Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 2012 is here

...and the kids' good friend Adeline from Singapore is back, helping to decorate KM with fabulous Christmas painting and decorations! in progress... 

Stay tuned for the final Christmas scene at KM, as decorations are underway.

On another fun note, two of our kids participated in the recent Deepa School dress-up competition. Thanmaye, in 2nd grade, dressed up as a "mom" in her Indian sari --
Devaraj, 4th grade, dressed up as a poor old man who told his classmates about the importance of a good education (check out the posture!).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

KM Boy and Girl of the Month - September, October, and November 2012

The boys and girls of the month at KM for September, October, and November are:

September - Shanti and Prajwal
October - Arabia and Razak
November - Arabia (two-time winner!) and Venkatesh

As their prize, Shanti, Prajwal, and Razak got to go to Anath's wedding in early November. Ananth is a good friend of our kids and arranges for them to go to summer camps every summer vacation. The three kids enjoyed their outing in Mysore, saw a fabulously glamorous wedding ceremony, and had a really yummy lunch! Arabia was unable to attend because she had a prior engagement working with the other 4th graders on an conversational English learning project with some friends from Chicago.

Razak, Prajwal, and Shanti (right) and Kruthi and Anath (bride and groom)

Little Venkatesh at the front of the line
Little Venkatesh has been with us now for almost a year, and he's attending St. Francis school in pre-KG. He grew up on the street with his grandma and we took him in at KM when he turned three years of age. He's very well behaved and quite healthy and strong, and loves to write on his little slate with chalk. Here he is waiting in line (first little boy in his blue uniform) to be taken to school in the morning.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Photo History...

Our photostream on Flickr -- from the beginning of our programs on the streets of Mysore to today.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

(cute) Brats? Meditating?

Nine boys at KM are from ages 4 to 7 and, yes, they are sometimes more than a handful.

Other times, they are calm and serene, and enjoy a moment of quiet meditation ... and yawning.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Annual Report 2011-2012

If you are interested in reviewing our most recent annual report, please feel free to download your copy at:

Annual Report 2011-2012

Jeevan and Venkatesh
Thank you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Operation Shanti October 2012 e-Newsletter

Our October 2012 e-Newsletter is now available, featuring our older former street kids, the kids' educational accomplishments under the guidance of our excellent teachers, and the little ones at Karunya Mane.

The newsletter is available for download on our website at:

Operation Shanti October 2012 e-Newsletter

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our own little Gandhi-ji Jr.

This year, October 2 was the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation. The kids had the day off from school, and government offices were closed.

Our boys at KM decided to celebrate by introducing our own little Gandhi-ji... !

Little Manu as  Gandhi-ji Jr. (check out the watch around his waist!)
Not a bad imitation? The woman in the yellow sari is the boys' house mother, Mehar Banu, who thinks up fun activities like this for the kids.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

KM Boy and Girl of the Month - August 2012

The kids of the month for August were Shilpa and Surya. Both are excelling in school, yet come from difficult backgrounds.

Shilpa, age 8, came to Karunya Mane a year ago (April 2011), along with her little brother Jeevan. She lived with her mom and dad in a slum area of Mysore in a one-room grass shack that they built, with a door that barely closed. Shilpa never attended school because she stayed home to watch little Jeevan when mom went to work. Mom gathered discarded paper and cardboard and sold it by weight.

When Shilpa came to KM, she could not read or write. One of our tutors helped her for a month with the basics and we then enrolled her in school, 1st grade, in May 2011. Since then, she's only gotten A+s in all of her classes and her teachers say that her behavior is impeccable.
Surya, age 9,  has been with us at KM for a few years, and is our star in school. We met him in 2005 on the streets of Mysore, where he played while mom sat and begged on the sidewalk. Surya has always been a very well behaved boy, and this most recent quarterly test, he was ranked #1 in his 3rd grade class.

Surya's English is now so good (!) that he sometimes translates between English and Kannada for some of our non-Kannada speaking friends who come to visit the kids. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Kids love to draw. Ours do also, and some of our kids are getting pretty good at it. 

by Sharath R., 6th grade

by Vinod R., 6th grade

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shanti Store, now open at Karunya Mane

The Shanti Store is now open at Karunya Mane! Actually, it's been open for a few months now, and gives the kids a chance to "buy" goodies and snacks that all kids like to get their grubby little hands on.
Getting ready to shop! Sadiq and Pavan are on duty today, and the boys are waiting nicely in line
(what? a line in India?) for their turn at the store counter.

