🌶 Are you going to make a difference? - Paul Kronenberg
Dernière mise à jour : 4 sept.
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Welcome to this Move & Meet Podcast episode, where we explore the inspiring world of impact leadership. In the words of Paul Kronenberg, a leader is someone who uses their talents to lead the way in creating a better and more ethical tomorrow, EVERY DAY!
In this episode, I have the pleasure of interviewing Paul Kronenberg, the co-founder of kanthari, THE place for impact leadership. I met with Paul in Kerala, where he shared his life journey and many small anecdotes with us.
We delve into kanthari, a unique institute that offers a “Journey in five acts” to equip social change makers with all the necessary tools to start, run, and sustain their own NGO's.
The institute has positively impacted the lives of over 200.000 people in 53 countries who are situated on the margins of society.
During our conversation, we will explore the limits of the global education system and discover some possible solutions.
Whether you are a seasoned leader or just starting your journey, this episode is for you!
If you're interested in learning more about kanthari, please check out their website link in the following description, along with a link to a documentary and Paul's TED Talk. We hope you will enjoy this episode, and we wish you a great listening experience.
👉 Find here the linkedin post related to the episode to share your thoughts and inspiration after listening, interact with us and each other.
Paul's LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-kronenberg
Kantari website: www.kanthari.org
The documentary “KANTHARI – Change from Within”: https://www.kanthari.org/documentary
Social engineering to build a better tomorrow | Paul Kronenberg | TEDxYouth@Maastricht: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ck6jX7LQcg
kanthari's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kantharis
(This transcription episode is a collaborative creation with a beta AI. It is therefore still perfectible.)
Thank you Paul to accept this invitation to talk in this podcast move and Meet. I will a lot about your school, about what you did about your life, but I would like you to maybe introduce yourself about your life. And I also want to talk with you about the education system. What is your point of view about that? We will talk about that. This meeting is through the Jagriti Yatra, you went in this train too, but we didn't meet each other. We didn't have the opportunity, but we take it today, so it's good. I'm also curious to know your link with Ragritia. I don't know it at all. So yeah, maybe to introduce yourself. What do you want? The people know about you.
Okay, so my name is Paul Kronenberg. I'm originally from the Netherlands. And sometimes in life you are lucky because you're at the right place at the right time. And for me, that luck came in 1997. I traveled all the way to Tibet, and this is where I met a young lady. Her name is Sabria, and I asked her if she's there for sightseeing. And she said no. And, well, Sabri is blind, so there's not much sightseeing going on. So Sabria told me her life story at that time, and she was born with RP. Retina is pigmentosa. That means that the retina in the back of the eye doesn't see properly or it doesn't work properly, and over time, she's going to go blind. So basically, the light that's coming into the eye is not being translated properly into the brain. So her parents knew this but didn't tell her. And that was wonderful because there was a big misconception about blindness. A lot of people, if we ask, what does a blind person see? Their answer would be darkness.
And it's not a blind person sees as much as your toe in your shoe must be very dark in that shoe. But if you take off the shoe and you take off your socks, it's not light or dark because your toe doesn't see anything. So a blind person sees what they imagine. It's like if you're dreaming. And of course, there's a difference between a person that's been born blind because nobody knows really what they see, because there's no referral points. Then for people that have seen, they can still describe something in colors because they know the concept of colors, they know the concept of shapes and forms. So that's a different story. But they in general, they don't live in a dark. But Sabrina, of course, initially thought once she understood that she's going to go blind. And she understood this in a very different way because she went to regular school with sighted kids. And of course, she was bullied because the other kids didn't know what to do with this different child, but she didn't know she was different. So at some point, she dropped out of school. She stayed at home when her father. Luckily, he's a philosophy teacher, and he started reading books to Sabrina, and the titles were not of a choice of a nine year old, but his choice. And but luckily, one day, he took a book of Angela Davis. Angela Davis is one of the women that started the Black Power Movement in the US. And Angela Davis had three words in her book that changed the lives of millions of black people black is beautiful. So when Sabria heard that, she said, wow, this is amazing, because she can transform something that's seen as negative or inferior to something positive. And at that time, Sabria thought, Wait, black is blind. Blind is black. She also had that understanding, and she said, you know what? I have to find the beauty of blindness. And she did. She went on, and she asked us her a critical question and an amazing question. She said, what can I do better? What is my advantage of being blindfold to somebody who sees?
Now, that's a big question to ask for a nine or ten year old. Now, she was thinking about this, and then she found out a few points, and she's absolutely right. One focus. A blind person is not distracted by Hollywood, Bollywood, and advertisement. We have these built in HD, you know, wide angle, you know, cameras. And when we open our our eyes in the morning, they start recording the entire day. There's so much input that comes into the eyes. It's 80% of our perception. And our poor brains have to store all that information in our limited capacity of our brain, which is still incredible, incredible hard drive. Right now, a blind person is not distracted, and they can really focus. What really matters see, you came this morning, you traveled here, and you didn't see, but your brain recorded, or your eyes recorded at least 50 to 100,000 pieces of advertisement. And all of them have no value, because what does a piece of advertisement do? The first thing of a piece of advertisement is to attract that you watch. But the second thing is to make you feel bad because you don't have that product. So they create a desire of this product that's being pictured on that billboard. But what does that do with you? Some people that are satisfied with their life, who have enough self confidence, they just walk by, and it doesn't matter. But a lot of people, and I would say most people are sensitive for that because they never really made it to a point in life where they have enough dignity. Now come back to that. And because of that, they feel inferior. And to buy some self confidence or to look self confident, they buy whatever is being thrown at them. And that's why there's so many products that absolutely make no sense of buying, that are being bought anyway. So Sabri is not distracted by that. Wonderful. Second one is blind people have to become very good and precise, communicators. They can't just use body language or point their finger. They have to say, 2 meters in front of you, the second shaft, that's where the cookie jar is. Third one is problem solving. If I blindfolded you right now and I will leave. And I said, nobody can help you. You got a problem. And that problem will be there for as long as you're blindfolded. Well, for a blind person, that means for life, right? So they better find solutions to cope in life, to be part of real life. So I could come back in the evening. There's two options. Either you gave up, you sit there and cry or no. Or I find you somewhere on the path through the lake or in the tree or wherever. But you have to find solutions. So blind people in general are forced to become problem solvers. And the last one is vision. See, vision is nothing more than to see something that doesn't exist yet, right? So I'm a little annoyed by the amount of bragging of people that say, like, we have innovation, and innovation is, like, the key word right now, and it's the solution for everything. Innovation, inventions. People very quickly talk about inventions when it's just an add on. We have a cup, a cup slides through our hand, and then somebody saw a door handle put it on the cup mug. Innovation new invention. That's not a new invention, that's an add on. And we sighted people are good at that because we can see something and we just put one and one together. Now, a blind person, because they can't see, if they have to imagine something that's not there yet, that's basically what a vision is. Their capability of doing that, if given a chance, is, in my opinion, bigger than for our sighted people. Now, when Sabria drew that conclusion, she said, now, I want to take that's the next step. That's extremely important. I want to take my life into my own hands. That's probably the major step for most people in the world that are not really taken serious or done. I see a lot of people, they are not doing what they really wanted to do. They're doing to please their parents, brothers, sisters, society. So Sabria told me the story about how she became blind and then at one point, to take her life into her own hands, she went to a special school for the blind and marble. Now, I was there for six weeks, and I've been walking around with a blindfold for six weeks as well. And it's amazing what is possible, even without sight, and what they focus on was the abilities. So during her time in school, she learned how to horseback. Horseback riding, that's easy, because a horse can see. But she also learned about downhill, downhill skiing. She learned what? White water kayaking, solo. Yeah. So, and and it's all possible. It is all possible is just having to give the trust to someone. And this is what's lacking usually in life, not just with blind people, with a lot of other people giving trust to someone that they are capable of doing something you can't. And if we would only trust other people a little bit more, that would be a huge difference in the world we live in at the moment. For Sabria, at that point, that was a big boost for self confidence. And they went to an exhibition about Tibet, and then she saw herself, whitewater kayaking and Tibet and horseback riding. And she said, Can I study something? This is interesting. They said, yeah, there is Tbatology or Central Asian Science in Bond University. However, you're blind, that's not going to work. And this is what. People immediately. Again, they tell someone because they can't imagine they can do it, and they project it on somebody else. And that's the thing, what we keep doing. And that's why we ruin a lot of, you know, futures for a lot of people. So Sabrina said, I have to go there. So then she went, and she had a problem immediately because there was no way to take notes in braille.
