Nimo Patel

Humanitartian, Hip-Hop Musician, Part 2 - Paying It Forward

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Arts, Community Service, Jesus' Commandment - To Love as He Loved, Putting God First

In the first part of our interview, Nimo Patel shared how he started off his career in business after obtaining a degree from Wharton, left to fulfill his dream of being a hip-hop musician and animation studio owner, and then completely changed course to focus on serving others. In this part of the interview, Nimo shares how he is “paying it forward’’—living a life that blesses others.

You have made some changes in your life—from Wharton School of Business, to hip-hop, to helping in the slums of India. Do you feel God had a role in these changes?
God did have a role. There is a higher power that leads us. There are and there were and there will be many things that we have control over and then many things that we don’t … because they’re not up to us. They’re up to God. I can’t give myself credit for the awakening. It’s God who enabled me to receive those blessings and then decide what to do with them. There are so many blessings, and the best way to use them is to pay them forward.

Can you share with our readers how you’re paying it forward?
One way is with the grass roots work I do with the kids at the ashram. The other is with Empty Hands music. Empty Hands music acts as a service to communities. Around the world, there are people looking to spread kindness, love, and oneness. They can go on my website and request a concert or speaking engagement for their community, school, church. I don’t charge for any of these events or performances that I offer. I want be of service to them—to support what they’re already doing, to share, to bring the community together, and to amplify this message of love and service. The last four or five years, I’ve done about 400 or so different events, which have all been very powerful. I didn’t realize I could do this as a musician.

When I was singing hip-hop with my group, we sought out places to entertain and strived to become more popular. We created songs to build our image as well as share messages we felt were important to us. But there was a definite appetite for successful sales. What I’m doing now is to go wherever the river flows, to serve how I can with whatever I have—not to become famous, but just to help share and practice the messages in the songs. I actually don’t market or promote the music or songs in any other way, except for offering them as a gift.

It’s amazing that your music is free for the world. How are you able to do this?
Everything I create is a gift. It felt weird charging for a message of gratitude, or being kind, or loving. There are practical challenges of how to financially stay afloat with a simple lifestyle if you give everything away as a gift for free. But one of the most important things I’ve learned is that when we do something from a pure space in selfless service to others, the world conspires to help you. I’ve seen support come in various ways, which has allowed me to continue to serve. I continue to believe in this. Keep serving. Everything else will take care of itself. It’s been a beautiful journey. I am not in control of anything, and I don’t want to be. I want to serve. As people started responding to my music, then I knew I could serve in this way, too. I don’t have to be a “performer.” I can just share my music. So that’s how it started.

Can you tell us more about the grassroots work you are doing with the children?
Seven months of the year, I’m doing grassroots work in the slums of our city through a beautiful sister NGO of Empty Hands, called Manav Sadhna. We work with 8,000 children in six different slum areas, and offer holistic education and development to these beautiful young souls. I am focused on offering of a platform for the arts with our kids. Right now, I’m directing a musical stage show with 17 kids called, “Glory to the Planet—Jai Jagat.” Creating this show and seeing the manifestation of it is also planting seeds with other people. We did a show in 2012 and took 16 kids on tour around the world. If God wants, we may do a tour with this one, too. Working with these children gives them a chance to rethink and visualize their own dreams and possibilities, not weighted down by their parents’ life situations, which are pretty much rooted in manual labor work.

What about these parents?
All the parents in these slum communities are doing tough jobs. Women are designated to stay home, so they don’t have a life to help them feel self-worth. So while we work with many more children, women are also a part of our service work—helping to empower our mothers.

One of our Empty Hands' songs and music videos, “Ode to Women,” focuses on three women’s stories. One of them is a trash picker, Mooli Ba, whom we closely work with. She picks up trash to recycle and may just make a dollar a day for all her difficult and timely work. But she never complains and is always smiling and positive. She is a great example of a shining beam of light on our planet.

And in that song, you repeat the phrase, “I appreciate you,” which is so valuable—that concept of appreciation. What impact do you see on the kids?
The impact of Manav Sadhna’s service work in our communities is beautiful. I see them shifting towards being more open-minded and open-hearted than they were, more than their parents. They’re more willing to strive and work hard. Many of those in our last musical are going to college. One is a teacher with us in our NGO. Others are starting computer work. It’s beautiful to see them mentor kids and give back as well.

Take for example, the recent flood in southern India, declared a state of emergency with 400 million people displaced. When we explained what had happened to the children, we told them that if they wanted to help us, they could be a part of it. We gathered thousands of rupees, clothing, and more. The poorest of the poor, those who are already in that category, are offering what they can to help the victims of this natural disaster so very far away from them. It is just amazing—so beautiful, so powerful, to see the spirit and power within them. Everyone is putting in their small part to help out. The children teach us that we’re always in a place to serve and help, no matter our situation.

Next time, Nimo talks about some of his songs and ways to reflect and share the light of God.