Illuminate India Blog

A New Home

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What could be more exciting?  

A new home for some amazing children at ISRC!

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Ram is blind and has global developmental delays.

ISRC is our wonderful partner orphanage that inspired Brie and I to start Illuminate India in 2011.  We have been supporting them through our therapeutic interventions project and our essential provisions project.  Read about our most recent trip to visit ISRC here.

For many years they have been renting a portion of the building that houses their special needs children as well as the toddlers and school age children who are placed there because of abandonment.  The building is old and in a consistent state of disrepair.  The rent has been raised often and ISRC has had to pay for repairs out of pocket.

The director has been hopeful for many years that ISRC would be able to build a permanent home for the children on a plot of land that ISRC owns.   And now, her dream is coming true!  The plans have been drawn up for a two story building  with an enclosed outdoor courtyard for the children to be able to safely play in.

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This little guy and his friends could really use an outdoor play area!

To fund just the building, we need to raise a minimum of $60,000.  But we would really like to raise $75,000 so that ISRC would have funds to provide new furnishings (like hospital beds for the children who are medically fragile), and outfit the building with the best design to ensure that the special needs children can have the best care.

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These two children have hydrocephalus and are medically fragile.

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We have had a generous donor come forward and donate $25,000 toward this project.  In addition, the same donor has agreed to donate $25,000 more as a matching grant donation!!!!!  What a blessing!!!  If we raise just $25,000, we will have the $75,000 we need to fund the  construction and provide these children with a home.

We need you!  Our goal is to raise $25,000 for ISRC.

Any extra we raise would go towards our projects that support the children at ISRC (physical and speech therapy/special education and nutritious foods).

It is expected that they will be breaking ground sometime toward the middle of next month.  That’s in just a few short weeks!

Do you have a heart for orphans?  Special needs children?  Abandoned children?

If the answer is yes, contribute toward this project!!!Donate Now

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You can even start your own campaign to help fund this project here.Set a goal amount, share with your family and friends and make a lasting difference in these children’s lives.

Please spread the word.  We

don’t have much time to fund this project.

 These children are so precious.  We can’t wait to see them in their new home!

 

India Trip 2014 {Part 3}

Did you miss Part 2? Read it here.

To get to the boys in Falta is a pretty quick 1 1/2 hour drive south of Kolkata. Once we turned off of the main road, we had to drive through a very narrow road/path that took us right through the local market. We passed by rice paddies, open fields, grass roofed houses, and lush jungle views. Turning into the property just took my breathe away. This area is so incredibly beautiful.

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The path leading to the boys’ home.

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The boys’ home.

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The boys with Kamal Saha – the director, some of their teachers, and caregivers.

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The garden!

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A beautiful woman from the local village.

We were welcomed by children blowing conch shells and the entire group of boys and staff, and some of the villagers waiting for us with flower garlands and coconuts to drink. I will never in my life take that amazing kind of welcome for granted.

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Nichole receiving her flower garland.

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Ryan receiving his flower garland.

There are 25 boys at the Naba Tarun Sangha home in a small village in Falta. All of these boys were either orphaned because of the death of parents, or abandonment. They all come  from this or neighboring villages. The wonderful man who cares for them, Kamal Saha has been running this home for over twenty years with no outside help. He and the villagers have been supporting these boys on their own. Their building is old and falling apart. On our last trip we met Kamal Saha and asked how we could help.

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Kristi trying out the new well. It works!

Their most immediate need was for clean water. Their old well was not dug deeply enough and the arsenic coming from the ground (common in West Bengal) was making the boys sick. Last spring we ran an on-line fundraiser and through donations and a matching grant we raised the funds. This past Fall the well was completed.

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The boys on their new bunk beds.

Also in the Fall because of the donation of an amazing couple, we were able to purchase the boys bunk beds to get them up off of the ground. In their village they have a cobra problem and the boys were vulnerable at night sleeping on the ground.

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Our team with the boys. Missing Carissa who was taking this photo.

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From American kids in Idaho, Oregon, and Minnesota, we brought the Falta boys journals, smencils, socks, bracelets, and licorice. They were thrilled to receive the gifts and smiled their shy smiles at us. Through a translator we tried to get to know them as best we could. The boys range in age from 3 years old up to 17 years old.

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Sweet girl from the village singing and playing the harmonium. Serious talent here!

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One of the talented local dancers. They were all so lovely!