And, well, blind people have good problems over. So within two weeks, Sabria developed validity Tibetan Braille script. She learned how to read and write the Braille language with a little camera that you slide up and down on black print. And on your left index finger, there are small needles in a machine. It's called an opticon that project the shape of the letters underneath the camera into your finger. So it was a very hard and difficult process. But she found out that it's a difficult script because it has a superscript and subscript and a lot of rules and regulations. In itself, it's a very difficult language. It's a bad language, especially the written one. So she understood that to make this happen with the subscription superscript in braille, you can't write above a line or below a line. You have to write in one line. So she came up with a few formulas and tested it, and it worked. And within 14 days, she had a Tibetan brilliant script. This was seen by a Tibetan scholar, and he said, wow, this looks great. Have you shown this to the Tibetans yet? He said, no, just developed it. So he took it. And in Tibet, they were very enthusiastic because there were no schools for the blind. They said, who can come and teach? And he said, oh, I know, Sabri. She will come immediately. Now, that's not going to work. She's blind and a woman. So again, Sabria said, well, I'm going to do this. So she went alone to Tibet, and this is when I met her in 1997. And it's easier to travel to Tibet if you know the language and you're blind than if you're sighted and you don't know the language. I also traveled there, and it was much more difficult for me to get there, but I don't get any applause, right? So when Sabrina was there, she told me this whole story, and she said, I want to see, you know, what I can do here to maybe set up a school for the blind. And I said, you know what? Your story is very interesting. Give me a call when you're ready, and we do this together. So she went her way. She went on horseback through Tibet, found a lot of blankets locked away in dark rooms. They were left there to die, literally. And people didn't know what to do with them. They thought they were possessed by demons.
They thought they had done something really terrible in their previous lives. So they had no clue. Parents wouldn't even touch them. And so Serious was very frustrated because she said, what can I do as a foreigner, coming in here and telling them that their religion is wrong? So luckily, on that trip, she met Tanzan, and Tanzan was smiling, and he said, oh, you're blind. I'm blind too. And so she said, hey, how come this kid has so much confidence? And then she asked him, and she said, what do you do? Said, Well, I'm the yak herder in the village, so and here come five steps that are extremely important for any person on the planet. One, he had a task. If you have a task, we have value. If you have value, you're respected. You're respected, you get dignity, and only if you have dignity. That's where true self confidence comes. Now, a lot of people in the world, I would say the majority, unfortunately, never made it to the point of dignity because they couldn't meet the expectations of other people their brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, society to still show or hide the fact that they might not have that dignity. They reach that self confidence, and those are the victims of advertisement, because they buy those products that they don't need. You need this T shirt. You need this watch. You need this car, right? So they overcompensate something that's missing by expensive stuff, but inside, it's an empty shell, right? So there's no purpose. They get up in the morning. They start working. They work maybe two or three jobs just to pay, so that they can show up for other people the life that they're living. I think that's a very sad situation, but there has been a systemic way of having done that, how that has grown. Now, at that moment, Sabrina knew what needs to be done. She said, we have to start a school or a center where these blind kids can come, they gain skills, and with their real, true self confidence that they get out of this with this newfound dignity and true self confidence, they go back into regular school and integrate themselves. They tell the neighbor, you tell me what's on the blackboard, and I'll help you with your English homework. That was the idea. So when she told me that, I said, you know what? We'll do this together, so give me a call when you're ready. So Sabrina went back to Germany. First, you went to the Chinese government in Tibet. She would just walk into the building. They were fabric acid. And she said, I want to start a school for the blind here. And then they said, who's paying? And then she said, I will, but give me a paper that you want me. So within ten minutes, she got a red stamped document, and that's very hard to get. Probably the fastest bureaucratic action ever in Asia. And she went with this paper. She went to the German government, and they gave money for the start up. Fantastic. So this is about eight and a half months later. I got a call. I was working in the Netherlands, back in Germany. And then Sabrina said, next week I'm leaving. See you. So I didn't say anything. I was thinking, and I thought, this is my chance to get out. And so then she said, well, don't cry or anything. At least you can wish me luck. We don't know each other that well. And I said, you know what? I'll join you. So the next day, I quit my job. Best decision I've ever made. And five days later, we went back to Tibet together. That's where a lot of a lot of issues started and not because of me. So people tried to run off with the money that she got from the German government. We were kicked out of the country a couple of times because the stamp was in the wrong place and was really terrible time. The biggest problem, however we had was how can we give hope to these children? So we had some of these kids that came we started with six some of them, they literally came from a dark room. And they were never even asked the question, how are you? So what could we now do to give them hope for the future? We gave us a long thought, and then we found a solution, and it really worked. And it's still working today with other people as well, luckily. So we said, what's the most important question in life? What do I want? It's that simple. We asked this to a lot of people, and everybody body agrees. Unfortunately, not everybody is acting upon it because they're still doing something they don't really want. They go do jobs and they thank God it's Friday, people. Friday, Saturday, Saturday, and on Monday. Oh, no. And they go into that cycle for 20, 30, 40 years. And before they know it, their life is over. So life is what you have been getting up for. As simple as that. So we started a dream factory. And we asked our students, we said, what is it that you want to do?
