Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A reunion

After staying at Karunya Mane for a year and having been in our Street People Program for several years, she transferred to a residential school in Bannur to continue her studies. Recently, Asha returned to our area during a school break and spent some time with her friends, a few of our girls at KM -- Pooja, Shanthi, and Prema.

They met up at Priya's house. Priya was Asha's tuition teacher at KM, and is now teaching Prema, Pooja, and Shanthi. So they all know each other well and had a nice time hanging out and catching up.

Priya, shown here, continued to counsel the girls and impart good advice to them.

Photos courtesy Janea Wiedmann.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blue belts

After 2 1/2 years, most of our older kids who have been taking karate lessons during this time have now earned their blue belts. A couple have their green belts, and two little ones (Surya and Sadif) just earned their yellow belts.

Before their blue belt test, the older kids practiced a bit and we were quite impressed with the progress they've made.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sweaters from Bangalore

We want to thank Saraswati, Anu, and Manjula for knitting 25+ really warm and wooly sweaters for our kids! For those of you who knit, sweater knitting takes time... and our kids appreciate the time they spend knitting sweaters for our kids.

Here are a few of our girls (Divya, Netra, and Suma) modeling the sweaters!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prayer time

Every morning at 7:00 a.m. and evening at 7:00 p.m., before breakfast and dinner, the kids sit together for prayer time. One of the older kids leads the rest of them in the prayer.

Little Darshan enjoys praying, and he has memorized most of the seven-minute long prayer that the kids recite each day!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New kids for 2010/2011

Karunya Mane now houses 53 kids -- 28 boys and 25 girls. We've got several new kids this year, all from very poor backgrounds and most with just one parent (a single mother) or no parents. Some of the kids came to us from another organization that works with HIV+ women, and their mothers are single and are unable to properly for their kids by themselves. In most such situations, the fathers either abandoned the family or died.

The new kids have all gained weight, are all well-integrated into life at Karunya Mane, and attend Deepa Primary School along with our "old timers."

Three of our new kids, Pavankumar, Shivuprasad, and Kavyashree, came to us from nearby villages and have no fathers. Although Pavankumar and Kavyashree were in the 5th and 6th grades in school, they could not even write the alphabet. Now, they can not only write, they are also reading and enjoying the company of our other kids.

Akshith's mom and dad were day laborers on the coffee estate of one of our volunteers. Mom and dad battle significant health issues and were no longer able to properly care for Akshith. Akshith, age six, is a sweet, very well behaved little boy who now has many friends to play with at Karunya Mane.

Raju is a very cute, polite little boy whose mother begs on the streets of Mysore for a living. She earns about 30 rupees a day. Raju now lives with us at Karunya Mane, and is in lower kindergarten this year. He does his schoolwork every day and is a very happy, cheerful kid.

Manjula, Suma, Renuka, and Manu came to Karunya Mane after her mom, a street vendor, died from liver failure caused by her alcoholism. The three sisters had attended a government school in the city, where they were doing relatively well despite only four working teachers at the school for 1st to 7th grades. The kids have gained weight, are much healthier, and have settled in nicely at Karunya Mane. Manu, who had not yet attended school, now goes to lower kindergarten with our other little ones.

Kartik's father is a street vendor who sells various trinkets and toys. His mother passed away a few years ago from a bus accident, and dad often returned home late, leaving the boy alone after school. Kartik and dad lived in a small room off a cow shed in a village outside of Mysore. Although Kartik was in the 3rd grade, he was not performing at that level. Now, Kartik studies well and does his homework nightly.

Prakwal's mother was our cleaning lady at Karunya Mane. She stopped working when she got gravely ill and almost died this past year. Prajwal then came to stay with us at Karunya Mane as his father had run away years ago and his other relatives have refused to care for him. Prajwal is a very well behaved boy and is an excellent student. Mom, who is now in better health, visits him once a month on Sundays.

