Thanks a million for the beds,Mr Dryden; may you rest in peace

Thirty-nine years ago,Murray Dryden of Canada donated 50 bed kits to orphans at St Crispin’s Home in Pune,having spent much of his own childhood sleeping on a cold floor.

Written by Sunanda Mehta | Pune | Published:February 10, 2009 12:12 am

4 decades after he pledged a million beds to needy children worldwide,Canadian’s family on the way to complete milestone in city

Thirty-nine years ago,Murray Dryden of Canada donated 50 bed kits to orphans at St Crispin’s Home in Pune,having spent much of his own childhood sleeping on a cold floor. Such was the reaction to his gesture that he continued the work and,along the way,promised himself that one day he would reach out to a million such needy children around the world.

Dryden died in 2004 before he could reach the milestone. His family carried on his work worldwide and will reach it – in and around Pune,where it all started. Thirteen members of the Dryden clan will visit Pune next week and complete his dream by donating 3,000 bed kits,including the millionth.

“Because it was in Pune that my dad Murray Dryden distributed the first 50 kits in 1970,we decided as a family to return here the year when the millionth bed kit would be donated,” says Dave Dryden,who will arrive in Pune on February 19 with his wife,daughter,son-in-law,three siblings,four grandchildren,a stepbrother,his wife and their son,all part of the charity Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW) Murray Dryden had founded in 1970.

“We are not trying to rig it so that the actual millionth bed kit is donated in Pune. We will have 15 distributions this year,totalling 69,000 bed kits,and are calling each of them the millionth. That way,we can celebrate the achievement of this goal in all the countries we go to,” Dave Dryden said.

The kits include school uniforms,school bags,books and towels to encourage the children to go to school. No part of the donation is spent on administration; every cent of the Canadian $35 cost goes towards compiling the kit that varies from country to country depending upon local needs. Volunteers then carry them to destitute regions,travelling at their own expense.

The SCAW worked independently till 1995,when the Rotary Club of Pune Cantonment pitched in with help. “Since then the SCAW must have distributed some 10,000 kits in and around Pune,” says Dr Nitin Shah,member of the Rotary Club who has accompanied volunteers to many of far-flung rural areas.

Both Dave and Shah concede there is no way of really knowing if the kit actually benefits the targeted child. But,as Shah says,“Even if the child has to share the bedding with others in the family,it’s still a precious deed done.”

“Over the years,all children here have been grateful recipients of bed kits,” said Tichnor Charles,secretary of St Crispin’s Home,who is hoping for a visit though the team’s primary target will be villages.

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