If I have to change this to I want to, that's where the magic begins. Period. So we asked our kids to get a couple of weeks time to think about this. And there's no buoy. He smiles. He's eight years old. And he says, I want to become a taxi driver. So he could have said, you stupid little boy, you can't do this. You're blind. But that's what usually happens. And we said, no, we don't have the right. Nobody has the right to to, you know, to destroy anyone's dream. If we only we would believe in everybody's dreams, we would not be in the shit we're in today. So we said, wonderful. And the kid was happy. Yeah, he was smiling, running around. Two years after we had a new group of students coming in, we did a Dream Factory session, and he was there. And we said, hey, what about your dream? And he said, well, now I realize the fact I can't see. Maybe it's not so smart to become a taxi driver, but I can set up a taxi company and run it. Ten years old. He never did that. Two years after that, he became interested in making cheese. So he was the first blind person ever to fly, and he flew all the way to the Netherlands to make cheese, not to France. Sorry. So he flew all the way to Holland make cheese, came back and started our Cheese Factory. This is 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago. And nowadays, he runs a restaurant in America, massage clinic. And he's successful. Why? Because he loves what he does, period. So it's that simple. So we said, okay, we're going to have our own dream factory. What are we going to do? Because we were kicked out of the country again, and we were sitting in Nepal waiting for our visa, and let's make a plan, because we both started this very, very spontaneously. And we said, you know what? We're going start a preparatory school where they learn everything they need so they can integrate themselves into regular schools. The second one is a vocational training farm, because we knew what they wanted. Their dreams were making bread, so our bakery should be there making cheese cheese factory. We had animal husbandry market, gardening, kitchen management, knitting, carpet weaving. We had about twelve professions that were not done with any blind people anywhere on the planet. And we said, okay, we're going to do that. And then we said, we're going to have a brilliant printing press where there's no books in Tibetan, because Sabrina just invented it, a braille script. So Chinese Braille books, english prayer books. We said, okay, we're going to make them Tibetan, Chinese, English, because when they go to regular school, they heat those books. And I'm not a specialist. I'm not a programmer in that sense. So we said, we're figuring out right? And the fourth one was, we're going to have a self integration proactive integration, where datum selves go into regular schools. So we were very proud and happy and had a lot of energy were in our end of then we went to potential donors and we said, here, this is what we're going to do. Four years. They were all laughing and they were like, these young kids, they don't know anything. They were right. We didn't know much about, you know, starting schools for blind kids in Tibet, so but Tibi is blind herself. That's that's a huge pros, you know. So we said, well, we understood we had to break it up in small bits and pieces that were digestible. And so we went to the Dutch embassy for a cheese factory. And they liked that idea, so they sponsored that. We went to the German the German embassy for a bakery building and the Canadian fund, so they also sponsored that idea. So we broke it up in bits and pieces. Didn't take us four, but six years, but everything was there. We had our school, we had our vocational training farm. At 4000 meters altitude, it was 16. Ha farm, beautiful place. We had our integration program. Our kids went to regular schools and after one week, we begged the teacher to take some of our students. We said, if you don't want them anymore, we'll take him back, but at least take them for a week. And then Friday he called up and say, oh God, he's calling. And he said, can you send more? We said what? What? They said what? Can you send more of them? Because hey, your kids are doing very well, and the sighted kids don't want to be beaten by your blind kids. So the level in the class goes up. And that was fantastic. That was really one of the nicest moments that we found out. We were like, wow, this is amazing. We didn't expect that. And so everything went on. And then at that point we knew at some point we're going to be Sabrina and I at least have to leave the country because the government was kind of shutting down the foreign NGOs, but also local NGOs. So we said, okay, we can't stay here the rest of our lives. That was never our goal anyway, right? Because we should empower them so they continue. And then we started looking it's already early 2000s when we knew that this was going to happen at some point. So we said, okay, what's next? We have to find a place where we can train our students so that they can take over our role and manage Braille without Borders. That's the name of the organizations. Without Borders. So we started looking for leadership training institutes that were practical, hands on, where you could learn everything, how to run an organization. And we looked also at say, hey, what are the tools and skills that we could have used when we started? Got it.
And that's the thing where we said, okay, there is nothing like that, because everything that we found was either academic or you need a lot of pre education. Our kids just went to an elementary school, and they were ready. They were ready. We didn't have they didn't even have to go to the middle school, high school. The schooling doesn't say that much. We're going to talk about educational systems. I will definitely say something about it after. So we said, you know what? We're going to start as ourselves. And we made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, and luckily, we were the two of us, so we had literally on one day, I would pack my bags and say, let's go, because why are we doing this? Because there's so many people working against us. If you think you're doing something good, you think that the world will support you. Unfortunately, that's not the case. So in the next day, Sabrina would tell me, come on, you know, like, tomorrow is another day. You know, like, don't give up. And the next day, she would be ready to pack up her bags. We had this a couple of times where it was really like a day apart, but never on the same day. And I think that's been our luck, so that we're still together doing what we do. So we said, okay, we're going to start a new center. And we had to think about location, and then we thought about a central place in the world. Well, right now, you are at the center of the world. And why? Because if you draw a circle around the place where we are here in Trivandrum, and you make that circle large enough, you have Australia, Asia, Europe, and Africa. That's where 6.5 billion people are living. And that's exactly we're in the center of that. So that's an amazing place. And we said, we have to go to a place where it's warmer than in Tibet, where there's a good health care system. Basically, Kerala was the ideal location, so we were lucky that we came here. At one point, there was an article in The New York Times about that. We wanted to start up the center here south of India. And then a guy, Naveen Ramachandra, and he read this article in The New York Times, and he immediately said, oh, you have to come to Kerala. So we met him. We went around. We looked at plots of land. We registered a charitable trust. We did all the paperwork and stuff, and that's how we ended up here.
Camille : It's such a beautiful story, and when I contact you I learned a little bit about contali, but not about blind without border. So I learned about that when I knew that I will meet you. And I was fascinating about that. In my family, people don't have a good view. Even some some of them become blind. So I'm very touched about this subject, even myself. My view is definitely not good. And when I was a child, it was very matter for me, and I'm sensitive to that. And I also realized the power of not to have a good view. And right now, when I have. Challenge in my life. I do it without my glasses.
Paul : Like that. It's 80% comes through. What do you do if you want to if you say, what do you do when somebody says, Listen, can you hear this? The first thing you do, you close your eyes, you aim your ear. So you have to take away your vision from being focusing on other areas. And I think vision is tricky because what we always see is not necessarily what is the truth or what is in front of us. So sometimes it's good to close your eyes or spend time in a place where you can't see. Now, the problem is, if you go into a dark room again, the fear of blindness being dark is there. So what we do, we do it differently. There's a lot of restaurants in the dark, dialogue in the dark, where you can eat in the dark, and then you say, this is what the blind go through. No, it's not, because, yes, you can't see your food, but it's not dark. So what we do, we have goggles swimming goggles and we put a white sticker on it, and if you put them on, it's just white. But it's not dark, and you still can't see. So then the fear is away, but you just limit your eyesight. You just put your eyesight aside. Your thinking power, your focus on other senses becomes it's not becomes better. It's the focus on that sense becomes better. It was in a scientific program in Germany, quarks and Co, it's called. And it was a great, great documentary because they said, okay, do blind people hear better? They don't, but they focus better on hearing. That's a huge difference. And the same thing if we do the same. Like what I've just mentioned is that if you want to listen in the far distance and you want to focus, you close your eyes and you listen. Right. So it's 80% of your perception is kind of clogging the rest of your stuff. So sometimes it's good to lose that sense. Or even at night, right. If you're asleep or if you're in bed and you can't really look around, your thought pattern is different than if you are during the day. You see everything that distracts you. Yeah.
So the focus is different. And this is what I love, podcast. Also. Podcast. Podcast. It's a way, yeah. And you can imagine the world. You are not consuming. You are not just consuming. You are active also. You imagine, you create the world. This is the thing for Sabri as well. Sabrina, when we first met, sabri thought from my voice, they have black hair, and she likes black hair. Okay? So she took pictures, and then she went home. And then people were asking, who's the blonde guy in your pictures? And she said, blond guy. I don't know. He was the front in front of my camera. So then half year later, we met, and then she said, Poor, you were there. Maybe. Everybody keeps asking me, was that blond guy in my pictures? And I said, well, let me see. So I looked and said, that's me. She was very disappointed.
So, see, for Sabria, we were going through Chengdu and we were going in a rickshaw, and it was all traffic. And suddenly it was quiet because we went into one of these small alleys that was in between skyscrapers. That was all gray and concrete and it was fungus was there. But there were a few birds in a cage, and the birds were the beautiful bird sounds there. And suddenly, for Sabria, she pictured that she was in a beautiful park with birds because suddenly it was quiet, just the birds were there. And then I took away her magic because I said, well, actually, this is what it looks like, concrete and fungus. And he said, oh, man, don't do that. So, see, for a person that can't see, they can imagine the world all the time. And right now, we're sitting in a beautiful location, and if we describe it, we're in a bamboo hut. With that truth, we have lots of different fruit trees, guava, mango. We have lot of bougainville. We got lots of other colorful plants around us. Now, I don't give you a picture. You paint that picture, right? By listening to the podcast, you are imagining that. And what you see might be much more beautiful than here or even less or the same, but that doesn't really matter. Different senses take over, and I think that's a powerful tool that we have, right? To imagine something. That's how we can see new things.
The power of the imagination.
Yes. What I learned also when I listen to you, is how to transform something. We can. Be difficult in a strong like something we can make us strong. And it's such a good example you say like about all the power, being blind. Also what is the
advantage? What is the advantage? How to transform that? It can inspire people in a lot of ways. Like we are talking about blindness, but it could be every difficulty in life, I guess. And what about your difficulty, Paul? Can I ask you how do you transform it?
