Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2011 arrow February arrow Chess Without Borders Help Build Future for Meher
Chess Without Borders Help Build Future for Meher Print E-mail
By Rishi Sethi   
February 28, 2011

On February 19th, 2011, Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois hosted a screening for the documentary, “A Future for Meher." In 2009 Good Shepherd Hospital presented Chess Without Borders with an Unsung Hero Award for the humanitarian work accomplished by chess families and the community in helping to raise money for surgeries (over $18,000) for a young burn victim, Meher.

Watch the following excerpt--the section on chess featuring Chess Without Borders students and GM Yury Shulman begins at 3:34.

A Future For Meher from Gorilla Face on Vimeo.

Brian-at-Screening.jpgZein Bertacchi from Good Shepherd Hospital introduced documentarian Brian Gruber, who traveled to India in 2009.  He filmed the chess club in India sponsored by Chess Without Borders and Meher, the subject of the documentary. She is a little girl who was severely burned by a fire in her home. As a result she was disfigured and unable to use her hands.

Chess Without Borders was introduced to Meher through Nina Sethi, who was volunteering as a teacher at the organization called Project Why that provides services for families in the slums of Delhi. Nina approached GM Shulman for help with fund-raising for medical services for Meher.

The network of people involved in raising funds grew to involve a school in Berlin, Germany and friends in India. Two years later more than $18,000 has been raised and Meher has had several surgeries on her face and hands. Chess students have even donated their clothes for children from Project Why and enjoy seeing their clothes being modeled by children in India in the documentary.

The Plastic Surgeon who operated on Meher, Dr. Rakesh Khazanchi, also donated his services after being inspired by the story of the chess players turned medical service providers.

Sujit Johnston, another chess player and a junior in high school in Barrington, IL, organized the technical arrangements for the first screening conducted by a chess program. Sixty-seven people attended the screening that chronicled the work accomplished through efforts of a chess program. After the discussion following the documentary GM Shulman graciously played a simultaneous tournament against 15 players.
Inspired by the humanitarian services, professional guitarists Ron Swanson and Mario Licciardi provided music for the evening. Chess players Sujit Johnston, Eleanore Van Marvik Kooy, Daniel Chia, Alex Menicoff, Trevor, Joseph Schmidt, Prathik R. Kandimalla, Scott and Chris Majkowski, were hosts for the evening. Matt Wilson, Joseph and Matthew Jazwinski doubled as musicians as well as hosts.

The educational and leadership opportunities made possible through imagining what a chess program can do began with a simple act of service, but has provided so many lessons in social entrepreneurship for students and had a far-reaching impact engaging a global community.

For more information visit www.secureafuture.blogspot.com.

Rishi Sethi
USCF Member and Co-Founder of Chess Without Borders