The director had also prepared a wonderful program for us put on by the local villagers.  There was a warm breeze and it felt like heaven to sit with the boys and listen to the songs and watch the dancing.  If it weren’t for the cobras I think I might be tempted to move here.  :-)  We spent several hours just enjoying the kids and the talent of the local villagers.  Pretty soon we were called up to the roof top terrace to enjoy a meal.  And what an amazing meal it was.  We all gained some weight that day!  The director shared his vision with us for the boys and their land.  This man is so inspiring.  His heart is to help not only the boys in his home, but also the surrounding village which has been hit hard by cancer (from the pesticides used on the crops in the area) and tuberculosis.  He has given his life for these boys and is one of the most humble, caring people I have ever met.  He hasn’t given up even though times have been tough and there haven’t been enough resources.  He has so many great ideas and goals.  We are thrilled to be able to partner with this boys home!  More news on that in a future post.

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Boys with part of the cricket set we purchased.

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The boys with some of the items we purchased with your donations.

Donors gave $ for us to purchase items for these boys and hand deliver them.  We bought a new computer so the boys can be taught computer skills, a tv to be used for recreation and education, sports equipment like soccer balls, cricket set, and badminton set.  And we also gave them a donation toward their food supply.  One of our team members purchased new shoes for each of the boys because they have to walk three miles to and from school every day.  Most of them walked barefoot or had shoes with holes.  And one of our team members printed and brought shirts with our logo on them for the boys to wear (he also gave them to the children in Kakdwip).  This same team member raised money for a cow to be purchased for this home so they can always have fresh milk.

Next post: Will wrap up our trip and all the details you’ve been waiting for about specific projects we will focus on this year.  There is so much we can do together!  It’s going to be a great year!View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014

India Trip 2014 {Part 2}

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That narrow path/road on the way to the children’s home in Kakdwip.

Did you miss Part 1?  Read it here.
The drive to Kakdwip takes almost 3 hours from Kolkata on a two lane highway of sorts. As we got closer to the village we had to turn onto this narrow path that looked as if it was made for people and bikes only. On our last trip we parked the car at this point and rode tractors in the rest of the way.  But not this time!  Apparently as long as there is a “road” any vehicle is welcome to travel on it. So off we went in our car. Soon we were greeted by the children holding signs and beating drums to welcome us. It was beautiful and humbling to receive such a welcome.
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The location is dreamy and felt like we were right in the middle of the jungle. Which technically we were! Inside the gates where the children’s home was built, several girls were holding flower garlands which they hung around each of our necks. We were given freshly opened coconuts to drink. Again…so humbling.
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The two story children’s home.

There are over 100 children at the Illuminate India “Angel House”. Through generous donations we funded the construction of the two story building over the last two years. We partnered with another organization called Angel House who managed the construction of the home.

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The new well!

Through our amazing donors we also funded the installation of a well so the children could have clean drinking water.

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We had some of the children sit here so we could pass out gifts and take pictures.

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Kristi hanging out with some of the newer children.

A group of people from Kakdwip formed the Kakdwip Rural Development Association to take care of the children here. They are all such wonderful and caring people. Each child has a bed and three meals a day. The school that the children attend is next door to the home. Many of the kids smile at us and seem to remember some of us from our visit last year. I recognize many of them. They have grown over the last year and seem happy and well taken care of.

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Some kids from Boise, Idaho and Medford, Oregon decorated and donated journals for each child. Children from Minnesota, Oregon, and Idaho made rubber band bracelets for each child at the children’s home in Kakdwip. Also donated for this visit were smencils (good smelling pencils!) for each child, licorice and socks.

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Ryan and Nichole passing out gifts.

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Some of the girls were dressed in traditional clothes and had prepared some dances for us.  It was so much fun to watch them perform.  They were so beautiful and graceful.
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It was lunchtime and a delicious meal was prepared. We had the privilege of serving the children before eating our lunch.

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Carissa (our photographer) serving lunch!

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Nichole and Kristi serving lunch.

We spent some time (though not nearly enough) with the children.  We also had some good conversation with the people who run the children’s home about what projects need to be funded for this year. As you can imagine, running a home for over 100 children takes a lot of resources.

With donation money that we took on our trip to meet specific needs, we were able to purchase three computers, sports equipment, and a few musical instruments.  The school is now offering computer classes and music lessons!  And the children are now participating in sports during their recreation time.

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Soccer balls! We forgot the air pump at the hotel that day so we had a local friend deliver it later.

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This was sent to us after we returned. Computers are set up and the kids are already taking classes!

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The harmonium is a traditional instrument that is similar to an accordion. This pic was sent after we returned home. The kids are thrilled to have one to learn on.