Paul : I think I had in my life, I had a few pinching points. One, when I was eleven, I had red spots on my back. And when my mom I went to the doctor and the doctor said, he asked what is that? And I said, well, who's the doctor here?
You tell me, little smart ass. And then he said I've never seen this but here's some medicine. In a week everything will be gone. And he actually was right. Everything, literally everything was gone. So my skin was gone as well. So you can see there's a lot of scars and so within a week my skin was gone. It was one big wound and it took about six years for that to get back to well, how it is now when it's not normal but it at least has skin. So that was a tough time. And I know she, Sabria was sidelined because she was blind. She was not picked for in sports teams and a lot of things where just automatically swept to the sideline. And I know unfortunately, or fortunately maybe looking back what that means, right? So that people don't take you or respect you as a person but rather judge you from something that's wrong with your skin. So it's the same if you're blind, if you're fat, if you're disabled, whatever it is that people judge that and not the person. So and for me, I think that that raised some kind of level of, of alarm when it comes to injustice, right? When people are really when it is about judging. So then the second thing there was in Africa in 1092 and built a school in Isutu as a volunteer. And we couldn't finish the school because there was not enough water. If we would have mixed it for cement, then the kids would have definitely died. So but then we went to Zimbabwe, it was together with an engineer from, from Ireland. And then we saw a lot of people literally drop down that because of a lack of food and hunger and starvation and that's another pinching point for me. That was where I was like man, something's big time wrong and what's happening because I went home to the Netherlands and I knew that but I can't continue in the future in the Netherlands where we have everything and where most people are just complaining. So that's why I was very lucky when Sabria came and yeah, that I met Sabri and I could have that opportunity. I took that opportunity to join her and to do something that has meaning. Think we're both very much driven by. It's a German word called woot. And but wood is a it's very hard to translate that in English, because if you translate literally is rage. But rage is usually seen as aggressive and destructive. But if you have some wood inside where you feel something is wrong, you have a very strong urge to make it right. And that's what we try to do. And we can't do that in forcing it. But the way what we found is we have to bring people that have been affected or by some have overcome adversity. When we bring those people together and they want to address a certain issue, there is going to be a very strong effect. And it's called change from within. In the history of the world we studied and we looked at colonialism, we looked at lots of different issues that were there in the past. And we've seen that it's never sustainable if it has come from outside.
Change can only be sustainable. Change can only be realized if it's done from within a community. And even better. And that's what we found in the last 15 years as proof if it's done by people that have been affecting themselves. So when they are part of the target group, first thing what we tell to people here in India is that we're not in India to change India, because that's not our role or even we should not even think that we can because I'm an outsider or also to be an outsider. The only reason why we're here is to have this as a central point where we can bring people from around the world. They get all the skills and tools and they go back and make an impact within their communities. Now give you a few examples of the people we work with because they are very special people. It's an impact leadership course that we offer. Everyone learns everything they need to know to start and run organizations. They have to be policies. They have to be a proper registration, proper bank account, accounting system, a website, a good name. They have to have a proper curriculum. Their fundraising skills have to be their reporting skills to be a good logo. There's everything that is needed, all the tools and skills. And we developed many over the years so that when people go back and they learn something by doing so before they go back, they're not beginners anymore. They don't make stupid mistakes which could cause the organization to fail or fall apart. Now, the people we work with are very special. Why? Because some of them, they have seen literally the very dark side of humanity. We work with people with albinism from east Africa for example. And they are being chased, killed and chopped in pieces. And a hand for example, is sold for like $75,000 because witch doctors say it brings luck. When you own a body part or you drink a potion that is made out of a body part of a person with albinism. We just returned from Zimbabwe. And Zimbabwe's believed on southern Africans believe that if you are HIV positive and you sleep with a woman that has albinism, you get cured. So but if they want to sleep with you or not, if you rape them, it also works. So a lot of them are being raped. And we have several people, three. And in Zimbabwe, in Kenya, we are two that are now fighting against these discrimination. And the most powerful thing that's happening is that say, we people with albinism should not be killed. It's not some outsider that says, hey, you should not kill each other. Right? So they're one of the target group and that's very, very powerful. We have Georgia, who is from Orissa here, and Georgiana was being beaten up, gender based violence at home. And after several years she said, this is it. So she left her kids with her sister. She went into the fields, she found a well that was 30 meters deep. She looked around and she jumped.
And she was double lucky because there was enough water to break the fourth, but not enough to drown. And then the double luck came. That Gary Shankar, who later also became a cantare, who was fighting child labor in India, he saw her, he saw this happening from a distance and he went immediately saved their life. So Judnah now has traded more than 4000 women in skills to make a little bit of money so that they become less dependent on their husbands. And that's a wonderful thing, because that's the trap. Where most women worldwide are in is the financial dependency on their husbands. So that's women empowerment. But she can say like, well, I was there where you were, right? So join me, we can do this together. We have Nancy. Just a couple of weeks ago we visited her, she's in Zimbabwe. Nancy has been also beaten up, GBV, she ended up with five kids on the street. And she said, the education is the most important thing, but I have no money to send my kids to school. So she was in a terrible condition. She was, you know, scavenging and just to make ends meet. And then one day, luckily, she got scholarships for her kids, so they went to school. Then she started interviewing women in in a women's department where she first was employed as a cleaving lady. But then they found that she could speak very well. So she did the interviews and she found out there's lots of women, hundreds of women like her in similar conditions, beaten up by the husband's husband's, alcoholics, drug addicts, and had no no future. Most of them became single. Women have kids, they want to send them to school. They couldn't. And she said, you know what, I'll open a school. Not knowing that within a couple of weeks, she had 500 students in that school. Now she has nearly 2000. So she turned an old beer hole into a school. And we were there three weeks ago, and you should see that school. It's incredible. It's incredible. She needs help from other people because half in the open, there's like three classes in one room. Not even a room. It is open on the side so they can hear each other. So that woman needs some support, and she deserves support because she's changing a huge lives. The kids nowadays, one of the biggest problems is that the children are on drugs. You know, it seems a big drug invasion coming in and ten years old, they're on math. And they beat up their own moms because they steal from their own mom of beating them up to get money to buy more drugs. And if you hear those stories, you go like what's wrong with this world? But there's Nancy. And Nancy gives a future for these women. We have people working on environment, we have ex child soldiers, Sierra Leone, who now are training ex child soldiers and skills other than killing people to make a living. So we work with people that have seen the really the dark side of humanity. One of the reasons that we have in the intake process, it has to go through a psychologist because we want people that come here that they have left that trauma behind. If a woman has been raped and she says, I'm going to start an empowerment school, empowerment place for women, she must have overcome her trauma. And that should be a thing of the past. Because every time she brings it up and she starts crying, then it's not going to work. And this is not a place of healing, this is a place of learning. So when they come here, we want them to 100% focus. And if that's not there yet, or if it's not there at all, then they can't come. It is a special place and it's not the amount of people that we train as a measurement of success, it's the amount of people that start and run organizations. That's a big difference.
What I understand is like to make their action from the hurt and not from the fear or something, they should have strength. It has to come from a source of strength and not from a force of where they are still in the trauma. If you're in a trauma, there's still a weakness and a vulnerability. And that vulnerability has to be in the past now. It's pure strength, energy. And we've seen amazing, amazing people here that have so much strength now that they have overcome this particular issue. And they're thriving. They're training thousands of women, they're training thousands of kids. Some do, only a few. But for us, people say like Arbor, last time we had a big discussion with a lady here and she says, well, it's all about scaling up and we have to have more and bigger and stuff. And I said, wait, we talked about a guy that is in Nigeria. He was on the street for twelve years with 21 couldn't even there's a mosquito there.