Arabia, Sadif, and Razak came to Karunya Mane after their father fell ill and suffered serious bouts of depression. Their mother died about four years ago and their father is no longer able to properly care for them. Arabia is a very well behaved girl, quiet, and very caring of others. Sadif and his younger brother Razak are also good kids and enjoy their new friends at Karunya Mane.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tie Dye Shirts

A couple of months ago while visiting their family in Mysore, Sumati and her son Kiran came to Karunya Mane to spend their Saturday and Sunday afternoons with the kids playing indoor and outdoor games.

Kiran outside with the little ones.


Before they left, their family passed out a tie-dye shirts to our kids, who had lots of fun trying them on and posing for the camera!

Akshith, Raju, Aravind, Surya, Aravind, Shivuprasad...

Gowtham, Adarsh, Vishnu, Umesh, Mohan, Darshan, with Kaleem helping

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


On India's Independence Day, the kids were visited by friends from the Bullets of Mysore club, a club consisting of men who own Enfield Bullet motorcycles. The 18 riders arrived at Karunya Mane in the morning and first served the kids a nice breakfast.

Checking out the bikes.

Enjoying breakfast before the flag-raising.

The kids then entertained their guests with singing and dancing, and some play acting, before going outside to check out the amazing bikes and to partake in raising the Indian flag. Thanks again to Ananth and his friends at the Bullets of Mysore club for a very fun Independence Day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The School Line(s)

The 2010/2011 school year is in full swing, and if you've wondered what it's like trying to get 54 kids out the door for school every morning, on time, dressed properly, and with their school bags, books, pencils and pens, lunch boxes, socks, shoes, ties, and belts... well, organized chaos might be a good description.

We send 54 kids out the door each school day: three little ones in pre-nursery school, 17 children in kindergarten, and 34 kids in first through seventh grades.

A few of the older girls: Divya, Arabia, Shanthi, Prema, and Pooja

The Lines (left for kindergarten, right for 1st to 7th)

Devaraj, Nanjunda and Sadif (first graders)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Project Food and More now supports women

Project Food and More, our effort to assist children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, now supports women with HIV who have been abandoned by their families. These women are often thrown out of their houses and/or after their husbands have died (from causes related to HIV), their in-laws with whom they lived refuse to help them and their children.

We currently have three such women in our program, and we endeavor to assist many more who are poor and struggle with the stigma of HIV/AIDS.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

the "skippers"

Our older kids (aged 12 to 16) are behind a couple of years in school because they either missed a few years when living on the streets, or went to substandard schools and their attendance was spotty.

After a couple of years at their current private school, four of our oldest boys skipped a grade this year. Last year they proved that they were ready to skip a grade, as their study habits have improved tremendously and they are getting excellent grades.

Sreenivas, Harish, Kaleem, and Venkatesh waiting to head to school

Kaleem, age 15, skipped sixth grade and is now in seventh. Venkatesh (14) and Sreenivas (16) skipped fifth grade and are now in sixth grade. And Harish (12), who skipped fourth grade, is now in fifth.

They had to study hard during their summer break with daily tutoring sessions and, although they sometimes complained about having to go to "class" every day during the summer, their hard work paid off. On their first tests this past month, they all scored no less than B+s, with most of their scores as either As or A+s.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kids of the Week -- Raju and big Pooja

We've started a new incentive program at KM, where we award the "best" kid -- one boy and one girl -- each week, for good behavior.

During the prior week, the winners must have demonstrated excellent behavior and/or great improvements in behavior, in areas such as doing their homework and chores consistently, not fighting with other children, helping out around KM without being asked, brushing their teeth each morning and evening, following our daily schedule, and washing their clothes correctly.

This week's winners are Raju and big Pooja. Raju, age 5, is a sweet, quiet boy who does his homework diligently and never fights with the other little kids. Big Pooja, age 11, has demonstrated great improvements in her behavior -- where in the past she used to cry all the time and avoid doing her chores, she has started to do them without being reminded and has exhibited more mature behavior.

The winners get daily snacks for school each week (cookies, candy, fruits, other goodies)!


big Pooja

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mysore Ladies' Circle

Earlier this year, the women from the Mysore Ladies' Circle came to Karunya Mane to meet our kids. The Ladies' Circle is made up of young professional women and housewives who do charitable work around the city of Mysore.

