Showers of Grace all January

The New Year goes Dhoom
We started January with a Dhoom as 400 of our kids got not just their first multiplex experience but got to see a movie in a hall for the first time in their lives. The experience was made complete by pop corn and cola. The showing was courtesy Sanjay Bhattacharya, Meenaal Sata’s distributor friend, with contributions from Yash Raj Films and Singapore Round Table 1. L& T generously provided buses and food packets for the kids.

Day of Grace dedicated to Mumbai’s volunteering spirit
We celebrated two years of our birth as a simple thought under the cool clear skies on a delightful Saturday evening studded with music, dance and endless joys.

Thanks to everyone who made it possible: Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust’s (BBRT) faith in our vision gave us the early encouragement to spread our wings. Ever since, the body has been there gently steering us at every step. For Day of Grace 2014, the trust simply decided to gift us the grand Bandra Fort, Amphitheatre as the venue. With a picturesque backdrop, the tone was set for a memorable event.

Thank you, Robin Nath and Arup Sarbadhikary and their respective large-hearted wives for supporting us at every step. Benedict Soares Albert, our vigilante and crusader, who even allowed us that extension of event time despite of possible serious consequences.
Much appreciation goes to Mr.Akshay Raheja of the Kamla Raheja Trust and his team especially, Mr. Krishna Bhat- our Santacruz center is only possible because of the space they continue to offer. For the Juhu center we are grateful to the Rotary club of Bombay Airport. With magnanimous hearts such as these, our future can only flourish.
When intention, goodness and magic came together – Day of Grace’2014

Wings on the angels, Help them fly high,
Dear Angel Xpress, All the way to the sky!!!

These lines crafted by Ayush Man Shreshtha set our already jubilant spirits soaring to the sky, quite literally at the event. Conceptualized with a humble idea to celebrate the beginnings of Angel Xpress, the event was a coming together of kindred hearts that care for a common cause, looking through the lens of a year worth of joy, hard work and fortitude. Indeed, what was once a distant vision is now reality!

So on 25th January’2014, we opened our gates and hearts to 500+ audience amidst resounding claps and cheers. We were bestowed with love and encouragement in hundreds, and large numbers continue to come forward to enlist for our cause.

Our talented presenters Sunny Hinduja and Shijini Raval warmed the audience for brilliant musical performances. Ayush Man Shreshta, the ebullient artist won our children over with his playful tunes. Geetu Hinduja, with her spunky spirit and vivacious music revved up the energy. When the fascinating Sunita Bhuyan played her tunes, the audience was beguiled. Later the artists jammed and a thrilled uproar went through the audience.   

The screening of the documentary on Angel Xpress titled “Be the Change” by the talented photographer/screenplay writer duo Payal Kumar- Anand Sivkumaran struck a deep chord with the audience. 
You can see it here:

Just when the mood was somber and time scarce our, our kids decided to step on the stage and entertain all. Such was their unbridled energy and sheer talent that volunteers were surprised despite of being present through practices.

Someone surely gobbled up time that day because the event ran an hour longer than planned and we yet couldn’t have a closing speech. Thank You’s couldn’t be made to BBRT or even to Indriyaji Sethi of Tata Sons, thanks to whom Tata Coffee generously sponsored yummy treats for children. A day full of grace, it felt ordained and blessed, for how else do we define the undulated success. View more pictures of Day of Grace on:
Anubha Sharma’s heartfelt speech on how Angel Xpress Foundation was designed to happen in her life:

Anubha says: “It’s like this, I am a tigress in every aspect of life but you put me on stage with a mike in my hand and I'm a nervous wreck. On the evening of the 25th of January, during the Day of Grace Concert that had been successful beyond my dreams, with the crowd exceeding even the numbers I had prayed for when in truth I had expected only half; the musicians after having completely wowed the crowds, put up a tough act for me to follow, and there, scheduled to give one of the more important talks of my life, I was left fumbling between the sheet in my hand and the glasses on my face because with my reading glasses on, either the audience was a blur or the sheet was. 

I finally gave up and just told the story as I remembered it, hoping that the truth of it would still reach out and my friends tell me it did. Here is the prepared speech that my sister Anjali Sharma and my best friend Tejas Datta were wishing they could have worn my body and delivered :-)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not every day one gets to live their dreams; often, it is only after that dream is materialized, that we even realize that we had dreamt this once… My early influence stems from reading an article in the Telegraph magazine about a French national staying in Kolkata who had adopted 5 street children and turned their lives around.

This had given rise to a desire to do something similar but life moved on and that dream got buried under the cuts and thrusts of the corporate world. 4 years ago, while writing my life-story for a workshop, a lot of you in the audience know what I’m talking about. I wrote about building a home for street children; only that was planned for 10 years hence. But here I am today, and I am not going to apologize for being early. 