I think I had it
well done. Okay, I don't want to hit you. And this guy was on the streets for more than twelve years in Lagos. He was one of 24 kids, father had several wives. He had never got attention at home. And then he saw that street children have something to eat, which he didn't have at home. So he said they joined him. First night he was nearly killed. He got a scar from here to here. And they said, all the street kids, they have this hierarchy. They said, we want money. If you want to join us, you have to pay. Then he said, I have three options. I go home. I don't want to do that. I go to another place. But then they probably kill me or I have to get money. And then he found a way to get money from beggars that couldn't walk very well. And they had a good revenue at the end of the day. So he would rob them. And he said, with his new skill, I became the gang leader. And then of course, after a while he found out that was not an ethical thing to do. And somebody picked him up from the street when he was in his twenty s and, and sent him he went all the way. He had some studies. And then he came here and he's now running an organization called Aki. He started with ten kids. So we had this, a friend of ours, and she said, well, but why can't you start with 20 or 100 kids? And I said, Listen, how many children do you have? She says two. I said, okay, so do you want to have eight more today? No. I said, Wait, so why are you complaining about this one guy that has only ten kids if you only have two? Right? Yeah. For us, it's not the amount of people that of lives. They change. Every single one counts. Right. And I think we, we have to, because it's always a numbers game. And I think in the NGO world, which is sad, see, the commercial world is very simple. You have a bottom line and there's a number, and it's positive or negative. And money, it's very easy to measure if you see money as a success. But I don't see money as success at all. For us, the impact is what does it make a difference in the lives, in the daily life of a person?
For us, most important part is that people get dignity, that they are seen as a person. And I'll give you an example. We had Adamutu Anamutu was five years old. His father died. He became a street as a child laborer, terrible youth, really hard work, hardly got any pennies for it. A few rupees. And he had, when he was eleven, and angel picked him up and they trained him in a to become a graphic designer and a photographer. But his heart was lost with the homeless people in Bonnie Cherry. Every time he saw a homeless person, he couldn't he couldn't walk away. He went there, he talked to them, and he found out that lots of them are on the streets dumped by their own kids. Why? Because they have some issue. If they're going to go to the hospital, it would financially ruin the future of the kids. So it would be better to dump them on the streets, which is terrible. He had several of them who died in his arms, and nobody helped him to bury them.
When he came here, he says, I want to start a project for the homeless. And we said, well, your history is amazing. However, you've never been hopeless, so you're not part of them, right? So you can't, you know, you're the outsider that comes in. I'm going to help you because I'm a good Samaritan, but, you know, don't know how these people feel. So he said, you know what, I'm going to try this. And he went to the railway station here in Trumanum for three days during Orchi when there was a big hurricane that came or the cyclone that came across southern India, 2017, right before December. And he came back three days after he was completely broken. He was sitting in the office and he was crying and crying. I said what happened? He says, I've never been so hungry, so thirsty, so cold. He said, but that was not the problem. I became invisible.On average, there are 3000 people running through that railway station day and night, every hour. And nobody saw me. Looking away is a choice. You are responsible for what you choose to do. You're also responsible for what you choose not to do. And that's where the problem lies. It's only one straw. Say, 8 billion people, and we still have the problem. So now what we learned from that is, yeah, we're also looking away. Yeah. And we try our best not to. But since then, big difference. Everyone, every single person on the street, we at least greet them. That's the simplest thing you can do. You don't have to give them any money, but don't treat them like they're not there. Don't take away their dignity, their personality, right? And it's the thing. Looking away is a choice. And I think that we're all looking away again, unfortunately, because a lot of people never it's the same loop, right. Didn't get to dignity. So they have to have that fake confidence. So we're only busy with making sure that my perception,
how am I perceived by the rest of the world? It should look okay, and we don't see that. Basically, if you would care about somebody else and you have nothing, people would recognize you much more as a decent person than that person with a big, expensive watch or the big car. Right. But that's something that people only find out once they go through something more challenging and come to that realization. And that's something that we try to instill. And I think here we come to the educational system, because you said, what about education?
And just before to talk about education, I was curious about the name. The name contary. I think it's from chili pepper or something like that related to your participants. Tell us about that.
All right. So the name of organization is canTerry. And country has a history. We started when we came first, organization was Braille Without Borders. That was a good name because it's not just the physical borders, but the mental borders that we talked about. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it. So then we said, okay, what is the next? So we said, we want to do something for social entrepreneurs. So we said, International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs. I-S-E. That's what we started with when we came to Kerala. And that was terrible. That was a terrible name. We made a big mistake, because at that time, also Is started. So people were like, how is this related? What is ise. So luckily, one day, we're having lunch, and Sabri is suddenly jumping up, and she goes, Gee, what was that? And then our colleagues, they started smiling. They said, Are you just bid on I can't day? So we said, what that day? What's a cantare? And she said, well, it's a small chili, one of the smallest in the world, one of the spices in the world. It makes you awake better than coffee can. It lowers your blood pressure, which people don't expect. It is healthy for you. It purifies your blood. And we immediately, at that moment, we knew we were looking for a new name for the organization, and we said, wow. kanthri is a change maker. So instead of change maker, we want to use kanthari. And so hopefully in the future, we talk about kanthari, Gandhi, kanthari, Mandela, kanthari, whoever, you know, like, that was the idea. So and then we looked it up, but there's five colors of it. And because people say social entrepreneurs, that we still had this international need for social entrepreneurs, but then what is social entrepreneurship? If you ask ten people, what is social entrepreneurship? You get 15 different answers. Because is it an entrepreneur that's like a business person that does something social? Is it a social so does that mean if we have a social entrepreneur that all the other regular entrepreneurs are antisocial? That might be also be the conclusion. So we said, Wait, let's give you some more thought. And then we came up with five colors, five types of kanthari that we work with. Bye. Green. And you've seen our logo. Our logo is the shape of a chili, and it has five colors in it. Five small chilies that form a bigger chili. Green, yellow, orange, red, and purple. We start with the green. The green is kanthari that uses training or any environmental programs, green programs to educate or to empower people so that they can have a skill or gain knowledge or skills to take care of themselves or other people. So it's like basically training programs. We kanthari here is like a green cantare in that sense. And financed well, we are financed by donations, and people say, that's not sustainable. You should make money to do this. And they say, well, but I'm not good at making money. I think we're pretty good at what we do. But there are other people that have money, and they're not as good to do this. So they basically they outsource, you know, their wish to us. And that so far, 25 years we've done this. We've been depending on donations that has worked. And a couple of years back, when the Pandemic started, a lot of businesses went broke. We raised more funds in that year and helped more than 10,000 people getting through very, very difficult times during the Pandemic because we were an NGO in that sense, and we were flexible to immediately adapt to the situation. Businesses can't do that. If you produce a certain good, you can't the next day, you can't just completely do something different. So we we use that part. Second color is yellow. Yellow is about technology. So he has a white cane. The white cane costs $200. That's ridiculous because it's a stick, a foldable stick. That thing costs maybe six, $7 to make, let's say $15. You really have a high quality one, but it's sold for $200. So it's somebody's making money on the back of a person that did not choose to be in that position. Same with wheelchairs, same with software, speaking software for blind people. So in Tibet, we hired this very smart guy, and we asked him to program Ubuntu in Tibetan. So there's an operating system. For the computer. There was no windows for Tibetan language. And then we said, well, also make a speech synthesizer so that at least for blind people and for elderly people, they can also read the text in voice understanding. And he did that. And this is typically what a yellow cantare does. He takes any kind of product that is needed for a marginalized group in society so that they are able to get back into the mainstream, so that they can participate. And that should be a low or no cost. So the canes should be sold well, there can be a regular margin of 20%, 30%, that's maybe even 50%. But then the cane that is $10 will cost $15. That's fine, but not 200. The third