30 June, 2011

Whirlwind 1 - Day 1, Part 2: The Village Sisters

After much anticipation (I know you all have been refreshing your browser windows for the past week now) please enjoy the second issue of my as-complete-as-i-can-remember-since-i-didn't-write-anything-down-at-the-time-somewhat-but-not-necessarily-matter-of-fact account of our first whirlwind school tour. Right now we're in the middle of our second whirlwind school tour (Tumkur > Kudugal 2 > Mysore 2), so be prepared to be confused =D

After passing through Kudugal, we continued down the bumpy country agriculturey road to meetings we had set up with two local changemakers.

The first, Sister Celestine started her NGO, Sunanda Maitri Sagar, about 30 years ago to bring aid to the homeless, the poor, and the neglected children of the local village of Gollahalli and surrounding areas. They are well established now, with a beautiful campus and diverse range of programs designed to help people in need. Included in these are after school education, self help groups, and the production and sale of newspaper pens and incense sticks for supplemental funding.

Newly developed is their Better World Movement, which teaches their philosophy of love and cooperation by helping people realize, develop, and enact their potential as changemakers. If you want to get involved or learn more you can contact Sr. Celestine by email at suncelestine@yahoo.com or call the center at +91 815 327 7654, or get in touch with us and we can hook it up.

The second local good-doer, Sister Theresa, started her school two years ago through an organization she established called the Divine Charitable Trust. The school is a small building on a piece of relatively undeveloped agricultural land adjacent to a small village called Angondanahalli. Along with her colleague, Sister Juanita, and two local women who help them in exchange for basic healthcare and shelter, they teach in a single room a class of 55 children with minimal resources.

In meeting with them our eyes were opened to the hope and the struggle involved in such social ventures. The sisters have grand visions of a big, wonderful, equipped school for these children who are eager to learn, raised in a largely illiterate community by parents equally eager to seize the opportunity to educate their children. Their grant proposal requests a total of 90 lakh (~200 gizzles) and includes plans to expand with additional teachers and facilities. Undoubtedly they will face many difficulties in their work, but with persistence, optimism, and time, I am sure they will do great things for the future, bringing inspiration and education to thousands of local children and families.

Contact info for Sr. Theresa will be posted here soon. And of course, any messages you have we would be happy to receive and relay on her behalf.

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