Monthly Archives: October 2016

Gene’s Lifeline (One day at a time)

This true story is all about grace. It starts with early days of experiencing rejection, then gradually reformation and finally reaching out to others!

Gene was the  youngest of 4 siblings ..who were much older ;  the brother 13yrs older, and  two sisters 8 and 9 years older.

Due to financial constraints, first his father went to the Middle East ( where earnings were good)  and then his mother. All his older siblings  moved out into jobs of their own. As a result Gene was left alone.

He came home from high school and college to an empty home.

Many years later his father finally returned to be with Gene and hoped to make up for the lost years. But within 15 days his father passed away.

Lonliness ate into Gene … though he pretended to be okay during the day, when his neighbours met him. To escape this lonliness he watched movies every night ….sometimes the same movie 10 times

Gradually he  got the taste of alcohol , charas and ganja…

He  stopped going to church for 5 years.

When addiction set in he tried to kick the habit but failed repeatedly ; until he came across  the 12step method followed by  the participants of the Alcoholic Anonymous  programme.

The motto “ One day at a time” had a great impact on his life.

His mother also returned after some years. She encouraged Gene with the simple motto; when there are many closed doors, you will find one which will open. She prayed for Gene fervently.

He started going to church again, and  realised that he gained strength from the Eucharist  to overcome his weaknesses. His prayer to the Lord was “ help me just today to be free of addiction”. This was his prayer daily.

He did this for 6 months and realised that he was getting renewed. Thereafter he spent two to three hours daily, before the Lord and received immense grace.

He did not know how to begin life anew. So he visited Asha Dhaan every day from 6.30am morning to 6.30 pm. He began the day with the nuns at the Eucharist and did odd jobs at the centre. Sweeping, cleaning, helping the destitute by shaving, cutting nails and many other simple jobs.

After 6 months of volunteering at Asha Dhaan with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, he discovered his vocation, to reach out to destitutes specially those addicted to drugs and alcohol

He was greatly encouraged by the Sister in charge. He also remembered Mother Theresa’s words “ to help others, one should help oneself…fill one’s belly first and then one learns to help others.”.

He then started being a Sales man for Encyclopedias.  He also trained to be an athlete inspite of having a handicap of the right hand. Later he started sales of building materials. He volunteered to request Pharmaceutical companies to donate drugs which the destitutes needed in the various homes.

He led a life of “ do not worry about tomorrow” and went on the streets to help many addicts and street urchins. He even shared his meals with them on the pavement.

Soon he volunteered his services to Don Bosco’s Shelter , and met his mate in Shobha. She influenced him to get more organized and start a Trust . This was the beginning of Jeevan Dhara, which means Lifeline.

He continued to visit the chapel and faithfully till this day spends at least 2 to 3 hours before the Lord. This is where he gets all his wisdom, grace and perseverance to continue .

Life is not a bed of roses even now. Gene continues to carry his cross  bravely.

Of course the nature of his trials comes in many other forms. Now there are people who question his integrity. As a result of envy, there are times, when he faces opposition, even while  compassionately serving the poor and destitute. He has already been recognised in the church for yeoman service, with the “Fr. Salvadore Rodrigues Award” by the Catholic Sabha, in 2015 and 6 months later was given an award by the Siddhvinayak Temple Trust during the Diwali Festival.

His main refuge and fortress is the chapel , in the presence of the Lord, who gives him strength for each day.

He encourages people with his  motto “ One day at at time” . I have been greatly influenced by his faith, and perseverance; to give prime time to the Lord, in silent prayer. He is an outstanding example of what the Lord can do to strengthen the weak.

He has started centres in Cheeta Camp ( one of the big slums of Mumbai), Mankhurd, and Lonavala . He extends help to the families of drug addicts, alcoholics and aids affected.  He had also started centres in Colaba, and Dahanu, but had to give it up, after opposition from unexpected quarters. His main focus is to help those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, to go through a program of deaddiction. He also has included an outreach to help the aids affected persons. Most of these afflicted are people with limited finances. In addition , Gene has Study centres( Baalwadis) for children and youth of  the affected families. In keeping with the interest of Football, he has started a coaching programme for the youth in the slums and has a talented Nigerian who serves as coach.

Gene has such a kind nature, that he can walk into any area, even the most dangerous slums or bastis, without being harmed. He has been accepted as one , who has no hidden agenda, but only the good of those he helps.

Funds keep coming in to help him in this work. However , it is never enough. He remembers a quote of his Mentor Fr, Richard Lane Smith, which helps  him  keep his feet on the ground

“ When Funds come in, do not get carried away by them. Be strong in faith”

Thus Gene soldiers on, one day at a time , to serve those in need , with his eyes fixed on Jesus.

No wonder, he was at one time known as the Street Messiah.

As he continues his work with ‘ Jeevan Dhara’ , he is ably assisted by his wife Shobha. He is also blest with a beautiful and talented daughter, Sasha. She is still in primary school, but shines in sports and studies.

In conclusion, I am reminded of the words from Sirach 35:16,17

‘The one who serves God wholeheartedly will be heard;

his petition will reach out to the clouds.

The prayer of the humble person

pierces the clouds,

and he is not consoled until he has been heard.’

Indeed Gene’s lifeline is the Lord Himself!  

Gene D’Silva can be contacted on


Postal Address:
7,Rear Helal bldg ; Dr. Mascarenhas road,
Mazagon, Mumbai, 4000010

To Emulate a Hero


We have heard a lot of heroes till date. Some in the sports field and some as leaders in critical times.

