Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gifts from Sweden

This year Christmas was a little late at Karunya Mane (January), but it was quite special, as the kids got to celebrate with special presents sent by schoolkids from the Sodra Angby Skola in Sweden.

Sumitra got a doll and a photo of her new friend in Sweden

Parveen and Vishnu


Mr. Joseph coordinated the gifts with Sweden and with the yoga
community, as he does every year for several orphanages in the area


Elena and Henrick introduced the idea of sharing Christmas with India to the school:

"We've had a really fun time with the kids and their teacher on this project. Henrik started by giving the class a slideshow of India and discussing different aspects of the culture. A week later Henrik and I went together to the class to answer more questions about India and for me to help them translate their letter text into English, working with the kids through the English and allowing them to tell me how things are said in English. We then helped them to create their cards. Finally, today, we went and collected the gifts they chose and wrapped with their parents help (we asked them to give things that are meaningful to them). After dealing with the gifts, I led the class in a playful yoga session and we discussed a bit about the history and benefits of yoga. Some of the kids have already found and checked out Operation Shanti's website and we encouraged their teacher to let those kids who have visited your website to tell the other kids about it so they can find their way to it to learn more about the kids over there."

What to bring from afar?

We are often asked by Westerners coming to visit Mysore what they could bring to our kids. Here's a list of practical and useful items that we can definitely use:

     * girl's underwear (the boys wear slightly different styles from those in the US)
     * rubber slippers, all sizes (our kids go through these like they're made of paper!)
     * pencils and pens
     * composition style notebooks
     * bath soap bars
     * laundry soap
     * big bottles of shampoo
     * small tubes of toothpaste
     * skin moisturizer

For more on what we could use, please see our website page here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A new girl, Suma

Last week, we took in a new girl named Suma. She was left on the street by her family, and nobody knows where they went or how to find them. Suma says that she is the oldest of four girls, and that her parents are laborers who wander around India looking for work.

Suma is about 11 or 12 years old, and has a quiet, pleasant personality. She is getting along nicely with the other kids at Karunya Mane and participates in their activities like arts and crafts and karate. Since Suma has never attended school, we started her with daily tutoring sessions with one of our teachers, and she's learning how to read and write.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A really really nice gift

Today, out of the blue, Manikanta gave us the sweetest gift.

Manikanta, age 9 and finishing up first grade, has lived off and on the streets for years. He used to run away from his mom when she beat him and burned his eyes and skin with pepper fumes for not bringing any money home. He'd stay with his friends on the street.

Manikanta was also developing the nasty and highly addictive habit of sniffing glue.

This year, Manikanta came to Karunya Mane because he wanted to be with his friends. He struggled for a long time in his new environment, running away once and often talking about leaving school and Karunya Mane to go back to the street.

This past weekend, for the first time ever, he told us, "I am happy here. I do not want to go back to the street, I am very happy here and want to stay."

What better gift for the New Year? Let's hope he continues on his path to a new life...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It breaks our heart

After behaving quite well for several months (see our older post here) and making an effort (so it seemed) at reconciling with his wife, one of our street dads got drunk this past week, and then he beat her for no good reason.

Again, Kamini ran away from him and went to stay with friends for a few days. Her friends on the street, our street moms, knew where she ran to, but acted as if they didn't know to help hide her from husband.

When she ran away, she left her kids with Dad. One of the boys is now at Karunya Mane with us. At least Dad has the sense to let us take care of him, as he knows he can't do it properly. Dad, who spends his days working on the street selling vegetables or as a day laborer at the market, took the other little boy to stay with relatives.

After a few days, Kamini made her way to Karunya Mane. Her situation breaks our heart because she has come such a long way, from being a reckless woman living on the streets and contracting HIV to becoming one of the most caring, intelligent, and practical mothers who takes excellent care of her two little children. If not for her abusive husband... life could be so different for Kamini---and maybe it still can be.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A trip to Infosys

In late December, our kids were invited to the very fabulous Infosys campus in Mysore. If you're unfamiliar with Infosys, they are a global leader in the "next generation" of IT and consulting with revenues of over US$4 billion. Hugely successful in the business world, Infosys also places great emphasis on giving back to their community.

Manikanta and Lokesh, just slightly excited while on the Infosys Bus

The kids spent the day at the campus, enjoying a dance workshop and games, then a nice lunch and some outside playtime. The photos say it all:

getting ready to leave (that's Silvia in the back left, our volunteer from Germany who took these great photographs; our older kids were on a three-day field trip with their school to interesting places in South Karnataka)

...a far cry from the street...

entering the campus

Imran with his new friend

Netra and Sumitra practicing their balancing skills


a yummy lunch

some outside time

...saying goodbye...

Thank you to the Infosys SOften team for all that you do for the underprivileged in your country. Your work and your dedication truly set the example for others to follow.

Another two for Project Food and More

We recently added two more families to Project Food and More, bringing the kid count to 26 in our relatively new program that is being quite well received.

The first family lives in the Mysore area. Mom has two girls (one positive, the other negative) and cleans pots and pans to earn her income. Sadly, dad passed away a few years ago, and mom's family has completely shunned them because of her positive status, so they are alone.

The second family lives far from Mysore, but they come to the Asha Kirana clinic each month for their checkup. Mom lost her husband a few years ago to HIV, and she works in a photo lab while her son, age 7, attends school. They rent a house for 500 rupees a month ($12), and mom earns a monthly salary of 2000 rupees (about $45).

If you'd like to help these kids, or kids like them, please read more here. For just $25 per month, you can provide healthy and nutritious food and hygienic items to these destitute kids and their caretakers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Goodbye to Tata

On January 3 at about 11:00 am, Venkatesh Hegde ("Tata") passed away. He was about 70 years old. Tata had the most beautiful, peaceful eyes.

For more on Tata, please see our website here.