Recently, a friend of Kumari said this about her: "She helps everybody and anybody. When I ran away from home and came to the street, Kumari watched over me. She made me sleep with her children on the sidewalk so that the men wouldn't bother me."
"I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving, but do not give your leftovers. Give until it hurts, until you feel the pain. If we worry too much about ourselves, we won't have time for others." --Mother Teresa
We met Kumari in 2005 on the streets of Mysore, where she lived with her three kids. It took a year before she trusted us, but after that, she's become our most reliable and helpful street mother. She has helped us with the other mothers (keeping them in line, encouraging them to let us help their kids) and has referred other destitute kids to us. And, even though they were on the street for years, Kumari did the best she could with her kids.
|Rachamma, Kumari, Prema, Sumitra, friend, Venkatesh in 2005.|
|Giving Venkatesh a bath when they lived on the street, 2005.|
To earn money, Kumari strings up and sold jasmine leis (malas) during the flower season, which lasts for about five months out of the year. In the off season, she cleans garlic for her friend, a street vendor, or sells vegetables.
|Selling flowers, 2007.|
|Selling flowers, 2007.|
|Peeling garlic, 2007.|
|Kumari with her oldest son, Venkatesh, in 2007. They are very close.|
She lost an older son and her first husband a few years before we met her.
|Kumari at her house with her kids and neighborhood friends, 2007.|
Kumari has a bulla (large air sac) in her lung and in 2012 her pulmonologist recommended a portable oxygen concentrator, which she uses at night at home when she sleeps. In early 2013, after several trips to the emergency room, the doctor also recommended a nebulizer for her because she was having problems properly using her inhaler. These life-saving treatments are helping to keep her alive, as the doctor said, the bulla is "like a time bomb, waiting to go off."
|Kumari with her oxygen, 2010.|
In mid-2010, when her street friend Shanti died, Kumari called us to come to the street because we had to take her friend's four children, who had nowhere else to go. Of course we did, and Suma, Manjula, Renuka, and Manu are now happy, healthy, and thriving at Karunya Mane.
|Little Manu (2nd from bottom) with Mohan (bottom), |
Kumari's youngest child, and their friends at Karunya Mane in 2012.
Kumari understands her health condition and she is careful. She visits her kids once a month at Karunya Mane and calls them every Sunday. Her kids are doing well and are growing up nicely. Venkatesh is at home with mom, and he helps with the household chores because she cannot exert herself physically.
|Rachamma, Prema, Sumitra, Mohan, Kumari, 2012.|
If you'd like to help Kumari, her ongoing monthly expenses are as follows:
- medication $24 (Rs. 1200)
- rent $7 (Rs. 350)
- electricity bill from oxygen concentrator $10 (Rs. 500)
- monthly pocket money $16 (Rs. 800)