Thursday, February 27, 2014

PFM and HIV -- An Update

India, with an estimated 2.4 million people living with HIV (as of January 1, 2012), is home to the world's third-largest population suffering from the condition (after South Africa and Nigeria). In India, when a parent contracts HIV, children are often forced to provide for the family by working or begging. When a parent dies, his or her children may be left with no one to care for them. 

Through Project Food & More, Operation Shanti provides support to  those affected by HIV in a couple of ways. PFM provides a monthly care package to destitute HIV+ children who have lost one or both parents and who are now living with a poor relative (usually a grandmother or aunt) who must feed another mouth. Today, the care package is valued at about $20, of which 56 HIV+ children benefit.

PFM also supports destitute women who have been abandoned by their families for being HIV+ with a monthly care package and assistance for medical expenses. This month, Saraswati (name has been changed to protect her privacy) was admitted to the HIV clinic, emaciated and nearly unconscious. Although medical care for HIV+ patients has improved significantly over the years, she was not given the second-line ART medication when she needed it last year after her CD4 count declined, and she subsequently fell very ill. Mom is now in the ICU ward at the clinic, literally fighting for her life. We are assisting her two children, aged 16 and 18, with the medical bills and some difficult-to-obtain ART medication. 

Saraswati's two teenage children have stopped attending school to care for mom -- one stays with mom at the hospital and the other works to earn some money for food and other basics. They have no other family available to help them. 

Your donation to Operation Shanti's PFM program will help us continue to assist women like Saraswati and children who continue to experience stigma and abandonment by their families. On this auspicious day in India, Maha Shivaratri, we hope and pray for Saraswati's recovery.
For more on PFM, please see

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First Ever Photography Class

In December 2013 and January 2014, the kids at Karunya Mane had the chance to learn some basic photography techniques from one of their friends who visited each Sunday for a couple of hours.

Here are a few of the pictures they took --

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pavankumar S.C.! Boy wonder!

Pavan came to Karunya Mane in June 2010. He lived with his mom in a poor village near Mandya. As a single parent with significant health issues, mom had difficulty raising her only child. Dad abandoned the family a long time ago.

Pavan in 2010
When Pavan came to KM, he had been attending 6th grade in a government school in his village. However, when we tested his reading and writing abilities, we found that he could not even write the Kannada alphabet. 

Pavan and mom in 2012
We enrolled Pavan in the nearby private school that our other kids attended and put him in 4th grade even though he should have been in 1st. Like all our other kids, Pavan got tutoring everyday after school for two hours.

Pavan was also malnourished and very skinny when he came to Karunya Mane, so we gave him extra nutrition, including milk, eggs, and multivitamins.

Over the past three and a half years, Pavan has demonstrated that he's quite a smart boy and just a really good kid. He is well-mannered, listens to his elders, contributes to a positive environment at Karunya Mane, and participates actively in all of his extracurricular activities. He's often selected for school performances, like the one below (that's him at the top of the pyramid).

Pavan in a school performance
And, now, after three years, Pavan is ranked in the top 5 in his 7th grade class! We are very lucky to be able to care for a great kid like Pavan, who came from such abject poverty and is proving himself to be quite an accomplished boy.

Pavan in December 2013
Our house mothers provide written evaluations of each child every year. On Pavan's recent report, the house mother noted that Pavan is very special and, with good guidance and support, will grow up to be an upstanding young man in society.

Give a kid the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential -- it's the most wonderful thing you can do!