I want to tell you a story--- one that changed my life.
My name is Martin Sandel. In 2007 I traveled to India where I was taken to a leper colony, a place where men, women—and, yes, children--- subsist as beggars, outcasts rejected even by family. These lovely people proudly showed me their “homes” which I am embarrassed to say were, in entirety, about the size of my master bathroom. Except… they had no bathroom or even running water other than that pouring through holes in the roof during the monsoons.
As I prepared to leave, the “head man” raised his arm, motioning me to wait. Placing a crude bamboo ladder against a tree, he plucked off the last two coconuts and gave them to me as a gift in appreciation for my visit. I had given them nothing except my time and respect. With tears running down my cheeks, I was overcome with emotion. What’s wrong with this picture? I hang onto what I have for fear there won’t be enough to last the rest of my life and yet these impoverished lepers give me their last fruits as an unconditional gift of love? How can I go home as if I had just seen a documentary and now it’s time to turn off the TV and go to sleep?
Upon returning to America we formed Last Coconut Foundation, a registered 501 (c)(3) charity, to provide a pathway for the forgotten, including Dalit (untouchable) children in India.
Last Coconut Foundation is a registered 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.
A chance encounter with lepers in India
Providing a pathway for the forgotten