This is little Jeevan, he's three years old (and really cute) and
attends a nice pre-KG Montessori school nearby.
Each child gets an allowance every month based on age (the oldest kids get 40 rupees, the youngest kids get 20 rupees). Bonus money (5 rupees) is given to kids whose behavior is exceptional during any given month. Disciplining occurs for kids who fail to do their homework (oh no!) -- a deduction of 5 rupees from one's allowance has occurred on certain occasions when one misbehaves.

Today, he decided to buy a candy bar. (The money is "KM Money," created by the kids themselves.)
Two of the older kids are on duty each weekend (Saturdays for the girls, Sundays for the boys) to sell items and record each transaction, including who spent how much on what.

Sadiq serves banana chips to Raju. Pavan records every transaction.
The Shanti Store offers the typical Indian sweet and savory snacks -- banana chips, chukkuli, cho-cho, chili-flavored corn flakes -- as well as, of course, various types of candies, chocolates, and other yummies.

Interesting patterns have emerged. The boys save their money each month in case special items are sold at the store -- last month, two of the boys were able to purchase watches with the money they saved! The girls do NOT save, spend their entire allowances each month, as they say, "oh I'll get more money next month, I'll just buy another piece of chocolate now." What's up with that?

So far, the store is a huge success and the kids absolutely love shopping! They eagerly wait until 5:00 pm, when the store opens, and are learning the value of money, consequences of one's actions, and tracking money and purchases.

If you're in Mysore and want to donate to our store inventory, we take any kind of kid-appropriate snack and goodie found in Mysore bakeries or provision stores, including inexpensive wallets, watches, bangles, necklaces, henna, bindis, fingernail polish... nothing too expensive -- we use actual market prices on our items!

Monday, September 10, 2012

God didn't rest on the 7th day (neither did Baxter)

Kendra and Baxter, two friends of our kids at Karunya Mane, started the project in San Francisco, raising money for a playground for KM. They tapped into their friends and family and their community at StarSeeds Preschool, which Kendra founded (because she loves kids).

Then, they looked around on the Web and found a great playground equipment vendor in Bangalore, and spent a few early mornings and late nights calling from San Francisco to coordinate the order. 

In early August, they flew halfway around the world, first arriving in Bangalore, where they stayed for a few days to check out the playground equipment factory, and then they drove over to Mysore.

On the day deemed "Day 1" by project manager-chief logistics coordinator Baxter, the equipment actually did arrive on schedule (no Indian time allowed at KM! ahem). 
Day 1 - The equipment arrived, and on schedule! That's Baxter in the light blue t-shirt, ordering everyone around to get things done quickly! (of course, he's speaking in English to the Indian workers, so we're not exactly sure what or how much they understood of his directions, but his style was impactful!)
Day 3 - Girls' playground.
The prior weekend, under Kendra's watchful eye, the kids painted the bricks that surround the playgrounds with their names, a very thoughtful idea of Kendra (she must be an educator?!?) to give the kids a sense that they contributed to putting the playground together.

Day 5 - Boys' playground. Getting there...
And finally, on Day 7, laying the grass was completed, the bricks were all in place, and all was completed -- on time, within budget, and with soooooo much excitement!

Day 7 - Boys' playground.
Seriously, doesn't it just look fabulous? I mean, what kid has a playground in his/her own front yard?!!

Day 7 - Girls' playground (and Sumitra hanging her clothes).
We aren't sure how such a wonderful gift came our way. Our kids are very fortunate to have friends like Kendra and Baxter. If you've ever met our kids, then you know that there is something special about them. Maybe it's that they come from such difficult backgrounds and social-economic hardships but continually prove to us that they can thrive and flourish when given the chance -- excelling in school, improving and refining their behavior to the point where, wow, we don't even recognize them sometimes ;-) and just, well, enjoying their childhood years. They attract such fabulous friends from around the world who remember them even after several years -- Kendra first met them several years ago on her trip to Mysore (!) -- these kids are really something else, as are their friends.

