If you had to choose between accepting a multimillion-dollar inheritance, or using that money to build a school in India for children who are trapped in poverty, what would you do?
When Ajit George was 22 years old, this was the choice given to him by his father, Abraham George. Ajit George decided to forgo the money.
“I pushed them to share and to reinvest that money into the community and into society to people who really needed it,” Ajit said of his parents.
Both of Ajit's parents are from India. His father built a successful career in finance, and hoped one day to give back in some way to his home country.
Ajit was born in New York City and had a very privileged upbringing in New Jersey. However, trips to India to visit relatives played a role in shaping his view of the world, exposing him to things he’d never see in the suburbs of New Jersey.
It was on one of these trips when Ajit saw a level of human suffering that deeply troubled him. He was at a train station in Calcutta. He saw homeless men and women, some of whom were ill and half-starved, living in and around the station.
“You could see manifest, the despair in their eyes,” Ajit recalled. “And the crushing knowledge this was all they had. I felt a fundamental wrongness with the world. A fundamental wrongness that we as a people have structured society to allow this to happen, especially with the knowledge that it didn't have to be this way.”
Today, Ajit lives in Factoria, Washington, and spends about four months a year helping his father run the boarding school for impoverished children in Southeast India that the family started in 1997. It's called Shanti Bhavan.
In this story, we learn how this school is trying to free destitute families from generations of poverty. We’ll also hear why Ajit says that passing on wealth to heirs, who did nothing to earn it, is toxic.