THE AWAKENING TIMES (TAT): Dear Mohanji, thank you for your time. Many people don’t know about the principles of the ACT Foundation. How does it work, and how does it maintain its purity and financial sustainability?
MOHANJI: We started the Ammucare and ACT Foundation activities in 2003. And right from the beginning, there were a very simple set of guidelines. One is, for every amount we receive, we issue a receipt. So it is authenticated. Second, if we don’t issue a receipt, that means, that money has not been received. Which means we must issue a receipt. In every country, every place, whenever a contribution comes, a receipt is issued. And secondly, all the money we receive, we deposit in the bank, so there is a bank statement that corresponds with the receipt. The same amount goes to the bank, so it is traceable. And for all our expenses, we will have an invoice. When we purchase things, and buy from the market, there is always an invoice corresponding with the amount we paid. So, that flow of money can be traced. Also, for all our activities we have pictures. Everything we do, there is proof for it, a picture. So, these four things are mandatory in the ACT Foundation global arena. This makes things transparent. And this is why so many people like to work with ACT Foundation because everything is transparent. Another point is that they all can participate themselves. They can come, and they can join. We don’t have any barriers, everything is run by volunteers. And anybody can come and join, and become a volunteer. There is no hidden agenda. Whatever you see in the pictures, that is it. Whatever we plan, we execute. There is nothing hidden. There are no big expenses, CEOs, salaries, or money in the organization. All people are unpaid. Expenses are covered sometimes, but that also is traceable, it has audited approval and receipt. So, all accounts and everything are transparent, and at the end of the year, everything is audited. And that is what makes a good organization. Before 2003, I associated myself with different organizations for charity purposes. I used to contribute and I used to volunteer, and many times I saw that they are not much transparent. And also, in some cases, it was proved that there was a kind of using the charity platform to make money. So, I did not want to have anything to do with these things and I decided when I start a charity, it will be transparent, that much that anybody can check it, I wanted it traceable, and audited. We never ask for the money, we present a purpose, a project to the public. And usually, people see this and they come forward, they contribute, and they execute. We don’t ask for money, there is no compulsory payment, there is no membership fee. It is like a family affair. A global family.
ACT Foundation is now active in 28 countries, and every country is unique. They have their unique needs, unique requirements, and problems. So, we address that locally. It is not about transferring money from one place to another. Everything is addressed locally, and fundraised locally, as much as it is possible, so that locally we add value. ACT Foundation has been adding value for the last 20 years, consistently. I remember we started Ammucare in 2003. and our first project was blanket distribution. It was a very low-cost activity. If I remember correctly, it was about 12 000 INR. We distributed blankets in Delhi, and we distributed them to people who were sleeping in the winter, in the open. It was very, very cold. That was how it started. Now, looking back, how many activities, how many places, how many projects… This is what makes me happy. How did it grow? Number one, because it is transparent, people can see. Everything is transparent, audited, and traceable.
I always tell to people who want to start their charity organization, to make sure that there are no hidden plans. It should be transparent and everybody should be able to participate freely, don’t bind anyone with membership fees or compulsory payments. Also, expectations should be defined very clearly. If you are working for this organization, or working within the boundaries of this organization, you have certain guidelines. One of the guidelines is that it should be ethical. All activities should be ethical. Even the distribution of food should not be based on killing somebody else for somebody else. We will not do that. We will not have any cruelty of any kind behind our distribution of food. Everything is ethical and organic, which means, we grew organically. All the things we do, and we have done were as per the requirement. We grew organically. Another thing I always tell is, do not bind people with anything, including payment. Allow them to be here, and not be here. In that way, they will feel good. We need to make everything comfortable and easy. The world needs it today. Otherwise, why ACT Foundation is active in 28 countries? Not because I planned it. It grew organically. It reached places. These are some of the fundamentals. And the reason I started this was that I was not happy with the organizations I worked with. Because, as I said, there were people with heavy salaries and so much of the raised funds went to them. Also, some people used charities as a means to accumulate wealth and money. I was not happy with those things. That’s why I decided if I start something similar, I will live from it, I will not take any money from it. Any money contributed goes to that particular purpose. We started Annandan (food distribution) Ammucare app for this purpose. Anybody can contribute to the app, and the food is delivered at the place, to the people they choose to deliver. And it is traceable. So, we have to be very transparent and very real in our activity. No hypocrisy. It never works here. If you look at ACT Foundation activities, you will see no hypocrisy. Nothing is done for the sake of pictures. And we never raised money by bluffing or pretending. Never. 20 years of experience. Also have never fooled anybody, or collected money for some purpose and used it for another purpose. We never did that. Whatever money we collected for a specific purpose, was spent for that purpose only.
