The Lodge is justly proud of its achievement in the sphere of charity and for truly upholding and practising this virtue, which is one of the main tenets of Freemasonry. The bounty of this Lodge has not only been large, but its charities have been truly catholic irrespective of creed, colour, clan or country. It has sent contributions towards deserving causes throughout the four corners of the world. We will only quote a few instances.
In 1870, the Lodge extended its helping hand to the poor and destitute orphans of masons, and non-masons in Singapore and to poor Zoroastrians in Persia. To help the widows and children of soldiers fighting in the Franco-Prussian War, the Lodge contributed Rs.448, and forwarded half the amount to the Grand Orient of France, and half to the Grand Lodge of Prussia to be used for the said purpose. In 1871, the Lodge made a donation to a French Arab to enable him to proceed to Gibraltar, and in 1879, the Lodge contributed to give relief to the victims of famine and volcano in Sicily. The Lodge helped Bro. Bomanji Hormasji of Lodge Alexander (New South Wales, Australia) with the capital sum he required to start the business of a photographer. In addition to the above, the Lodge has helped various charitable causes and institutions in India and outside.
In 1931, the Charity Endowments held and administered by the Lodge were separated and transferred to the Trustees appointed from, and by the Brethren of the Lodge, and a Trust Deed was executed. In 1936, a Society under The Societies Registration Act was formed and named Rising Star Benevolent Society so as not to confine the scope of charities to Masonic charities only. This Society has a Capital Fund of over Rs.69,200 and has disbursed considerable sums from year to year. At present all the members of the Society are members of the Lodge, but any Mason can be a member of this Society.
Out of the membership subscriptions collected, the Lodge sets apart 25% for masonic charities. Charity collection is also made at every meeting. The funds are freely disbursed and not accumulated as the Lodge has always believed that he who gives immediately gives twice over. In 1903, Surgeon Major Cawasji Sanjana a non-mason sent a donation of Rs.500 to the Lodge to return the aid given by the Lodge in former years to a member of his family. The act speaks for itself. It is not only a tribute to the Lodge itself, but also to the donor as it proclaims the spirit prevailing in those days.
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Our lodge took the lead and tied up with The Ruling Masters Guild and The Vision Foundation of India to organise a free eye camp in the rural sector. An eye camp was held at Vadoli village (about 130 kms from Mumbai) for the local adivasi population.
About 300 students from nearby schools, and 250 adults had their eyes tested. 19 cataract operations were performed. 165 spectacles were distributed.
About 30 freemasons with their family members went in a specially hired bus, while the Vision Foundation of India sent their fully equipped medical van, equipped with a generator and a multitude of precision ophthalmic equipment, along with a separate van for their team of 8 doctors.
A special project committee was constituted to identify worthy causes where the Lodge could help in cash and/or kind. A few members of the Lodge visited a few deserving institutions and identified the orphanage run by The Handmaids of the Blessed Trinity, under the aegis of the Rosa Mystica Convent, at Vasai (a suburb, just outside the municipal limits of Mumbai).
This orphanage had 23 children when the members first visited it (and now the total has risen to 55). After discussions with the care-taker about their needs, it was decided to donate them beds. Double bunk beds were suggested to conserve space. The Lodge carried out a special drive amongst it's own members to fund the same. The project was also discussed at The Ruling Masters Guild, and the project was warmy welcomed. The Ruling Masters Guild also contributed substatially to this cause.Our Lodge members then made an appeal for funds to the Projects Committee, of The District Grand Lodge of India, Scottish Constitution, and also the Grand Chapter of The United Scottish Royal Arch Freemasonty in India and Ceylon. Both these bodies reciprocated to the appeal.
This enabled 12 beds to be financed. A fabricator was contracted to make the beds as per our design. The beds were fabricated on site and handed over to the orphanage on a weekend when a few members and their spouses visited the orphanage. The children of the orphanage put up a spontaneous show of gratitude and regaled the members with traditional song and dance, which touched our inner most heart-strings.
