with Pallavi, Apu, and Latta in our Street People Program in 2006
Kim started out volunteering with our street kids and moms, and she was involved with just about everything that we do -- from teaching our little kids their ABCs...
...to making monthly visits to the kids that we had placed in a residential school...
...and to teaching yoga to our kids on Sundays.
Kim says, "There were many beautiful, heart-warming (and sometimes hilarious!) moments while I worked with Operation Shanti; however, to have witnessed how far the kids and moms have come over the past few years is the best overall experience. It's wonderful to see many of our kids now off the streets and living in Karunya Mane, a safe shelter where they're healthy, happy, thriving and getting a good education. And some of the moms have worked so hard and empowered themselves to turn their lives around by leaving dangerous and abusive domestic situations, for example. Now they're leading more peaceful and productive lives, taking excellent care of themselves and their children, and giving themselves the chance of a better future."
On the difficult times as a volunteer: "Definitely the most difficult part of volunteering for Operation Shanti was working with the terminally ill in our program--sadly watching them suffer while their lives slipped away, and then eventually saying goodbye. It was also challenging, and oftentimes maddening, to work within a system and a society that for the most part turns its back on the destitute--especially destitute women. To watch how inhumanely the poor can be treated here is just as sad and tragic as watching them die."
Recently, Kim paid a visit to the kids who are now at Karunya Mane to say goodbye before she leaves Mysore. Many of them remembered her fondly. When Prema saw Kim, she ran to her brother Venkatesh and said, "Kim madam! Kim madam!"
with little Vishnu
Even little Vishnu remembered Kim. She took him to the dentist after she noticed that his two front teeth had started rotting (mom was feeding him milk at night to help him sleep but often forgot to brush his teeth afterwards), and they spent quality time together during their several visits to the dentist.
And, what does Kim take with her to her next adventure from Operation Shanti and India? "All of the following but now to a greater degree: patience, tolerance, unconditional love, compassion, empathy, an open heart, and the joy in life's simple things."