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The Magical and Unfathomable GAP 2019 Event!

In all the 50 years of my life, I have never experienced an event like this. I still find it unbelievable that an event like this has actually taken place on earth.  There was magic in the air, with tremendous love for another and a sense of being part of a family that is compassionate and working towards making life better for so many unfortunate.  I feel blessed to have experienced this exquisite divine love and a sense of oneness with so many beautiful people in this sacred place ~ the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, in India. I know in my bones and my heart that the energy and blessings of Gandhiji were surely there, egging us on to come together on this journey of making our world better for all. Organising this 3 day (1-3 Feb 2019) event over the last 3-4 months and bringing 320 people together took every waking hour with very little sleep and challenges galore at every step. Date changes, venues not confirmed, speakers dropping at the last minute, funding not available, event logistics agency not confirmed, not enough this and that…the list goes on. Despite all signs saying this event isn’t happening, my heart was really clear that it will and come what may, this has to happen.  There was absolutely no question about it.


Sunil Savara, Madan Padaki, Pankaj Singh, Amit Mehta and the GAP Team ~ Parul Singh, Anusha Saxena, Arjun KL, Mainak Saha, Kanchan Mittal and Renuka Raghava just came together and against all odds kept going with the faith that this will happen.  And 15 days before the event, things slowly began to fall into place. 50 Speakers came, so did 170 Changemakers and 100 Collaborators.


We worked really hard, but couldn’t plan everything diligently to the ‘T’. And so, naturally a few things went awry, but somehow, on the first day itself, Changemakers and others just stepped up and made this event theirs, and filled in to make everything happen. GAP became ‘Mera GAP’ for each person at the event. So many came forward to help out, Anubhooti Bhatnagar, Harsh Arora, Satarupa Majumdar, Sulbha Laddha, Mala Rihan, Rashmi Nair and many many others.


As a team, we had set the clear intention of love, service, humility and celebration as a space to come from.  This event surpassed all of that, as we became a family.  There were no egos visible at the event (so so unusual), there was not a single complaint (something I have never encountered in my life :)), and people were in flow, moving from one venue to another, from one session to another, absorbing what they could and engaging fully.

I have so many moments to share where the beauty of another was so evident and touched us deeply and left us transformed.  Many of us were overwhelmed at different points through the 3 days with the love that was being shared amongst all.  Tears were flowing and hearts were expanding.

  • Madan welcomed all 320 people to hug and greet each other as brothers and sisters
  • The lighting ceremony initiated by Sunil asked everyone to take an oath to not stop until we eradicate poverty. Each person lit a candle and put it on the podium as a pledge ~ a very poignant moment.
  • Many beneficiaries spoke about the impact of the change initiatives on their lives – youth with disabilities from Youth4Jobs run by Meera Shenoy shared how empowered they feel having a livelihood and being part of the mainstream. Children of sex workers shared how Kat Katha has enabled them to study further and look at other avenues of livelihood.  A fantastic performance touched so many of us on the evening of the 2ndday. The ladies from SEWA shared their stories of becoming independent and being totally empowered.  Their power was so amazing to witness which was followed by a standing ovation.
  • The performance from our soulful rapper, Nimo Bhai, was just electric and evoked so much gratitude for our existence as humanity, creating a sense of oneness in all. This was followed by a trip to Sewa Café where the philosophy of paying it forward for a meal and even taking money that one needs further transformed us and enabled us to experience abundance and love
  • So many stories were shared by our Changemakers ~ Mehrun Siddique who works with children who are involved in sex work in Khajuraho, Parthasarathy who works with the Lesbian and gay communities, George with the elderly on the streets of Hyderabad, all melted us and deepened our compassion for these fellow beings
  •  An hour with this enlightened being – Jayesh Bhai, core member of the Gandhi Ashram and the Safai Vidyalaya household left many souls from the corporate world nourished and totally inspired by the simplicity and wisdom of what he shared
  • Not to forget the innumerable talks and discussions shared by many speakers ~ Arun Maira, Rakesh Sharma, Ravi Venkatesan, Poonam Muttreja, Sandeep Kapur, Mac McKenzie, Liz Coffey and many others who threw light on many ideas and concepts of Amplifying impact through leveraging, visibility, jugaad, creative funding, scaling impact and systems thinking.
  • Changemaker circles on the evening of the 2nd day got everyone sharing their passions and their work and also how they would like to bring Mera GAP alive.  From meditations to hugging to deep sharing, the groups connected very well.

