Kaveriamma, a 50-year-old woman we've known for three years, lived on the streets for over 25 years. She moved into Karunya Mane when we opened in February. She has a sister but won't go to her house, thinking she'd bring shame to her family because she lived as a street woman. In early May while at Karunya Mane, Kaveriamma received a letter from her sister in her native place (Kumta, about a day's bus ride from Mysore) that their mother had passed away four months ago. Kaveriamma was very sad and cried as she told us the news. It had been years since she last saw her mother, as she could never afford the bus fare to take trips to see her family back home.
This month, Kaveriamma took the trip with her son to Kumta to visit her remaining relatives and put closure on her mom's passing. She brought back photos of her late father and her sister as keepsakes.
Her fondest memory of her childhood is when her dad would carry her on his shoulders when they went to the fair.
Kaveriamma was married off at the age of twelve. Her husband brought her to Mysore, where she worked cleaning houses. She had her first child at the age of thirteen, then when she was seventeen, her husband left her and her three children. She was not from Mysore and knew nobody locally. Eventually, she could not earn enough to pay the rent, and ended up living on the street, trying to make ends meet selling vegetables or begging. She lived a very hard life on the street, and suffered a stroke four years ago that left her left side partially paralyzed. Late last year, we helped her get an operation that she needed at a nearby hospital.
Living on the street, Kaveriamma endured things that we can't even imagine could happen to another human being, let alone a woman. Through it all, she has maintained her dignity and continues to be a good friend to Operation Shanti.