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Palak Muchal, aged 8 is worthy of emulation!

Palak Muchal  reaches out to children with heart diseases!

In a sturdy middle income suburb of Indore, lives Palak Muchal. She is 8. In the last year she has raised over Rs.750,000. And given it all away!

What is it about India, that amidst all the obvious acquisitiveness, you also find people reaching out to the deprived around them? There must be a strong strand of altruism in the tradition of this land. And you come across philanthropy not only among the well-to-do; frequently, you find it among simple middle income folk, who you might expect to save money, rather than giving it away.

Gifted child.

Palak's father is an accountant in a private firm and her mother is a housewife and they live an obviously simple life. And to them Rs.7.5 lakhs is big money. The reason for this phenomenon, probably lies in the sense of gratitude that many Indians develop for modest good fortunes and consider all these to be gifts from god.

Palak's own gift manifested early: she has a divine voice, and a fearlessness about performing on the stage. Add to that her 'Shirley Temple' good looks! Her light music concerts are a sell-out! She has a repertoire of 170 songs!!

Soon she was inducted into the Little Star Ensemble run by the film music directors Kalyanji-Anandji. This was the break this fine young family came to cherish as their good fortune. It    drew them into 'doing something' for others. When the Kargil war broke out, Palak sat on the pillion of her uncle's scooter and the duo went shop to shop raising money for the wounded soldiers. She would approach a shop-keeper, belt out a song and gratefully accept whatever he was willing to pay. Can't have been much and the Rs.21000 she raised over several days must have involved several stops and much travel. Shortly thereafter, her father organised a concert and donated the Rs.19000 raised, to the victims of the cyclone that devastated Orissa in early 2000.

Lokesh started her.

By now her reputation began to spread and soon the connection emerged, with what was to become her mission: raising money for corrective heart surgery on children with cardiac defects.

It began with young Lokesh Kuril, born with a congenital heart defect. The surgery was to cost Rs.80,000 and at Rs.60 a day, Lokesh's father total earnings in an year is about Rs.24000! What then happened, must warm the cockles of India lovers' hearts. The teachers of his school approached Palak. A charity concert followed and raised Rs.51000. Doctors in Manipal Heart Foundation in faraway Karnataka heard the story and offered to operate on Lokesh free of cost. Lokesh was born again.

The story gets even better now: when Palak offered the left-over money to the Kurils, they with the dignity that only the poor are capable of, refused it and suggested that it be given to another needy child. That set the course for Palak and her family.

Others pitch in.

They have today a list of 47 children who require critical surgery. And Palak is determined to raise the money needed for them. Dr. Dhiraj Gandhi of T.Choithram Hospital in Indore came on board the project: he would operate free, on all the children sponsored by Palak. And so they checked up the children and lined them up in the order of their criticality.

And where is the mission now?

Take this: between April and October, 13 children had been operated and set on a road to a healthy life.

Palak has been busy as a bee! She has in that time raised Rs.7.5 lakhs. She asks for a guarantee fee of Rs.51000 for each concert and passes it on entirely to the mission. She and her parents are also actively involved in the co-ordination between the child and the doctors, in the counseling of the parents, in looking up the child in the hospital and finally, in seeing that follow-up measures are carried out at home.

A child still.

There is a glow of contentment in the small family of Muchals. Younger brother Palash has also joined the Little Star Ensemble now and appears on the stage with his sister. His forte is mimicry! The children have traveled overseas and delighted Indians there. As with many Indian families education is all important and Palak and Palash are diligent students.

For all her precociousness, she is an angelic child with huge eyes and a dimpled smile. She showed off her bicycle and just as I was leaving, ran in and bought out her pet white mouse: 'Please write about him too! His full name is Gopichand; I call him Gopi!'

Palak Muchal

106 Janaki Nagar Extension


Madhya Pradesh

Phone: 0731 470708