one is business. And this is the typical order. If you ask most people, they come social entrepreneurship. It has to do something with business and social. Now, we had a wonderful guy, unfortunately passed away last year. Ojok simon ojak. Is was about to be kidnapped by the rebels in Hulu in Uganda. And he's a big guy and he was nine or ten years old. And then they hid him with the back of a rifle on his head and he became blind or partially sighted, so they couldn't use him. So they already knew he was wounded, so they left him behind, but they damaged him for the rest of his life, luckily, maybe because otherwise he probably would have been killed. As charts. Holder. After that, he couldn't pursue his passion and that stealing honey from the wild bees from from the jungle. At one point, he still had like a honeycomb and he put in a clay pot and put it in the bush. He forgot about a couple of weeks after, he was like, what's that then? Oh, my clay pot. And then he found that more bees were there and more honey was there because they were making, you know, they added some structure. So he and his he became basically a beekeeper without knowing the profession of beekeeping. And when he came to us afterwards, he left. He has trained several hundred blind people to become beekeepers and activists. And of course, they do make some money with the honey. So now, first the blind were useless. They were looked down upon. Now they were the breadwinners in the family. Not only that, they put the beehives in strategic locations between the bush and the fields of the farmers so that the elephants wouldn't come. So suddenly, in the eyes of the farmers, the saviors were the blind. Look what a huge social impact that has that Sunday from being seen useless and disrespected. Suddenly they are being looked up on and they say like, wow, they are helping us, right? And suddenly there is this, again, dignity that comes back, right? And that's that's a wonderful thing if that can be combined with business. Wonderful. Orange cantare. The red cantare is what you know, Sabria, Angela Davis, a lot of people that just make a difference in the world, these are the activists. Activists also, they depend on donations. They are not good at making money. Right. People support a vision. Right? And that's what activists do. So they are red cantare. Very spicy. And then there's the purple cantare. Artists and artists in the make a sense there are artists. It could be rock stars, pop stars, actors, journalists, people that write. It could be poets, it could be song singers. Everyone that uses the art in some way or form to make people aware or to make a difference in society. That's basically the five colors that we have now. Coming back, can I go to the educational system? Yes. And to introduce the education system, I will say that I will look at your logo differently right now. I like the link with the color. It's meaningful. And I read that here. In contrary, you don't have student and teacher, you have participant and catalyst. And I think it's directly linked to your vision of education. So in which way are you contouring yourself in education? I think that there is a frontal learning, I think is a completely outdated way of education. The entire educational system worldwide needs a shift. A big shift right now. I think right now, just the last couple of weeks, because you heard about artificial intelligence coming in and there's going to be a big shift in how literally the world will work. Because artificial intelligence, there are risks to it. Absolutely. We should definitely look into ethical decisions. No, as a self driving car, it needs to be programmed. But if it becomes artificially intelligent and you're driving that car, and the car will detect, it's safer. Usually when a car drives, because they can check like a million times a second, they can check instead of us, maybe, you know, we're not that fast in reaction times. However, now there's an ethical dilemma because there's three kids running on the street, you're driving alone in your car. The only options that the car has and it has to, you know, there has to be programmed somehow, is I go straight, I kill possibly three kids and myself, I go to the left, but as a tree, I got killed, but we saved the three kids.
Now you're the programmer, you decide, right? Do you still want to drive that car?
So, yes, there are issues with this, and this is something I think Elon Musk is why he's warning and he's very concerned because the speed with all this that's going now, there's an incredible speed of the change that we're going through. And usually it's first the technology and then the rules are coming. But with this, because there's so much at stake, there's really lives at stake. There should be some rules beforehand, but now, okay, these are ethical rules. Who's going to make those decisions? Right? So that's I think it's the first thing. Now, talking about ethics, I think that's one of the major thing that's missing in the regular educational systems. I was in the Netherlands last like a couple of months ago, and I spoke to several schools and young students about the early twenty s, and I asked him, I said, where in your curricula? From elementary school to middle school, high school and university, where were ethics made into a theme that you really, really dug into to understand what are ethics? And I was shocked because in most cases I heard, wait, ethics? What? There wasn't anything. And then I said, what about morals? And say, yeah, morals, no morals. The Ten Commandments, you shall not read this. And note I think this is something that we have to look at. And there's a man of a Kant who has the categorical imperative. And I think that's very simply translated as always, act in such way that what you decide doing can be the norm in society. So basically, whatever it is that you do, every decision that you make should be done in such a way that it's good for everyone, for our entire surrounding, for everyone, for literally planet Earth and people and the ecology system, everything included. Now, that's a wonderful guideline to have. And yes, we all break it because we have to go back to a whole different lifestyle, but you can still be considerate. And even if we would go 10% of that, I'm sure that the world will be different already, right? But that's something that's missing in school systems education system. In my open, there's five or six different things missing one. What does it mean to get married?
Till death do is apart. It's a quick thing that you can say, but then there's 40, 50 years ahead of you.
We don't really talk about you don't learn that, right? What does it mean to have children or to to, you know, to to have a child? What does that mean? Right? And what are the consequences of having the responsibility to to to how to say to let them grow up? We don't learn that in school someday. I've I've seen a lot of parents. We we did not or we chose on purpose not to have children. And we also got married. We said we are together as long as we draw and can give energy from and to each other. And if that's over, then we can play to all the theater in the world. But then it's not good for both of us, but not good for the people surrounding us. We've been together 25 years and I hope we're going to be forever together. That doesn't change, right? Because that's a wonderful thing to have. But not just because I said yes to a promise that I made. I never make promises. I always say if nothing comes in between, we'll see each other. Because I never know that something comes in between. Now, the other thing is so once you have children, what is the financial consequences of having a child? A child costs a lot of money. And if you are not in the best position already and you don't have any income and you have one child and then there's a second one coming and a third one coming, what are huge consequences? But we don't learn, really. But you only figure that out once the kid is there, right? Then death we don't talk about death. Death is a taboo theme, right? That is something scary. We don't know how to mourn. We mourn for years in the east. They do it differently and they seem that it's a celebration, but we don't talk about it. Right? It's kind of a taboo theme. We don't talk about food or not in a way that we should, because what do we know about our food? We know how all these fast foods taste, we know how the recipes of spaghetti and all that stuff, but we don't know what are actually food, where it comes from, is it healthy, what is really good for us, how to grow it? If I would be the only one that's left over now on the planet, the first thing that I have to worry about is my food. What do we learn in schools to make, to create, to grow food? Nothing. Right? People would starve to death. And I think it's if you learn these things, you get more respect for the farmers, you get more respect for the environment. There's more little things that are easy to change in educational school systems is just by doing, let's run a farm as a school. Why don't we make it compulsory or make some kind of a rule or a statement or a vision of a school director that says, hey, we're going to provide meals for the students here, but we're going to grow it. We have a big piece of land here. We got a couple of hundred students here. This is what we need every month. Right? Let's make this happen. And maybe there could be some subsidies into that. Right.
And then, of course, the big one is the ethics. I think if you understand why something is right because you understand, instead of being told, that makes a big difference. If I have to changes to I want to, that's where the magic begins. Also applies here. Right. If we only understood why certain things are the right thing to do and why certain things are the wrong thing that we really understand, then act upon that man. The world would be in a different stage that we're in
to encourage people to think by themselves, to think what is wrong for them. Question critical thinking. Yeah. Instead of tell the truth, it's make themselves find their own truth. And that makes me think about an experience that just did. A few days ago, I spent a week in an Ashram with a guru, and it was an exposure to discernment. Like I heard things. Is it true? Is it wrong? I was wondering a lot. And I think education has to, if I dare to say that, to help people to think by themselves, it's just not learn to learn, it's learn to think also.
