Friday, March 09, 2012

Hopeful, Happy, Helpful

I keep waiting for the perfect time to write this post. When I have enough time, enough energy to be able to convey what is in my heart. But the time has come when I can't afford conditions to be perfect.

I have a new love in my life. Her name is Yogalaxmi. She is a beautiful, talented, sweet girl. She also happens to be eastern Indian. She also happens to be orphaned. She also happens to suffer from the virus which took her parents from her. An AIDS orphan in a very impoverished region of India doesn't always get the help she needs. Luckily for Yogalaxmi, an amazing person named Sister Daisy has taken it upon herself to care for a group of these orphans, providing them with a home, with nourshement, and with love.

Luckily for ME, another amazing person, my cousin Melanie, came in contact with Sister Daisy and this group of kids. Many of us in Melanie's situation would feel heartbroken about it, would go home wishing there were something we could do, and maybe be a little more aware of our blessed lives. Melanie did all of those things. But she did something more. She decided to act. She, her family, and some friends in India created a non-profit charity called Gingham Project. And that is how I came to learn of Yogalaxmi, and was given the opportunity to support her personally.

The goals of Gingham Project, if I may be so bold, are these:

#1. to provide support for the orphans in Sister Daisy's care

#2. to help those and other children in the area of Tamil Nadu have the opportunity to get an education.

That second goal seems vast. I had not been previously aware that in many countries such as India, the government provides education to all kids, BUT in order to attend school a uniform is necessary. This policy effectively keeps the very poor from sending their children. So what do kids need? Uniforms. It's pretty simple, in reality. Uniforms and necessary school supplies are relatively cheap for our American budgets, about $20. For poor families in India, however, that may be months worth of their household income. In the aftermath of Cyclone Thane, which hit in early January, it's harder than ever for these families to provide uniforms.

Gingham Project is currently running a fund drive for uniforms. Their goal is to send 100 children to school this June ... the beginning of their school year. That's $2,000.00. They are about half-way there. Funds need to be raised by April 15. Is there some amount you can give? Is there some way to get your kids involved?

One personal plug for this organization ... Sometimes it can be scary to donate when you aren't sure what your money is really paying for. Melanie and her family and their associates in India don't recieve anything for their efforts. Heck, Mel's travel expenses come out of her pocket! And why travel expenses? Because everything that goes to these kids is hand delivered. No middle men. Melanie is planning a trip in May to deliver the uniforms and school supplies to the kids. In fact, it is a dear dream of mine to go with her. To see the area for myself, to meet the people we're serving. To wrap my arms around that darling Indian girl of mine.

Hopeful, happy, helpful. They are the words that Melanie uses to describe these kids. Poor beyond my comprehension, and yet radiant, inspirational. They have certainly inspired me from the other side of the world. Will they inspire you, too?