So, these are some fundamentals we can talk about ACT Foundation. It is 20 years of ACT Foundation, a big landmark. Many people have worked hard for it. And I appreciate them. All the people who have come forward and worked. Even now. Some of them have been with me for the last 20 years. Shaju for example. There are so many people like that. And I appreciate their tenacity and their consistency. They have done a great job. Now, more and more people are coming, and it is getting more visible. And that is natural. We respect everybody. New people and old people are all respected alike. Culture of respect. Appreciation, gratitude. And also, whatever we do, it should have an effect, positively. We should not do anything for our satisfaction, it should be for the satisfaction of the entire world around us, the entire society. When society is calm and peaceful, we are also peaceful, we are a part of it. We work like that. We nurture volunteers with this kind of guidance.
TAT: ACT Foundation is a global organization present in 27 countries, but also active in many others. Also, representatives of this foundation are always present and react in crisis areas. We saw ACT4Ukraine, ACT4Turkey, ACT4Croatia, ACT4SriLanka. How do you manage to be present in all those places?
MOHANJI: ACT Foundation is 20 years old and we are present in 28 countries, but we have activities happening even beyond these countries. That is because of the need of the hour. A crisis is something that we can prevent. The ideal is to prevent a crisis. The ideal is to prevent bloodshed, but unfortunately, we are living in a hypocritic world. It is a high level of hypocrisy and pretension, and all these things are existing in our society. We have to admit it. And many times, we don’t have the power to prevent something. Then, what we can do? We can’t be indifferent. We have to accept, O.K. this is the reality, I can’t personally prevent that, but I can support, in whatever way possible the affected ones, the victims. Which we do. And we do it as per our capacity. We are not the government or government bodies, and we are not United Nations, so we can’t have that kind of power, money, or machinery. We don’t have that. So, what we do is, within our capacity, within our machinery, using our contacts-organic contacts, the ones which we got normally, not by favoring something or somebody, we work in places. And we have always preferred to work with government bodies and organizations like Red Cross, or United Nations. We worked with them because they already have their roads made, which makes it easy to work with them.
One example, in the early 2000’s we had the Lebanon war. And we supplied materials from Dubai. We have arranged and packed materials that could be used by the doctors in the war fields. They appreciated it. But we had to work with Red Cross for it because we did not have the aircraft which could take it there. Also, in those days we worked with the embassy of Iran for the Iranian earthquake. We worked with the Philipinian government on the tornados. In those days we have done a lot. We worked with various government organizations during the 2004 tsunami. Like that, we have worked with many, many bodies. When floods happened in Kerala, India we worked with the Navy. When the earthquake happened in Nepal, we worked with the Indian army. We always want to support crisis locations, but at the same time, our focus is on providing and giving food. And now we are trying to teach agriculture, so that sustenance becomes their pattern, their lifestyle. We help them grow their food and be self-sufficient. Also, we provide clothes as much as possible, then education, in our way, within our capacity. While I’m saying all this, please remember, we don’t have huge funds, we don’t have bank balances, and ours is a charity platform. I made it like that. It means, a project is put on the table, and people who like to support will support it. And, as per how much they support, as per their contribution, we do the project. If we get 10 dollars, we do a project for 10 dollars. If we get 100 dollars, we do it for 100 dollars. If we get a million, we do a project for a million. So, it is based on contribution. How much we get, that much we do. So, we have done all these things, food, shelter, education, clothing, health care, environment support, crisis support, all these things we have done, based on what we get, or how much capacity we have, how many volunteers, and how much financial capacity. This is how we normally operate. We are not only focusing on crises, but as socially responsible people, as global citizens, we work beyond boundaries. Recently we had an earthquake in Turkiye, and our people went there, from Europe, from the USA, and went and worked there. There was one earthquake after another. Aftershocks. So many people have lost their lives. We don’t know how many. So, we were there. We supported. We also helped the people of Iran. Sometimes it is not easy to bring people to work and help because there are so many boundaries and barriers. We are still living in the human world, where we believe in man-made barriers. Ideally, we should be open to any help from outside, but that is not the case. In so many places we have to go through various hurdles, to reach the needy and help them. But that is how the world is. We can’t do much about it. Prevention is always better than cure. Prevent wars, prevent bloodshed, prevent displacement. All these you can prevent. But, if you can’t prevent it, don’t be indifferent. Help the helpless.
TAT: What about collaboration with other organizations?