Many collaborative conversations took place at the event and are taking fruition rapidly with lots of energy and enthusiasm. And most importantly, the GAP Community made GAP their own – Mera GAP was birthed and will now begin to take shape across the country.  So many ideas and contributions came through of setting up Chapters in their cities to sharing knowledge and bringing partners to benefit the community.  GAP is surely turning into a movement!


Some words of appreciation from the participants

“At the outset, a big round of applause for you and the entire GAP team for creating such an amazing platform for social sector in India. Truly world class!

During the last 3 days, I have had multiple moment of truths – from feeling restless, to trying out, bit like small drop in an ocean, to feeling grateful, to truly hugging someone, to feeling bliss. The sum of all these experience has made me a) Humble & grateful being b) more eager to do my bit more with more intensity and c) make me realise that change maker needs much more mentoring/support/coaching, then just money! Thanks once again to the GAP team!


Paras Goyal, Team Manager and Coach, BCG India

“True it is that the best of learnings are where one least expects them. GAP Annual Event 2019 was one such place which empowered me with a perspective to be able to realise what more can be done for the community I engage with. What seemed as a uninteresting fund-seeking activity turned out to be a point in life where I faced and conquered my vulnerabilities and also shed the stereotypes of a for-profit model. It provided me with new inputs, and also exemplars for the same, enabling me to review my actions. The best was that it helped me come out of my comfort zone. If personality development, perspective setting and resource mobilisation could ever be brought together in one place, it can only be at a GAP annual event.” 


Vasudev Bajpai, Secretary, De Haath Society, GAP Changemaker

“Firstly we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the entire GAP Team, specially Sunilji and Manishaji for inspiring and motivating us to participate in this year’s GAP International Event which has been truly a game changing experience for us. 

The 3 days event has not only imbibed in us a new spirit to bring in a ‘change’ in the lives of the millions of under served population in India but has also given us few directions towards achieving our broader goals and mission keeping aligned with our organisation’s vision.

 As we had expressed our keen intent during our parting thanksgiving to you all on the 3rd, Ventona HealthTech would like to set up the Eastern India Chapter of GAP in Kolkata to develop the same spirit and bonhomie and the legacies of Head-Held-High, that we have seen at Ahmedabad earlier this month.”


Debashis Ghosh, Founder, Ventona Healthtec, GAP Changemaker 

“GAP has proved to be an amazing platform to learn, connect and achieve the goals with like minded people. It helped to recognize each and everyone’s contribution towards the society for uplifting the livelihoods from various parts of the country. Totally went with so many confusions in my mind and came back with clarity of every single thought I had and a lot of motivation to put step forward and pledge not to stop anywhere.”


Aarti Gupta, Lingua Voce Educational Social Welfare Society Indore, GAP Changemaker

पिछले सप्ताहांत अहमदाबाद में आयोजित कार्यक्रम की सफलाता के लिए पूरे GAP परिवार को HRMF की तरफ से बहुत बहुत बधाई और महत्वपूर्ण कार्यक्रम में शामिल होने काअवसर देने के लिए GAP का बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद! आप द्वारा आयोजित कार्यक्रम में बहुत कुछ सिखाने और समझने को मिला! हम उम्मीद करते हैं की GAP भविष्य में होने वालेकार्यक्रमों में शामिल होने का अवश्य अवसर प्रदान करेगा!


Amit Ambedkar, Founder, Human Rights Monitoring Forum, GAP Changemaker

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