Anusha, a cute little four-year-old, arrived at Karunya Mane this past week. Her grannie brought her to us and asked us to take her in.
Anusha's mom died soon after Anusha was born, in early 2004, and her dad ran off and married another woman. Nobody has seen him since. Grannie Geeta has been taking care of Anusha since then, but it's difficult for her because she's alone. While she works during the day, she has to leave Anusha with neighbors or friends, which means that Anusha is often alone.
Anusha with her new friends, Umesh and Darshan
We visited Anusha's grannie's house, a rented room attached to a house in a slum area of Mysore. A good chunk of her income from cleaning two house helps pay her rent. Anusha will start school this coming June, along with our other kids.
the KM little ones: Jyothi, Siri, Darshan, Umesh, Anusha
In early January, ten of our older kids (Asha, Venkatesh, Lokesh, Amita, Sharath, Prema, Sreenevasa, Kaleem, Manikanta, Harish) passed their first karate test, and won the honor of wearing yellow belts!
Here's a brief shot of the kids coming back from their test.
Three more deserving kids have joined our Project Food and More Program, bringing the kid count to 29. Project Food and More provides care packages to destitute children who have lost one or both parents to HIV. They and their guardians are very poor, and are referred to us by a local HIV clinic in the area.
One of the kids, a seven-year-old boy, lives with his mom in Mysore. He lost his dad a few years ago and mom cleans houses for a living, earning about 1000 rupees (about $12) a month. Another girl, 12 years old, lost her mom and dad a few years ago, and lives with her grannie. The third girl, age eight, also lives with her grannie, as she recently lost both her mom and dad to HIV.
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.
From Kelly Thompson, an Operation Shanti volunteer:
While I was in Mysore in spring-summer 2008, I was lucky enough to hear about Operation Shanti and all the amazing work they do to help local people in need of care and support. When I made contact, it was agreed that the best way I could help would be to offer English lessons to a few of the children who needed an academic and/or morale boost for one reason or another.
I went on to tutor two adorable wee girls called Prema and Pooja two evenings a week at the centre. I can hardly begin to describe how much I got from teaching them. Both girls were smart, sweet and sensitive, and it was my pleasure to nurture these qualities in them. Despite me not being in Mysore for all that long, it was hugely rewarding to see their confidence and abilities improving, and it was a complete joy to see them having such fun learning. Prema needed a little more help and encouragement because of her hearing difficulties but both girls participated to the max, helped each other out any time they could and learned very quickly. They particularly loved the most interactive tasks – such as singing songs, playing games and doing actions to help them learn new words. I left every session feeling revitalized from their sense of enthusiasm for communicating and sharing. And I like to think that the sessions boosted their passion for learning as well as increased their knowledge of English.
It's hard for me, as a relatively privileged Westerner, to understand what so many of the kids, and other people, at the centre have been through in their lives. But I feel truly privileged to have been able to help even just a couple of them in some small way, and I've learned a lot from them – through their commitment to hard work, their heartfelt warmth and their pure joy for life.
I found the whole experience enriching and inspiring, and I hope to come back to Mysore to help in any further way I can at the first opportunity I get…
Two new friends from the UK came to visit everyone at Karunya Mane. One of the women works with the elderly in the UK, and spent some time with Jayamma.
Jayamma used to live on the streets of Mysore for years, maybe 25 years or more. She's been with us at Karunya Mane for almost a year. She suffers from a weak heart, and doesn't really talk anymore but the staff and other women at KM help to feed and clean her every day. Jayamma also has her own way of communicating, and loves when people touch her or hold her hands.
We certainly lucked out when it comes to teeth care for our kids. A fabulous dentist just a few minutes from Karunya Mane has proven to be quite charitable and kind. Thank goodness, because ALL of our kids require some kind of work on their teeth, either fillings or extractions, or other nasty procedures that we all so love while at the dentist.
Dr. Mahesh also gives us monthly supplies of toothpaste for our kids, as well as toothbrushes. He's at the Mahesh Dental Clinic on Gaddige Main Road in Bogadi, Mysore.