MOHANJI: We do participate and collaborate with other organizations, but our one condition is transparency, they should also be transparent. We do not want to work with organizations with huge establishment costs, and huge administration costs. 80 % money they got, they use for themselves. We don’t want to work with such organizations. We will work with organizations, even smaller ones, where everything is transparent, they do their thing, and I prefer working with them, rather than big organizations, where 80% is hidden, there are a lot of administration costs, and so on. I prefer working with smaller organizations in every country, to support each other. Also, we are not a cash machine, we have to raise funds. And how much can we raise? Based on the project, people like the project. And we have our platform and some reach, but that reach is sometimes not enough. Because the size of the project is much, much larger. For example, a child’s surgery, and medical expenses for some special diseases cost millions, and we can’t raise such funds. We don’t have that capacity. For one person to raise a million dollars for medical support, we can’t do this. This only government can do. Local governments or insurance companies probably can do this. Our organization can not do it, and there is no point in attempting that. We can probably raise 100 000 dollars maximum, because we have so many projects running, and the same people are contributing. So, we can’t ask them, now, let’s focus on raising one million for one child. Of course, we respect that the child needs treatment and that life is precious. But, capacity. We should only do it within our capacity, within our priority levels. That is why we don’t support many of these medical support things because that kind of funding is not possible. But, at the same time, we never, ever, compromise on serving food. That is one of the fundamentals of organization. Nobody sleeps hungry. That is our aim. Nobody sleeps hungry. ACT4Hunger is for that, to make sure that everybody has at least one proper meal a day. We don’t have the access to unlimited food supplies, but, within our capacity and our strength, we are providing whatever we could in the areas where we are present. So, we can work with various like-minded organizations, transparent organizations, anywhere, anytime.
TAT: What is your vision for the future of the ACT Foundation?
MOHANJI: ACT Foundation is 20 years old now. And I envision it in every corner of the Earth, 195 countries, giving hope and life to many beings. Not just humane beings, ACT Foundation does not cater only to human beings. We care for the sea life, beings of water, beings of air, beings of earth, our natural companions from Earth, various species, and also human beings. In human beings, the sick and old, nursing mothers, and children, this is exactly what we are predominantly addressing. It does not mean that other people are ignored, or anything, but this is our primary focus. There are various organizations only catering to human beings. But we would like to bring social awareness also. The acceptance. Ethical awareness. How to live an ethical life, without harming, hurting, or killing anybody. That is why we are 99% providing only vegan food. So, that, through vegan food, we are ensuring that no beings are harmed or killed. My idea is to propagate non-violence. No violence in food. We do not shed blood. We do not agree or approve of shedding any blood. So, this is how I would like to look at the whole ACT Foundation growing. Now it has been 20 years, so we already have a foundation. We are known in many countries, we already have a base. In the next 20, or 10 years we will be much larger, and we might have more vehicles so that it helps our supply. And I think that we will have more visibility and more funding. Still, I do not like to call people and ask them for money. We never did that, and we will never do that. Why? Because this is charity. Selfless service is something you should feel in your heart. You should feel it in your heart, and you should feel like doing it. Nobody should force it, and nobody has the right to force it on anybody. People have their priorities, so if they feel that this is very close to their heart, to do something for the Earth, to give to the helpless, or to give hope and strength to society, then we also help them, we can work together. And also such organizations who are ready to do something for the world. I would like to work with the World Food Program of the UN because we are predominantly providing food for people. But again, within our boundaries. I don’t want to compromise our basic ethics, for the sake of associating with anybody. Because our signature, our identity, and our relevance on Earth today are our unique features or guidelines. That I want to preserve at any cost, no compromises. ACT Foundation will grow, there is no question about it. It will grow further, it will touch many more lives, and I’m 100% sure, that at least 50% of the people whose lives we touched will come back to us as volunteers. So, we will have a great volunteer base. They will do it because they felt what is ACT. When they feel what is ACT Foundation, they will want to support it further.
I remember one girl, who had no money for education, she wanted to study engineering, and we supported her. She finished her studies, got a job, contacted us, and asked how she can help ACT Foundation and Ammucare. I said to her, do something similar to another child or another girl in your college. So, it can be like a chain. Later she told me that she is sponsoring one child who did not have money for studies. Like that, we can have a culture of helping, a culture of selfless service in society. I think everybody should be doing something for everybody. Then, the world will be a better place.
TAT: Any last words, or a message for our audience?
MOHANJI: All of us should be responsible to nature. We are human beings, we are intelligent, we have imagination. And we should all be responsible. And what is responsibility? Making sure that we leave this Earth much better than how we received it. This is what we should do. And, we should plant lots and lots of fruit-bearing samplings, fruit-bearing trees.
Because tomorrow, for the sustenance of species this is essential. All of us, all of us who are reading this, should plant at least 100 trees with our own hands. If we do that, imagine, if 1 million people listen to what we are saying now, and if all of them planted every 100 fruit-bearing trees in the world, imagine how much fruit will be on Earth. And how many beings will be sustained because of that? We should not sell it commercially. It should be open to nature. And please remember, birds have no religion, trees have no religion, no language, no barrier. The only language is love. We also have no religion, we are human beings, our language is humanity, our expression is humanity, and our purpose is humanity. When we are human beings, we should live with humanity. And it should show. Thank you.