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The donor: Monish Kumar Sarker

The gift: $36,000

The cause: Bharat Sevashram Sangha Canada

The reason: To build a new ashram in Toronto

When Monish Kumar Sarker was growing up in Calcutta in the 1950s, monks from the Bharat Sevashram Sangha would visit his parents regularly.

“Our parents were devotees and they said if we can do anything for these monks, try to do it,” Mr. Sarker, 83, said from his home in Toronto.

The Bharat Sevashram Sangha was founded in Calcutta in 1917 as a spiritual brotherhood of monks dedicated to serving humanity. Today, its global network of monks provides a range of social-welfare services, disaster-relief support as well as educational and health-care programs.

Mr. Sarker left India in 1961 for West Germany, where he trained to become a chemist. He headed to Toronto two years later and arrived with just $30 in his pocket. Thanks to his chemistry training, he went on to a successful career in the painting and office products industry, before retiring in 2002. A couple of years ago, Mr. Sarker discovered that the Canadian branch of Bharat Sevashram Sangha wanted to build a new ashram in Toronto. He approached Swami Pushkaranandaji Maharaj about making a donation in honour of his parents. That led to a $36,000 gift. The new centre opened in June and it has already become a focal point for various events and Sunday services.

The donation fulfills his commitment to his father, Mr. Sarker says. And he credits Canada for making it happen. “The only way I did it was by working here in Canada and by earning the money here. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t come to Canada.”