Afterword Finding Your Path

Premal Shah

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

—Harold Thurman

My path to nonprofits, fundraising, and building began at a pretty young age, when my eyes were opened to the injustice and poverty facing humanity. My parents are from India, and when I was five I went back to my father’s small village in the state of Gujarat. In the middle of this village is a market, which I walked through with my mother.

To keep me occupied, she allowed me to hold onto a one-rupee coin. It was the rainy season, and there was mud and sewage streaming through the streets. As we were dodging vendors, cows, and other shoppers, I dropped my precious coin into the dirty water. As I started to reach for it, my mother slapped my hand and pulled me away, telling me to leave it. It was gunda; it was dirty. As we walked away, I turned my head and looked back to see an old woman in a ragged sari walk over and pick up the coin. She held it up to the sky, and thanked G-d for the blessing.

My life hasn’t been the same since. As it’s said, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” or more accurately, one auntie’s blessing.

What my mother made me throw away was something that literally answered someone else’s prayers. As I returned to my comfortable life in the suburbs of Minnesota, I couldn’t get rid of the uncomfortable feeling that I needed ...

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