Here we have a collegian Harry who has always looked up to the great athletes of the past Olympics.

Harry was of medium height. He had well toned upper arms and chest, short cropped hair and sturdy limbs, well equipped to do middle distance running. He trained regularly and dreamed of making it to the Olympics.  He also read a lot specially about the renowned athletes of our times and even of the past.

He trained sincerely and tried to learn new techniques to do better.

Harry heard about Michael Johnson and then recently Usain Bolt. He dreamed of becoming like one of these athletes.

Now  the college athletics were a few months away. He trained even more. Every morning he woke up , whether in rainy weather or not. He left early mornings with a few fellow athletes, to train at the University Grounds. Joe was a good friend but also a good competitor. Friendship never came in the way of their races.

They both trained for the 400 , 800 and 1500 metres . Their timings were quite closely matched. Harry was the stronger. Joe was lanky and tall, and had elegant strides. It was a contrast of styles.

Harry very determined and focused, whereas Joe was casual and aware of his natural talent.

Harry dreamed of whipping all the others in the his events. He quadrupuled his training efforts. He sacrificed all his time and energy only in this direction.

Joe once teased him: “ So, are you trying for a clean sweep of the 400, 800 and 1500? Oh yes, you have your heroes in mind: but it requires a lot more. Lets see how you do it ?  Don’t forget , I am also in the running.”

Harry quite nonchalantly replied “ I will do my best”

“Oh! I really mean to win”,  retorted Joe.

Ten days before the  University Athletics,  Harry caught the flu. He was down with high fever and had to take prescribed treatment from his doctor. Dr Bratt, believed in heavy dosage of medicines, with the prime purpose of reviving Harry back to health and the upcoming Athletics.

“Harry , ensure that you take these medicines thrice a day and rest enough. I think in 4 days you will be okay”, assured Dr. Bratt..

Joe trained in his own quiet way, without any pretensions of winning as Harry dreamed.

In 4 days Harry recovered from the flu . He had lost weight and was a little weak. However he resumed training and was ready for the final day.

The usual tests for dope were conducted and Harry and Joe were given the green signal.

The three events  were held over two days , and both Harry and Joe reached the finals of all three events. Their timings in the heats were quite good, Joe’s  a little better than Harry.

In the 400 metres finals, Harry was not fast enough and placed a distant third. Joe came in 1st, smashing the meet record by 0.4 seconds.

In the 800 metres,  Joe again ran a tactical race and came in first, with Harry in second place.

It seemed that Harry’s dream of 3 in a row was going to be a complete washout, without a single win.

He got ready for the 1500 metres. This was his favorite  event. The race started at a good pace. Harry ran  to  keep up with the pack. At the end of the first lap , he was in third place. By the second lap he moved to second place and maintained this until the end of the third lap. Before the third lap ended  and the last lap began, he burst into his best speed, overtaking Joe and the rest . However 20 metres away from the finish, Harry tripped over and sprawled onto the track.

Joe  overtook him but then stopped to look back. He was overwhelmed with pity for Harry. But before Joe could do anything to help, Harry stood up and ran like a gazelle to finish in first place. Joe failed to catch up, to finish second.

Joe and Harry hugged each other, and could not believe at this sudden turn of events.

Harry tried to emulate the great Johnson and Bolt , but then struck his own mark by winning the 1500 metres in this fashion.

And Joe….. he was as casual as ever. Notwithstanding his loss in the 1500 in such a dramatic way. He was happy to win the two other events i.e. 400 and 800 metres.

Can I pretend to be someone who I am not?   Is it okay to strive to emulate my heroes ?

Think about it…..we are all gifted in different ways; each given in different measure, which highlights the  motto  “  strive to give off your best”. I think Joe and Harry both did that, each a hero in some way.

Dande’s care for Mother Earth

This man is multitalented. He is an expert photographer, interior designer, landscapist, which includes rock garden and finally a horticulturist.

He promotes natural products like coconut oil, which is helpful for many ailments.

One of his prize creations is “liquid gold” which promotes growth and keeps plants absolutely heathy.

I was very impressed to see his garden. Even though Goa experienced heavy rains, and many flower bearing plants got affected, we still saw his garden looking good.

His Benauli Coconut tree is only 3 years old with a height of about 5 feet, and has already produced coconuts in plenty; he says this is the first  case, to see such fast growth.

His little pond has  an abundance of fish, but he does not feed them. They live just like fish in rivers , from natural sources in the pond itself. They  breed in large numbers, but he did not tell me the name of this species. At times harmless snakes also came there to feed on the fish. ( I have an aquarium of tropical fish, which require feeding  from dry shrimp food or red worms)

His “  liquid gold” is a real wonder.  My wife is an avid lover of plants and I have seen the change that has come in our garden after using this liquid. Plants are absolutely healthy and soon some start bearing flowers in abundance.

What struck me is that Mr. Dande,  loves his work and is a  firm believer in looking after the environment. According to him, all the natural disasters have in many ways occurred because, man has not cared enough for his surroundings.

We procured beautiful begonias in pots. He also had brilliant red anthuriums  which we rarely see.

The waterfall in his garden, flows rapidly into the pond. Lotus leaves float on the pond’s surface. A rock creation seems to climb upwards, and nearby is a natural rock bench. The overall ambience was so peaceful. Just talking to Mr. Dande, gave me hope that if every one makes an effort to care for our environment, we can look forward to more beauty around us……To  make it a better world!!!

A visit to his garden is most welcome : address – Ashok Dande,  Nagali, Taligao, Goa India 403002 .