Maybe I think that would be the first thing that's been done if the first thing of the educational system is to really empower. And this is where earlier you asked a question about catalysts and participants. See, if you look at a traditional way where teachers are there and students are there, first of all, the students are consumers. They say, give me, give me, give me their entitlement. They feel that they are entitled to get all that stuff, but at the same time, they stay away from school because they don't care. And then as this teacher prepared a lesson, now, that's not really fair, right? But at the same time, the teacher, if he sees one student excel
and then suddenly goes, oh, that's a risk, because if he's so well, I'm going to lose my job. So they automatically kind of cap the amount of empowerment to that student. And that should not be there. So we said from the beginning, we don't have teachers, we don't have students. We have participants that are actively proactively participate in the process. And we have catalysts. And a catalyst, a wonderful meaning of a catalyst is that it's a substance that is not being used up in the process. So at the end of a course or the end of a year in the school, the teachers, they say, oh, I need a break. These terrible kids. The catalyst will say like, when is the next group company? Because they get energy from these people. That's how it should be. Now, of course, it's not perfect because we still have some participants that are coming in. They have the student mentality. That's the thing that is hard to get rid of if you grow up in a system where you're being told and treated like a student, right. Because you're just a B. Yeah, that's it. So you have to think for yourself. And I think, if only we could. And that's why we don't talk about education. But learning, learning is the key. Learning is a process that you do together. And we do it at eye height. Right. We do it at the same we look each other. We have kanthari. The name has a small K. Small at a K. Yes. And we did that on purpose. Everybody writes to us and they do a kanthari. No, it's a small letter K. Why? Because we have a very flat hierarchy. That doesn't mean that my responsibility, SABRINA'S responsibility as the directors is the same as everybody else here. That's not it's not about responsibilities, but it's about the respect that we have for each one in the organization and the importance of each one in the organization. Every single person here on campus is equally important. If the gardeners would not grow our food, the cook would not have part of the stuff to cook a meal. If the cooks wouldn't be cooking their meals, the staff and the participants, they would not be very happy because there's no food on the table. If the guard would not be doing his job, maybe people would enter him and get his endangered. So every single responsibility on the campus is equally important. We wash dishes and we serve food once a week. Everyone participants, everybody in the staff. Why? Because nobody's too big to serve food or too wash dishes. And so these are small little things that we try to in getting into the program so that people understand, hey, it's about together, it's about us. I think one of the biggest issues at this point in time is that the eye is standing in front of the we.
And if we can't reverse that, we have put the Wii in front of the eye. I think then, as humanity, we're done. I do have hopes that we can reverse it, but I think it's getting more difficult because of the way the entire society and the media has built up. Because the media focuses usually and all these how do you call them, the algorithms, they are based on such way that it's on sensationalism, that it's on negative, you know, focused on negative stuff and not on the positives anymore. And that's that's the sad part. So I'm I'm very much in favor of that. There are channels, and and one example, very simple example. When I was young, about six, seven years old, they started the Youth Journal in my country. And the Youth Journal was a, you know, was quarter to seven, and it was ten minutes, 15 minutes. And they said, in the in the fourth formula of it, they said, listen, if we want to give a future hope to our kids, we can't show them the regular news, because it's all terrible. The news reader starts with good evening, and ten minutes later, you scratch your head, and you go like, Good evening. So it's terrible what's being shown. So they said, Listen, at least 60% should be positive.
And I never forget now, I was six or seven years old and I watched it was one of the first programs and I watched it, if I could, every night. And one of the first things was in the villager. It's a it's a nature area in the Netherlands. They thought that a dragonfly was extinct, but because they planted some, they did some regreening, and this this dragonfly came back and that's that's 45, 46 years ago, you know, that this happened. And I still remember it because it was something positive. And I was like, wow, that's great. It made me smile that day. Now. And I think if we if we just with the amount of news that is coming in, with the amount of statements that people have to make that didn't get this dignity look at me selfies. It's constant about me. It's the eyes, the center of the world. It's not us anymore. And I think that has to change. If only we understand that together, indeed we are much stronger. Look what we can do. We can do so much better than what we're doing right now. I'm ashamed because every day there's hundreds of thousands of people going into factories to make weapons. Not only that, they are being used to destroy. And not only that, that's as bad as it gets. But and even worse than that is that we send hundreds of thousands of people in factories every day to develop better and more effective weapons. That is awful. That's terrible. We should be ashamed of ourselves, right? So we can do so much better. And it's just a matter of news of people like the Cantare and there's thousands of other people that are doing amazing work around the globe. So I think we can do so much better. And I think the first thing, if only educational systems would be there to explain to young as young as it gets. What ethics are about, that children learn to think, ask critical questions to understand what is right is right. See what is right is right, even if people are not watching. And that's the thing that I think is missing, right? And I do feel that inside of us, I think every person is born with some kind of empathy
and that we internally, we know when we're doing something wrong that doesn't have to be told by anyone. There is that guilt feeling that comes in, right? If you tell a lie, it doesn't feel good. Now, some people, they do it that many times so that they don't care anymore. I think they they rub off this empathy or this guilt feeling or conscience, and at some point, they become so blunt that it's that well, the lies become the truth. And that's something that we should watch and I think we should critically see. Any issue that can be explained can be explained by a child. Ask critical questions. Say, Why is it why you don't like this person? And they might have good reasons, and then the person can change. Or it might be just because that other person maybe has more self confidence, and the person with less self confidence just wants to break that. Instead. Why don't focus on why that person has more self confidence and ask them questions. Why did you get where you get so maybe I can get there too, instead of putting that person down. It's very simple. If only we would ask the neighbor every morning, how are you? If everybody would do that, wow. Would be a different world.
Like it's a chain after all. It's a chain. He has to his number too. It's
not all that difficult. Okay,
and what is your link with Jagrit Yatra, by the way?
All right, so in one of the first Jagriti Yatras, we we met with the founder and with Ashutosh, and they said, can we come and visit Cantare? And this was we in 2009. So when we just started so they knew about the work that we've done in Tibet, and they wanted to come here, and we said, Great, come. So we had 430 people up in that hall.- As one of the first destinations ever because from Mumbai they came straight here. They came out, and that was 2009. And so after that, I joined them for four or five days to Bangalore, and then I flew back. So a couple of years back, in 2019 I think it was, I called them up and they asked and said, are you interested to join? I said, yeah, sure. And from where to where? They said, well, you can join the whole thing. I said okay. Great. So I jumped on in, I think, Madrai, and then I did the whole thing. And then last time so just last December, I thought, Why not joining again? And they said, yeah, I dropped the join up, but I couldn't do the whole thing. So I came to Kanye kanthari and then from there up to Madra. And then it was only two days. That's how we are linked.
Such an experience. To finish this podcast, if you can say something to the ear of the little Paul yeah. What could you tell him?
Okay. I grew up in a family with four kids, and I was a third son. I was supposed to be a girl. So my parents were disappointed when I was born in that sense. Then they had another girl and then things for them was fine. I had a little gap with my two older brothers, and I think because of that and because they had their own friends to play with and I felt basically a little bit in between gaps, I became very selfish. I was a little irritating kid. I think. I was angry a lot. I had anger issues. And it was my fifth grade teacher that confronted me with that. And that was great because I think that is why my first turning point in life started. Because he basically was what I first said earlier said about the we and the US instead of the eye. Back then, I was the eye, and I was only like eight, nine years old at the time. But I did get what he was saying. And I think after that, that has changed. And it's much easier if you're a part of the we instead of just dying to be everything yourself. So for me, that was as a little kid growing up. But of course, as a little kid, usually if nobody confronts you with that, then you might end up in a big bully. Right? And so I thank my teacher, High Felix, I remember his name, I met him last year, still in touch, and I thank him for that because I think that's the role of a teacher, they should confront you with the behavior that you have and if you and ask questions of why you are doing what you're doing. And maybe at that time I didn't even know why I was doing it, but I did understand that it was not a good thing to be that selfish. So very grateful for that that happened. Otherwise I definitely would not be here today.
That's what you said. The poll of today can tell to the little pole.
