Robin Cappuccino is currently traveling to all of the Child Haven homes – here are some thoughts from road.
Greetings from Kaliyampoondi, Child Haven’s largest Home, with 257 children and a dedicated staff of 40. If only I had half the memory for names our father has. The first thing the kids ask me is “what’s my name Uncle?”, and of course I remember relatively few, (there being 1,300 kid’s names to remember in all our homes).
Even when I do, if there are a bunch of kids in the crowd whose names haven’t permanently found a vacant nook in my feeble brain I hesitate to confess to remembering any so as not to play favorites. I’m pondering making flash-cards with pictures and names before one of these trips.
There are some beautiful names here as the pictures with names reveal. There are also wonderful stories – actually 297 of them – I guess each of us are the subject of a wonderful story, but many of the ones here seem especially compelling – like the one about the girl here because her single mother who ekes out a meager living as a prostitute, wants her daughter to have a different kind of life.
Or Ramanan, (see photo) who grew up in our Home after being brought here by his destitute single mother many years ago. He has just graduated from law school, the first person in his extended family to attend university. Many of our college students return to the Home regularly to help tutor the younger children.
While we were here, a puja or blessing, was held for the building of a new girl’s dorm. The state government has been insisting that we build one for several years now, after passing a law that girls and boys must be housed in separate buildings, (boys are on the first floor and girls on the second floor of our current building) We finally have the needed funds to at least begin construction, which is fortunate since there have been veiled threats to throw our Home’s Manager Ganesh in jail if we didn’t comply with this new law! The first puja photo shows Ganesh (in the pink shirt on the right) and a local Hindu priest blessing some bricks.
The bricks were then transferred to a foundation hole, and water poured over them by some of the female staff members. When the bricks were covered with water, a burning piece of incense on a leaf was floated around the mound of sand in the middle of the hole.
It’s sure to be a very strong and long-standing building. We currently have raised around half of the $175,000 it will cost to complete the construction. We’re all counting on the rest to come, especially Ganesh.
Food is a huge part of the Kaliyampoondi experience. The day begins with exercise followed by a glass of soy milk (made at the Home twice daily). All meals are preceded by prayers honoring all religions. Meals are served from huge cauldrons and are most often rice-based with dhal and spicy vegetables many of which are grown in the Home’s huge garden.
We’ll return to Kaliyampoondi at the end of our trip in late December. Today we leave for our home in Hyderabad – I’ll work on those names next.
Until next time,
Robin Cappuccino for CHI
Stay tuned for more ‘thoughts from the road’ as Robin continues his journey through the CHI homes in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Tibet.