Leadership diaries: A week in the life of a small charity founder

We look at a week in the life of Hanuman Dass, Chairman of Go Dharmic, a small humanitarian charity based on propagating the Hindu idea of Dharma - a world where individuals can come together to create positive change in their lives and their communities.

Its campaigns have included serving food to the homeless, developing libraries for underprivileged children in India, and most recently, campaigning for environmental change.

Monday morning

5.30 am, Every day starts by quickly getting ready, showering and getting fresh for meditation and puja (prayers) at 5.50. I have converted a small storage area into a temple room in my home where I start every day. I chant the Hanuman Chalisa and then read a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. A sacred text by which I try to live every day.

By 6.30, I sit at the desk and write for one hour. I am currently working on a book called Be Your Self — a guide to realising our oneness with all life and with nature. The book expresses the core ethos of Go Dharmic and gives reasons for why our highest purpose is to “Love All, Feed All and Serve All.”

After attending to family duties and dropping my children off at school, I start the working day with a morning briefing call where Go Dharmic staff members provide daily updates from their respective teams. We share updates from operations, campaigns and community teams.

From 10 to 3pm, I focus on external communications, building key relationships and executing our programs. Currently, we are expanding our UK food distributions for homeless and vulnerable people, working on our Ukraine disaster relief effort, and planning new education facilities across India.

At 4pm I prepare to leave for the food distribution for the homeless in Luton, which starts at 6pm and currently serves around 70 people. I attend the distribution and spend time with beneficiaries and volunteers.

Tuesday

After completing the morning ablutions and routine, I travel to the Go Dharmic office in Islington. I have a meeting scheduled with the Go Dharmic Events Manager, who is leading all of the major scheduled events for the year to promote compassion and the idea of Dharma. We have a discussion around spiritual and social events including an event for COP-27 called “Ahimsa (non-violence) and our Environment.”

I have two interviews for an operations manager role we are hiring for, and again then prepare for our biggest food distribution in Central London at 5:30pm, where over 300 beneficiaries receive support. More than 25 volunteers work together in a tremendous effort to help people in need.

I have an evening meeting at 8pm with Dee, our lead contact in London to plan a new weekly distribution in Watford.

Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday and Thursday, morning team update calls begin with a morning meditation to bring our teams together through one shared purpose and intention. Good morning to all. We recite the following prayer every day:

May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector of those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need
For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.


Friday

Friday is a busy day at Go Dharmic, with many of our large projects requiring detailed discussions. At 9:30am, I start by visiting a potential new site for Go Dharmic volunteers and food distributions in London.

At 1:30pm, we hold our weekly Make a Difference call where every central member of the organisation shares a 1-2 minute update of their work and success from the preceding week.

At 3pm I have a meeting with the senior management of our charity partners, Unconnected, who have helped us receive a donation from Vodafone, to provide free mobile data, calls and texts to thousands of people across the UK.

Saturday

Saturday morning, I attend a very important “Love All, Feed All” food distribution at Stockwood Academy in Luton. Hundreds of vulnerable children and their families benefit from the support provided here and we have often heard of people being able to keep the heating on due to the savings from our food support.

Sunday

Sunday the daily routine continues with Puja, Hanuman Chalisa and Gita readings, and then writing. I try to find time to catch up with any outstanding admin on Sundays, whilst prioritising time with the family. I have three BBC regional radio Interviews at 6:00, 6:10, and 6:20pm, sharing an update on Go Dharmic's effort to help Ukrainian refugees.

If you would like to submit a leadership diary, please email melissa.moody@charitytimes.com

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