For most parents, it’s extremely difficult to teach their children kindness and generosity and instill in them a sense of caring for others. Even adults find it difficult to donate for charity campaigns. In times when selfishness is a governing principle of the world, Palak Muchhal came to prove that altruism is not a vestige of the past, and neither is it restricted to the rich or to grown-ups.
In 1999, the Kargil War claimed the lives of hundreds of Indian soldiers, thus a large number of families were left without a father or husband. In a country and a social system where poverty was already widespread, losing a parent often meant descending to the lowest possible standard of living.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the town of Indore, a little Indian girl from the middle class was barely learning about her voice. She had just discovered that she could sing beautifully, and was starting to train and improve her gift.
At that time, Palak was only 6; it was then that she noticed the pitiful state of the poor children in her neighborhood, and decided to take a stand and do something to help them. She then spent seven days singing in different shops in Indore and managed to raise over $800, which she then donated to war victims’ families.
But that was only the beginning. Her next charity campaigns were dedicated to families affected by the Odisha cyclone, then to raising money for a schoolboy who needed expensive heart surgery performed at once. The latter fundraising campaign was a success, which not only boosted Palak’s popularity, but also prompted requests from other families who had children with similar conditions. This is how Palak Mucchal, then only 8-year-old, found her purpose in life. From that moment on, she has been raising large sums of money and donating them all to families of children with heart defects.
After the establishment of the Palak Muchhal Heart Foundation in the early 2000s, things started to go more smoothly. The organization enjoyed high publicity and fundraising was made easier, but not effortless. Palak and her brother, Palash, have been holding performances together ever since. Following in his sister’s footsteps, Palash had also started to sing, looking to raise money for children with kidney problems.
The duo held concerts both in India and overseas in charity shows known as “Save Little hearts” (the Hindi name of the show is “Dil se dil tak”, literally meaning “From heart to heart”). They managed to raise over $200,000 in 1500 shows, which has helped save the lives of over 300 children suffering from congenital heart anomalies by granting their families the funds necessary for heart surgery. Palak doesn’t keep for herself any of the charity campaign revenues; she just receives a doll for every child whose life has been saved through her efforts.
Although Palak’s life may seem like a typical charity story, what makes it extraordinary is that all the feats described above were achieved by the time she was sixteen. She sacrificed her childhood and adolescence in order to help the needy, but she says that she does not regret her choice. “Saving a life is more important than playing with a friend,” she declared in 2007, showing unbelievable maturity for a girl of 15.
Now, Palak Muchhal is 22. She has continuously trained and practiced her musical skills and is able to sing in over 15 languages. Recently, she and her brother have drawn the attention of a film producer and started a successful career in hit Bollywood productions. She is now a star, but she hasn’t forgotten what her objective is. More and more children with heart defects are added to the waiting list all the time, and Palak Muchhal is still working hard to increase her collection of dolls with each passing day.