In November of 2000 Tom Haig took a break from a writing project he was working on in Dharamsala, India to see some western doctors in Delhi. After a nervewracking hospital visit Tom went to the Paharganj neighborhood in Old Delhi to buy some medicine and eat a delicious meal at his favorite restaurant, The Diamond Cafe.
While sitting with a newspaper and a tall beer, Tom overheard a conversation that an Indian man was having with a couple of New Zealanders. Ajeet Pal was involved in a lengthy discourse on the third world debt crisis and how it effects the small businessman in India. Tom jumped into the fray but caught Ajeet rolling his eyes when he said he was an American.
The discussion stayed civil, but it was clear that Ajeet had issues with the U.S. Tom did his best to convince Ajeet that not all Americans are robberbarrons. The two parted, but the discussions stayed fresh in their respective heads.
For the next few days Tom and Ajeet met at the Diamond and discussed how people view the handicapped in different cultures (Tom is a T-12 paraplegic, and Ajeet is a polio survivor). Tom talked about the incredible strides being made in America, and Ajeet spoke of the horrid conditions in India. Most handicapped kids are shunned from their families and are forced into begging, drug dealing and even child prostitution.
Two weeks later as Tom was passing through Delhi on his way back to America he again found Ajeet and the two decided they needed to do something about the disparity. Ajeet came up with a business plan and Tom vowed to return to America and raise the necessary funds to start the project.
In April of 2001 a generous donation kick started the project. Funds were wired to Delhi and the school became a reality. The first Annual Ajeet Pal Benefit Concert featuring slated for June 9, and featuring Peevish, F, and Fork will provide enough funds to rent the school building for a year.