.

Our Managing Partner, Murali Bashyam serves on the Board of Directors of the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities.  The Foundation operates the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities, which offers educational, residential and family support services to nearly 400 children and adults with special needs

 We have created this Philanthropy link on our web site to keep you informed on what charities we are currently working with and support.  If you wish to get involved with us in any of these charitable organizations, please let us know.  We would love to have your help and support.

Written by: Jessica Coscia