A special project committee was constituted to identify worthy causes where the Lodge could help in cash and/or kind. Brethren who had visited the the Multiple sclerosis society of India, informed the members that multiple sclerosis was a disorder of the central nervous system of the body, whereby the person became totally dependant on other people for normal/ordinary activities, and thus become removed from social activities. They added that physio-therapy was the primary method for treating/curing the afflicted persons. The Lodge carried out a special drive amongst it's members and collected funds which were given to the society, specifically to be used for physiotherapy of afflicted persons.
A special project committee was constituted to identify worthy causes where the Lodge could help in cash and/or kind. A few Brethren visited the Society for the education of the crippled. This society also has it's own workshop, which fabricates a variety of braces for use by the crippled. The Lodge carried out a special drive amongst it's members, specifically to help this society. This amount was also augmented by drawing from Lodge charity fund. A sum was handed over to the society, which would cater to the expenses of 3 crippled children for one year.
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With the outbreak of a global pandemic caused by Covid-19, the need to defend the frontlines became an urgent necessity. Government agencies were stretched thin and their efforts were augmented by NGOs and individuals into social services. People took upon themselves to cater to various strata. Some people/NGOs gave food to migrants and daily wagers, some took care of doctors and some took care of police personnel. We decided to help out by donating medicines, PPE kits and monetary aid to NGOs.
Bro Varun Gajra, our member who was stranded in Belgium, for the lockdown, used his tremendous resources and business contacts, to procure (at personal cost) large quantities of N95 masks, PPEs and, isolation suits
that he donated to various countries around the world.
He made available material that was distributed as under:
A complete lockdown of the country was declared on March 23rd. Even though no physical meeting were possible, our Lodge brethren met over a video conference and were determind to do their bit to do all they could for those not as fortunate as us. The Lodge donated Rs. 2,90,000/- to various NGOs who had their presence on the field in distributing food and water to those who needed it the most.
One of the NGOs supported was the Robin Hood Army (to the tune of Rs. 1,20,000) which had volunteers on location feeding migrant workers at Charni road and distributing milk and packaged water in various clusters besides the feeding of doctors and staff at JJ & GT hospital.
They fed 200 street people plus approximately 100 others in clusters they are worked in. Around 600 meals a day. Money was made available for other activities like feeding migrant workers and milk distribution in clusters. A request from daily wage workers at Crawford Market for raw rations was also accomodated.
To some Kashmiri migrants around Wadala, were distributed aata (flour) 10 kgs, rice 25 kgs, Daal 8 kgs,Tata salt 1 packet, Sugar 1 packet, Jada poha 1 kg, Moong, besan, matki 1 kg and Toor daal 1 kg. Milk was distributed to 300 families at Asha Nagar. 300 litres of milk was also distributed at Walkeshwar and Wadala slums.
Another NGO Under the Banyan Tree that we supported (to the tune of Rs. 50,000) distributed around 15,000 meals.
Dr. Tejas Kothari, an Honorary Police surgeon, whom we supported (to the tune of Rs. 100,000), facilitated donation of medicines to boost the immunity of the armed forces by distributing Vit C, B12, D and E (15 day course) for approximately 44000 police personnel. Furthermore, PPE kits were required at the Police Hospital at Nagpada in Mumbai. The police hospital caters only to Police Staff and their families. Being a part of the services, they always got least priority for equipment, since the public hospitals came first. Therefore, we stepped in and took care of their requirements for PPEs and facemasks. These were directly given to the Police Hospital at Nagpada and will further internally be distributed to 12 police auxiliary clinics in Mumbai.
Our Lodge donated an amount of Rs. 20,000 to United Way, Mumbai for facilitating migrants return to their villages. During our complete lockdown, migrant labour, out of work in our cities, were left without any means of livelihood and were desperate to get back to their villages. We supported "United Way" - an organisation that facilitated this return with bus services and food. They arranged cooked meals, dry food items, water bottles and juice along national highways and routes which had a large number of people walking.
They also arranged for transport services to allow for safe and dignified travel. Along route, each passenger was supported with an allowance of Rs. 500 to assist in last mile connectivity. They received fruits, dry food packets and 5 litres of water to consume during the journey. All protocols specified by the state of departure and arrival were followed while facilitating the transportation.