Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Charity begins at St Kilda

There are some people who are pioneers, they are willing to give life a go and to do something great with their time and resources.  I recently came across an article about a man who has shaped his Community and has grown from a tiny vegetarian restaurant to become a thriving business that gives, shares.  A business not built on the model that many of us are used to and it is this young man that was called a pot smoking hippy and a crazy man yet what most didn't see was his big heart and desire to make this world a better place. 

What he built was a restaurant that started out in Blessington Street St Kilda where I used to frequently visit called Lentil as Anything and at the time the many people around him thought that it should have been called "Mental" as Anything instead. Little did I know that this young man that I met 13 years ago and whose meals I used to eat weekly would become an inspiration to many.

Shanaka Fernando is a revolutionary. For many years he has been well known in Melbourne, Australia, as the pioneer of the pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurants.  This humble man leads a simple, modest life as he continues to inspire and challenge perhaps millions as he advocates an inclusive, ethical approach to business and life, and a belief in the innate goodness and generosity of his fellow man.

His socially responsible Lentil As Anything restaurants feed thousands every week, and set an example for other restaurants and businesses to follow – an example which illustrates what an inclusive, ethical approach to business, and life, can achieve. In his restaurants it is people that qualify life, not property. ‘You get fed and treated with dignity even if you don’t have any money, and the colour of your skin and your education and your beliefs only put you on a par with everyone else.’
Shanaka is a modern day folk hero, offering an alternative, a new way of living that is not based on consumerism, profit or greed.  He was named Australia’s Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards and was a guest judge on MasterChef alongside the Dalai Lama.

It just goes to show that you should always follow your heart and never let others tell you what is right or possible.  We all have a purpose and with our unique talents and our way of being a channel for what the creator has brought us here to do, we CAN change the world and be joyful that we are doing something great for others and ourselves.

And as the famous Gandhi saying goes "Be the change you want to see in the World".... 

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