Come on over and check out the playgrounds!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Clean those ears!

A couple of weeks ago, the wonderful people from audiologyindia ( and AIISH (All India Speech and Hearing) came to KM to give all of the kids ear checkups.

Jyothi: Oh my god, THAT was in my ear? 
The ear doctor checking Lalitha's ears.
The checkups included a hearing test, an exam by an ear-nose-throat physician, and a speech test.

Vinuta being check out by the speech therapist
Thanks so much to Jayaprakash at audiologyindia and our dear friend Manjunath for doing such a nice job organizing everything.

The kids' friend Manjunath, who helps them with many health-related arrangements.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

KM Boy and Girl of the Month - July 2012

This past month (July), the girls selected Joythi, age 7, in 1st grade, and the boys selected Umesh, age 5, upper kindergarten, as the best kids of the month at KM. They both got a nice prize!

Jyothi and Umesh are both from the street, and lived there from birth to about three years of age.

Now, they are nice and healthy, and well-behaved, at KM:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Updates on the playground project (wow, it's happening!!!)

After a few months of fundraising and planning, the playground project has landed in Mysore! See the following for the updates on our friends Kendra and Baxter from Star Seeds Preschool, who are heading up the effort.

Friday, July 20, 2012

KM Boy and Girl of the Month - June 2012

We recently started a "Best Boy of the Month" and "Best Girl of the Month" incentive at KM. The winners are chosen by their peers, and represent the kids who demonstrated extremely good behavior during that month, including doing their homework, treating others nicely, doing their chores on time, and exhibiting all-around good behavior.

This month (June), the girls selected Thanmaye, age 7, in 1st grade, and the boys selected Sadiq, age 10, 3rd grade. The "best" kids of the month each get a special prize.

Sadiq, 4th grade
Thanmaye, 1st grade

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Friends from Daisy Troop 2494 in Sparks, Maryland!

A friend of ours who is in charge of her daughter's Daisy troop (youngest level of Girl Scouts) in Sparks, Maryland, had the idea to share India with her girls during the month of February. February is the month that Girl Scouts dedicate to learning about and connecting with people from around the world.

On that day, she had her troop make cards and pictures for our kids. Her girls also enjoyed viewing pictures of our kids at Karunya Mane and learned about their daily routine. 

The girls in Troop 2494 also found India on the globe and couldn’t believe how many people live there. They saw pictures of Mysore and other parts of India, and found the Taj Mahal and the Mysore Palace very beautiful. They also got to eat naan and drank chai tea while doing their crafts and admired some fancy Indian outfits!

They sent their cards and pictures, along with a very generous parcel full of pencils and erasers, to our kids, who then decided to make cards in return. 

Here's a sampling of the cards and pictures shared... what a nice thing for our kids to connect with kids from halfway around the world! Thanks so much to Troop 2494 (and Shena) for sharing.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ice cream!

In May of each year, the kids at Karunya Mane go home for a two-day visit if they have a home to go to (that we know about). Some of the kids without any parents or family stay at KM during these two days, and naturally they feel a little sad.

This year, we took the kids who stayed at KM to a very nice and yummy ice cream store in Mysore. There were sooooo many flavors, some of them had no idea what to order, so Aunty Anu told them to just try the chocolate (always a winner). Some of the older kids tried the more adventurous flavors, and they all shared their flavors with one another. Yum!

little Jeevan
Kartik, Sharath, small Sreenivas (smiling), Devaraj, Razak
little Venkatesh

June 24 -- LA Rocks Fundraiser!

If you're in the LA area, Garth and friends are hosting another amazing fundraiser to help us build a new home for our kids.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beautiful 5th Grade Girls

Time sure flies. We're in the middle of our fourth year at Karunya Mane, and the kids are sure growing like weeds! School starts again in just a week so we're scrambling (as usual) to get everything ready -- uniforms, books, shoes, school bags, pencils, notebooks, pens...

The girls who will be in fifth grade this year decided to try on their new uniforms. Since they've now graduated from primary school where they wore the red-and-blue shirts, they now get to wear the blue-and-white uniform.

Don't they look sweet? And for those who knew them "way back when," they've grown, huh?

Shanti, Divya, Vijayalakshmi, Pooja, Prema