I think that I can confirm that to the little poll that the teacher was right, that I was just way too selfish at a time. In general, I think every day what we tell participants here as well, there's only two parts in life that are the same for everyone, that are equal for everyone. And that doesn't out if you in Africa and India, whatever. It's death. Nobody has escaped death yet and it's 24 hours a day. So once you're alive, the only two things that are the same is that you get 24 hours a day and death. And I think over the time, over my lifetime, but pretty early in life, I would say when I was in Africa at the time, I understood that every day is literally every day is a wonderful a gift that's given to you and it is up to you how to use that in the best possible way. And I think if you did, the earlier, you find out what it is that you want to do a night, the bigger the blessing. Because then you can focus all your energy and time that you have on that and you're not wasting time. I see a lot of people, they're wasting their time and they think, oh well, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. And at some point they get sick, something happens, they die and they look back. And so when I was a little kid, we had a bakery. And even when I was a bigger kid, we had a bakery. So my dad had a bakery till I was old. So I was delivering bread to older people in a home for old people. And sometimes I was the only person they saw the whole week.
And I felt terribly sorry. And I was early, six, seven, eight years old. And usually they would tell me a lot of stories because they wanted somebody to talk to. And at some point they said, oh, if I could redo my life again. And then that became interesting and what would have most done? They said, Well, I would have used my time better and I would have traveled and I would have been, how to say, getting more information about what that's really going on in the world. That was a common thing. And of course, these people, they went through World War I, some of them World War II, so they never had that chance to do that. And that was one of the reasons for me that when I was 16 I started hitchhiking and that's how I got across the world. And I think that's a good thing for anyone to see something more than what you have at home, it makes you appreciate what is there at home. Always the grass looks greener in other places, in people's gardens, but go there and mow the lawn three times and you find out that they have as many, if not more problems, right? So, yeah, be open to what is out there. Be critical, ask questions, be curious, and try to find out. Yesterday we had a group of social workers here. Usually we get groups of architect students coming here and I always tell them, give yourself the gift the next time you're going to brush your teeth,
look in the mirror and see who is looking back. Not to put your hair and all that. Who is looking at? Who is that person? And if that's not a born architect,
Because I think you're born architects. It's a beautiful profession. But if you're not a born architect, first of all, you're not going to be happy. You're going to be a thank God it's Friday architect. You're going to drop your pencil every day at five. It becomes a routine. You're not going to build anything great or inspirational, and you take the space of maybe a person that is a born architect. So get out and find something that you love doing. And I think the earlier the earlier, and that's why we have to start in kindergartens, to let people let kids dream. And if parents really want to do something really good, good for their children is to listen. To listen and to really sit with them and take them serious when they say, I want to become a pilot and ask questions. And maybe, yes, they are a born pilot, and if not, they will change. Maybe they want to do a different profession. But encourage that. Don't say no immediately, because I learned that if you say no immediately on any idea that's there it's not helping anyone. Why should we judge other people of what they want or can or cannot do? We should encourage them and find ways to make it happen. Wonderful. Full of hope. Do you have the resources that inspire you? Or you want to share, like a book or movie, all podcast or
you told a lot about people and that's so important. And is there any resources that you want to share to all listeners?
People that inspire me in general are people that have understood that, who follow their passion, who find something that they're really passionate about. I love meeting people that are passionate about anything. Anything is if a lawyer is my dentist. Yeah, gasy. Wonderful guy. Because the man is incredibly he works day and night. He's a workaholic, but he loves it, right? That is for me is amazing, the people we work with here. So when we built this campus, I was always into Earth friendly, human friendly architecture. And I found a book about Lori Baker. And Laurie Baker was asked by Gandhi to stay back he was the British to stay back to build buildings, because he was the Brickmaster, they called him. So I read his book and everything was about Lori Baker. Was he dead? So I thought lori Baker dead. So somebody said, no, no, he's still alive. He said, Where is he? He said, well, he lives here in Toronto. I said, really? Let's go see him. And then they said, now he's old, he's in his eighty s. And his wife, Elizabeth, she doesn't let anyone come close. Everybody wants to meet him. I said, we didn't even call that so at that time, I remember we were in the city, we stopped the car. I said, Stop the car, let's find a phone book and let's call him. We stopped at a smaller electricity. They saw lights and stuff, and they had a phone book. They looked him up. Laurie Baker. There he is. Phone number was there. We asked the guy that we didn't have a mobile phone. So we asked the guy, can we make a phone call? He said, yeah, go ahead. So we paid for the phone call. It is about on the phone. So we spoke a couple of minutes and said we want to start up the center here. We want to build this building and can we come and meet Laurie? And she said, when can you come? And we said, now, one half hours later, we sat next to Lori Baker and his wife, and we had a wonderful conversation. Right? Well, definitely his life story is fantastic because the guy who is he's, you know, he's an absolute visionary when it comes to construction. He says, we don't build buildings. We create homes. It has to do again, it has to do with the dignity of the person. If a person has a dignity home that gives them dignity, they will take care of it. It will not fall down. And everything we built nowadays, these new skyscrapers, they're they're designed to break down in 20 years from now. It's not sustainable whatsoever. And that's why we I keep talking to these architect students, get out if you're not a born architect. So our campus was chosen as the second greenest campus in India. And I was not happy. And people said, Are you not happy because you're not number one? I said, no, no, because if this is the second green's campus in India, then we're far away from where we should be. And so we always tell participants that cover architects that come here, there's no copyright. There's a right to copy. Please copy whatever you can copy, because that's a way forward, right? And then there's Jack Frasco. Jack Fresco is also an absolute visionary and he was his time far ahead. Unfortunately passed away a few years ago. I didn't make it to see him or to personally meet him because he's the Venus Project. People should look this up online. It's this amazing project and of course every single cantare inspires me, right? This the story, the strength they have, what they have overcome. If you if you see what these people have gone through and they still smile, and they have a reason not to smile, and if I then see that how many people have everything in the west that are very well off even here, and they just complain, then I'm feeling a little sad because they go like, wait, don't compare to what just a few have more compared to what you have more than most. Right? And that's the thing most people are not in a position that you're in and I think that's something and then you can say like well, I'm lucky, I'm lucky. Now what can you do to make sure that the other people also get a little bit better? That's the thing that we should look at and not that how can I get more like the ones above me and no, what can I do that other people that are underneath and that's the majority the majority of the world is poor, right? So what can I contribute personally to help at least a couple of people out there and if everybody would be doing that again the world would change. Beautiful.
Thank you so much Paul for all this message full of inspiration and hope. I will put in the description the link of contour the way to apply the documentary, the podcast you did feel okay and where is the best way to issue? Is it on LinkedIn. Where if people want to ratio to
reach me personally I think it's LinkedIn. Just send a contact request but with a message. Just a contact request because I've got several thousand people there and otherwise just go through our website and use the contact form there. That also reaches me best way to before you contact me, if you really want to know something about the courses, read the FAQ page. Frequently Asked Questions, because a lot of people can't read. But what's included? It's all on our website. Please study that first and if you dance still have any questions then contact me
then. Don't forget contrary with the little key and what could we wish you all for yourself contrary your wife
I think it's not just for me I think for everybody. I wish that we good health that's one very very underestimated unless you. Get sick. You don't understand what value health has. I wish that we learn from with each other. I wish that we learn from history, because now, at this point, the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history because we always start new wars and it ends up in talks to get peace again. So why can't we just talk without and leave all the weapons out? How can we at a disarmed world? Because I think if there would be any arms in the world like we have them now, there would not be the wars that we're fighting now. And I think if nobody has a gun, nobody can shoot. And if it's a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun, it doesn't matter because there's no guns, right? That will be already a better way forward. And I think it's a world where people do think more critical, ask questions, but one in which we respect each other a little more. I think that's that's a wish for everyone. Just show respect for any person that you meet and treat them the way you want to be treated. And, man, our world will be different.
Thank you, Paul, Namaste. Thank you.