On a beautiful, mid-March evening, a group of Asian Americans from the San Francisco bay area gathered to recognize unsung heroes living amidst them.
As they gathered at the broadcasting premises of a community TV studio in Santa Clara, they understood the common thread which bound two community heroes – one of them provides food, clothing and hygiene kits to the homeless, while another risked his life to report a gunman traveling on a commuter train, thus helping to save countless lives. Compassion and selfless caring for the community at large was the driving force behind both efforts. Hidden Treasures was a collaborative community forum event organized by India Currents – Silicon Valley’s popular community magazine and Ding Ding TV – a community television station.
The first speaker and a HiddenTreasures honoree was Nathan Ganesan who runs Community Seva a non-profit with a 100% highly committed volunteer base. Volunteers cook and serve meals, distribute backpacks, hygiene kits and offer a mobile shower service to the homeless in the bay area. The video that Nathan shared on the organization’s activities showed volunteers cooking delicious meals and connecting with homeless citizens who beamed with joy and hope – the interactions shown on screen brought many to tears. The organization’s pride and joy is their brand new, state-of-the-art kitchen that they now own after years of operating in rented kitchens. Nathan shared the history of this 5-year-old service organization, an effort that initially began with just him going out to distribute food during holidays.
Equally powerful in its emotional content was the story of the next speaker and honoree, Lie Liu. On New Year’s eve in 2018, he was traveling on a commuter train to San Francisco. Right next to him was a gunman quietly preparing himself for a shoot out. Mr. Liu’s account was hilarious as he recounted how he conveyed the gravity of the situation while playing down its intensity, as he quietly evacuated other train passengers by tipping them in time. He then extricated himself to go inform the train driver and authorities. The audience was awestruck as he shared that when he was offered an opportunity to be rewarded in public by the City police he declined, letting them know that he had just fulfilled his duty as a responsible citizen.
The audience had a fair share of 16-20 year olds, some of whom got to participate in a discussion panel moderated by Vijay Rajvaidya of India Currents. The guests were Hung Wei an inspiring school board member who encouraged young people in the audience to join public service. Anthony Ng, Executive Director of CLUSA (Civic Leadership USA) shared his amazing experience of transforming an opium plantation into a revenue-yielding coffee plantation.
Even as we continue to watch many disheartening events in the public sphere all around us, this evening instilled hope, inspiration and optimism for life Every community has unsung heroes like the ones who were honored at this event – they are truly the human beings who give hope to all those who live around them.
Nalini Mohan is a world citizen and an untethered spiritual traveler. She finds her intellectual and economic sustenance from the business of software technology, emotional sustenance from her loved ones, the fellow humans she comes into contact each day and Nature. She calls the South bay her temporal home and longs to retreat into the haven of her cozy, tiny apartment after periods of roaming the world, where she reads, dances, and meditates.