They enjoyed meeting our kids, and our kids enjoyed meeting them and the kids from their "Genius Club", who engage in charitable projects each year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Girls dancing!

The kids who attended the Natana Workshop this past summer learned a few songs; here are Pooja, Prema, Shanthi, and Divya sharing one of them with you:

Three big kids to Bannur...

This year, we transferred three of our oldest kids to a residential school in Bannur, a town about a 45-minute drive from Mysore. These three kids will be able to accelerate their educational progress there, as well as have the opportunity to make friends with more kids their own age.

The three who have gone to Bannur are Lokesh, Nanjunda, and Asha, below, saying goodbye to her cousin Gowtham.

Lokesh and Nanjunda (both in red shirts, sitting) waiting in the van.

We first stopped on the street so that Nanjunda could say a quick goodbye to his grandma (his closest relative, who lives and works on the street).

Grannie is quite happy that Nanjunda wanted to continue his education, and does not want to return to the street life.

So far, the three kids are doing well at Bannur, where they wake every morning at 4:30 for prayer and yoga practice, followed by a bath, studying and breakfast, and then school all day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In memory of Mr. Joseph

We were saddened to learn of Joseph's recent passing, and wanted to take this moment to thank him for all that he did for our street kids.

Each Christmas, Joseph gathered up a group of yoga students in Gokulam and encouraged everyone to donate presents to our kids -- and to kids at other orphanages in Mysore -- he must have had 200+ kids on his list every year who benefitted from his kind spirit. He'd then don his red scarf and come to distribute the presents to the kids, enjoying every minute of their delight.

The following pictures are from December 2007 at our Street Program. The girls below, Amitha and Prema, loved their dolls!

The kids gave Joseph a photo album as a Christmas present.

Joseph always remembered our kids, and sent many volunteers and very helpful people our way. Joseph, our kids thank you for your kind and generous support throughout the years, and may you rest in peace until your next fabulous journey. Mysore won't be the same without you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

little Gowtham

Here's little Gowtham these days, much healthier and happier than when he lived in the slum. He's still a bit tiny for his age, but eats well and plays hard. This year, he also starts studying, as he is now in lower kindergarten.

Gowtham with Sweeti

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Awards at school

This year, a few of our big kids and little kids won awards at school -- in categories like attendance, good behavior, cleanliness, sports performance, and citizenship...

Anand, Nanjunda, Vishnu, Pallavi, Sowmya, Tunmaya

After a full summer (April, May) of playing and some tutoring, the kids are all starting school again at the end of May.  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A summer with the Natana Raja Mata and Rangayana drama workshops

The Natana.org website describes Natana Raja Mata as a summer workshop that educates and entertains children, and caters to children in various dimensions, to benefit the child's wholesome personality development. Raja Mata covers a range of topics, from modern dance to rural games. 

Natana is run by Mandya Ramesh, a well-known comedian in India. He invites many of his movie and TV actor and actress friends to interact with the kids.

And, ten of our kids (Venkatesh, Pallavi, Latha, Sumitra, Prema, Pooja, Shanthi, Divya, Vijayalakshmi, and Manikanta) get to attend this great camp this summer, from April 11 to May 6!

Here's a peek at Natana:

So far, the kids have been engaged in acting, dancing, and arts and crafts. They are always eager to get there in the morning (around 9:30 am) and are very happy when picked up in the evening (4:30 pm).


Another five of our kids (Vinod, Sharath, Shwetha, Devaraj, and Netravati) are attending the Rangayana workshop, held by Rangayana, a theatre repertory, in Mysore. It is a workshop similar to that of Natana. 

The kids at Rangayana go swimming, dance, act, and engage in arts and crafts. Sometimes, they start at 7:00 am, so they can take walks around the nearby lake and learn about nature. 

Netra and Vinod in front of the crafts they decorated the day before.

Both workshops host about 250 to 300 children from all socio-economic backgrounds, so our kids will get to interact with kids from middle- and upper-class families. 

We're very grateful to Ananth and his supporters at the Narayan Foundation for securing fifteen free spots for our kids this summer at these really great workshops! Thanks.