Angel Xpress for me has been a magical journey; where life took over plans. For what was in store for me, was far more blissful than anything I could have asked for. A year ago, I was up against a wall, seriously questioning the sense in continuing with Angel Xpress, given the ups and downs in the support I received. I even appeared for a job interview and came out feeling miserable and guilty; even at that point I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I can tell you from my experience that you know you’re on the right path when every other path fades away.

20 years of a corporate life was exacting, but I enjoyed what I was doing and of course the benefits that come with success. I can also tell you that not all earthquakes are bad. Sometimes, the ground beneath our feet shakes to land us in the right spot. In 2011, I had decided to take a sabbatical and experience things I had been missing out on. One of the activities I took up during this time was volunteering and eventually I landed in a street school where some industrious morning walkers taught slum kids from around the locality for an hour every day.

My first class here brought me face to face with the sad reality of school going children struggling to be able to read or write. Here I was, someone who adored reading, teaching kids for whom every word was a war. To imagine someone going to school not being able to read simple words was painful. I was concerned “how would a child with no knowledge of English, the most basic math or the ability to apply logic, fare in the job market in a city like Mumbai? I was determined to try and fill this gap while I could and was at this school every day to spend an hour with these kids.

In January 2012, a facebook message I posted requesting clothes for these kids who came wearing t-shirts and shorts on chilly mornings, resulted in 3000 calls in a week. I was stunned to learn that so many people out there actually wanted to help. Soon after that a party for kids that I had organized on the 26th of January had a surprise guest, the actor Mr.Jackie Shroff, who incidentally was among my first 10 callers. 

His presence of course was fodder for conversation, if you are my age (and of course female), you had to have had a crush on him, sometime in your growing up the topic came up in my next conversation with my teacher and guide Prasad Karmarkar, this handsome looking dude back there. The story of the 3000 calls came up and suddenly he turns to me and says “Anubha this is your calling, this is what u have to do now”. And when I protested he said - Try leaving Bombay or doing anything else… 

According to him, it seemed I must abandon a 20 year old career; where I had reached a certain position and market value, to pursue something I knew nothing about, and which would have no monitory return. It might have seemed illogical but I had seen him being uncannily right on too many occasions, so I took my leap of faith.

It had become obvious that in a city like Mumbai where millions of kids go without guidance of an educated adult, there were thousands willing to contribute with their time and resources; slums, high rises and parks exist side by side across Mumbai. I started out, partnering with Beenaa Advani, one of the early callers who had stayed in touch and our first center came up on Bandra Bandstand with blessing of the bandstand trustees with 18 kids and a few volunteers who were mostly wives of the trustees.

Due to lack of consistent support in the earlier days (which was less than a year ago) there were times when Beena and I were found teaching 100+ kids all by ourselves in Santacruz, but this year has turned things around, the number of people present here is a testimony to that fact. Today with your help ladies and gentlemen, we now support 1700 children with English lessons through appointed teachers inside BMC schools and another 500 with FREE Math and English lessons at our centers with help from 75 + regular volunteers.. Shall we give the people sitting next to you who have made this possible a big round of applause?

I am proud to be associated with all of you who are willing to do something to make things right. I dream every day. I dream that that there is an Angel Xpress center in every park across Mumbai. I dream that by 2020, we will fill a stadium with our volunteers; and I believe in my dream.”
When we travelled across the world thanks to Kumar Bhaya’s gumption
Inspired by his daughter Trisha’s innocent questions, "Papa, what do we do with all our paintings? Can we sell them and raise some money for a charity?" Kumar Bhaya set series of event in action which led to creation of Angel Xpress calendars. When he initially ran a print of 200 calendars, he didn’t expect the numbers to quickly rise up to 800 copies. Willing hearts came forward from several continents. The simple art calendar project is now cheering homes and offices across Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, San Francisco, Yangon, Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata

With one incredible idea Kumar Bhaya and his zealous team has added a whopping 2.3 lakhs to our kitty. Thank you Kumar Bhaya for being the driving force for this project, Laxmi Kaul for the idea, Bhairav Chopra for the impressive design, Ravi, Suresh and Meghana Bhaya for pushing the sales. Not to forget the talented Trisha and Ranvir Bhaya, the artists and innovators. It is always the magic in small ideas that go on to make a big difference.  
Finally! You can visit us from anywhere at
We now have a website and we are proud of it. You are invited to drop in and learn more about our cause, vision and plan or maybe just smile along as you read our volunteer stories.

 Write to us with you suggestion, idea or if you can support us in any way possible. And lastly, do remember to the share the link with your circle of people. Your simple gesture can create a magical ripple effect of goodness for us. 

The website is a gift to us from Gunjan Pai our honorary head of communications of , Tapan Parekh of who has donated time and space to host us and Payal Kumar of our very own photographer extraordinaire.