We are very sorry that Michael is no longer with us, our hearts go out to all his family and friends. A genuinely compassionate person who we miss immensely. Shortly before Michael passed he wrote us this letter which truly reflects the person he was. Our friend Michael McAbe still lives in this words. (Original Letter)
On one beautiful sunny day i wandered into a charity shop in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, West Midlands. an elderly gentleman sat patiently waiting to serve whoever may enter. We exchanged pleasantries and i browsed, seeking nothing really.
We began to talk, and i learned of a man called Tersam Lal, and it was explained to me what work the charity was doing. The more we talked the more i felt a need to meet this man. The conversation would not leave me, so two days later i went again to the charity shop. On this occasion i made a small donation and was called into the office in the back to receive a receipt for my money. There sat Tersam Lal. I was moved instantly by his sincerity and i asked if i could help in this wonderful work for the poor.
He talked with me for some time, showing me photos of many suffering souls in the villages of the state of Bihar. There were people with leprosy, the blind, and many other poor souls suffering from a variety of illnesses. Tersam was working day and night to raise funds to carry out medical camps, to dig wells, to bring food to people who were living on leaves and eating ants. Their conditions were terrible.It touched me how this gentle, loving soul worked seven days a week, non-stop and not touching a penny for himself. Driving around in an ‘old banger’ for a car, and living very frugal himself. His family were also helping and making a great effort to support him, which was the beginning of the Divine Onkar Mission.
Four years previous to our first meeting he had with him a few dear and sincere friends who along with his wife and family also served faithfully. He also had Manohar Singh and family, Mr Railly and family, Mr Charni and his family: All of whom still serve faithfully twelve years on.
I became intrigued with Tersam Lal by his total, loving and sincere commitment to helping suffering humanity. I had never met such a loving, warm and caring person such as him.
The charity flourished and nurtured like a little baby by him. It grew and soon more medical camps were made. A hospital in Ramgarh Cant, Bihar was built and eye operations were started and people who had never seen before received their sight. A kind person gave a warehouse to be used for the collection of clothes to sell to recycle facilities. Lorry loads of children’s and adult clothing was also sent to any part of the world where disaster struck, such as famines and earthquakes. Europe, India and Briton benefitted from the vision and hard work that Tersam did, even when he himself suffered illnesses. He struggled to carry on, having eye troubles, diabetes and arthritis that gave him pain after pain. Yet his concern for the poor would not let him be still, driven on by what he found on his regular trips to India to monitor the work being carried out.
He had so much opposition from the authorities, (the wheels in India grind slowly) and the superstitions he met in many villagers, giving him headache after headache as he tried to alleviate the suffering of others. It broke his heart to see not only the people living in such terrible conditions, but also animals, i remember seeing tears in his eyes as he saw a cow with a broken leg trying to stand against a wall to keep itself upright and enabling it to walk so painfully. Saddened also by the rabid dogs and so many other poor and suffering creatures.
Tirelessly and selflessly he carried on setting up projects to help widows who had been abandoned, orphans who were starving and diseased, people with leprosy, cancer, the blind, poor souls who suffered terrible burns and many others.
Soon he saw that there was a great need in Orissa for his help and so he started projects there similar to those in Bihar. Also at some time doing projects just outside Delhi where there are 21 leprosy colonies and building houses in one part of the Punjab. His love seems never ending. He has also helped several societies in the UK such as help for battered wives, alcoholics and drug users.
Later on Kuldip Rai came to join the charity as did Ram Agarwalli and Simon, who serves in collecting the donated items and taking van loads of cloth to be recycled. He is a young man with kindness and full of enthusiasm towards helping the poor.
The mission grew as an orphanage was built in Bihar for some of the many children whose parents are victims of leprosy and who are unwanted by the world because of the stigma that goes with the word ‘leprosy’. To see these children before they are taken in at the orphanage is heartbreaking. They have little or no life but to beg for food to keep them alive. Then when you see them at the orphanage, smiling, dancing, singing and getting a first class education, and it is to them a miracle.
The charity kept on growing and land was purchased by the hard work of all those earlier mentioned, and Tersams vision of new life and hope for the poor began to bear fruit. Others in the U.K. came to help and soon agricultural techniques and education began to flourish in Orissa. Hundreds of water wells were dug sponsored by kind patrons in the U.K. A hospital and sewing classes were established in Orissa, and today, continue to grow, all because one man is determined that the poor have a right too in a developing world. Like a saint his hands, heart and door are always open to serve.
Ambulances have been purchased and in village after village, non-stop, all begin to prosper. Unpaid volunteers in the U.K. continue to come and help Tersam the soul we have all come to love for his honesty a conscientiousness in seeing that every penny donated is spent on the poor. There are no paid directors.
It is a privilege to serve with such a person as Tersam Lal and unknown to him all his friends wish him to be nominated for this prestigious award. We do know that he does not desire it, but we feel that such a devoted person who never thinks of himself should be given some sort of recognition, and apart from trying to give some of the love that he gives out, we see no other way if honoring him and letting the world know that truly this is a very rare soul indeed.
Were i to attempt the impossible and write every single instance of his help to each individual i feel sure my life would be too short to put them all down, and even now as i sit at my writing desk Tersam is trying to organise the fundraising for our first mobile hospital.
When you come to know him as i do you can see that he has the perfect insight into the needs of others and he desperately tries to meet the needs of the poor and underprivileged. You may think that i idolise him, but it is his ideals and godly achievements that i personally idolise.
My own personal debt to Tersam Lal is for his help in showing me my own tendencies towards others. I can never repay him, and i feel sure that it is the same for all those loving and caring hearts who have come to join in his mission to be compassionate towards all who suffer.
Against much adversity he has snatched many people from the flames of destruction, including myself, a one time thief, drug addict and alcohol abuser, a person selfish in nature, full of ego and pride. This being unforgivable to most people, yet he gently took me at face value and tempered and hammered away all those wrong things until one by one they went, and now he has helped me to realise my true worth and value as a human being making me fit to serve those who suffer.
(Transcribed by Jeevan)