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One of our team members printed up t-shirts with our logo on them and gave them to the kids here and in Falta.  Also donated by him along with his family and friends back home (to be delivered soon)  are 3 cows!  The children’s home wants to start working toward sustainability and the cows will be their first opportunity to do that.

All too soon it was time to leave. We vowed to spend more time at the Kakdwip home on our next trip. And we will!  (More details on our future first ever volunteer trip in an upcoming post.)

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our trip as well as how you can partner with us to help the children in Kakdwip!  

Next post: Our visit with those adorable boys in Falta who live among the cobras…
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India Trip 2014 {Part 1}

At the end of January, we took a small team with us to visit our projects and develop a vision for the needs we will try to meet this year.  First stop was Kolkata to visit ISRC, our partner orphanage.  The special needs wing of ISRC is called Madhur Muskaan.View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014

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Nichole (our amazing fundraising guru) and one of the new children.

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Ryan (he came to scout out our future first ever volunteer trip!) had a way with the toddlers. :-)

Kristi and Anju, the director of ISRC.

Kristi and Anju, the director of ISRC.

 

Carissa and ISRC kids

Carrisa (our awesome photographer) and two adorable toddlers.

This sweet girl came to ISRC very recently.  Although she is one of the oldest children there, she loves to play with the younger ones and help out.

This sweet girl came to ISRC very recently. Although she is one of the oldest children there, she loves to play with the younger ones and help out.

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Kristi and Tamal.

It always feels like home when we visit ISRC.  They gave us the most amazing welcome and it was wonderful to see the director, staff, and children again.  There were some new faces and plenty of familiar ones as well.  We were able to see first hand the renovations that have been done with donation money, we rode in the van that Illuminate India purchased, and we saw the children eating the nutritious foods that the donations have been providing.  The best part for me was seeing how much progress the special needs children have made in the past year with all of the special education and physical therapy they have been receiving.View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014 View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014 View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014View More: http://ckgphotography.pass.us/india2014

During our week we spent parts of several days at ISRC with the children.  We also met with the director, physical therapists, special educators, doctors, and caregivers.  They gave us a list of things they need this year to provide better for the children.  This will help us determine our fundraising efforts for the year.  The therapists and special educator gave us an update on the progress of each child in the last year.  I was amazed at how many children have made huge developmental gains.  Their goal is to help each child become as independent as possible and meet as many developmental milestones as possible.  Their hard work is definitely paying off.  I can’t wait to see the gains the children will have made next year!

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The special educator.

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One of the physical therapists.

 

 

 

 

 

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On our last day we took a group of them to the park.  The smiles on their faces are just priceless.  For some, it was their first trip to the park.

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Avash is 16 and has been at ISRC since birth.  He has cerebral palsy and has made enormous progress within the last year because of the physical therapy, special education, and nutritious supplements he has been receiving.  Avash had never been to the park before.  He had the time of his life riding the little merry go round and being pushed around the park in his wheelchair.  Seeing him smile like that is so rewarding.  Your donations are making an amazing difference in these children’s lives!

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Here is Avash! Love that smile!

We came away from our time at ISRC excited about the new year of fundraising to meet the needs of these precious children.

Stay tuned for more about the trip and details on how you can partner with us this year!

Next post : our visit to Illuminate India’s Angel House in Kakdwip!

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Our two story Angel House in Kakdwip

Curry for a Cause Idaho 2013

The 2nd Annual Curry for a Cause Idaho was held on August 24th in Meridian, Idaho!  $13,038 was raised for the special needs orphans at our partner orphanage in Kolkata!  The children will now receive one full year of physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education services.  In addition a large portion of nutritional supplements for the year was covered.  We are absolutely thrilled with the generosity of our donors and we can’t thank you all enough!  Check out pictures from the event below.

We had delicious Indian food catered from a local restaurant, but the highlight of the dinner was the homemade Hyderabadi biriyani made by the talented Suraj Mathew (and his faithful kitchen crew).  It was obviously the biggest hit because there was not a scrap of it left, and believe me he brought enough for everyone.  We had an anonymous donor cover the entire cost of the catering.  Such an enormous blessing!

A live auction was the main event of the night.  Our friend Suraj made 5 amazing homemade cakes for the dessert auction along with two sampler trays for everyone to enjoy.  We had so many great auction items donated by local people and businesses.  We even had a local artist donate four of her framed original paintings which brought in a total of $540!  Curtis Anderson was our auctioneer for the night and he did an amazing job of engaging the crowd and creating an inspiring atmosphere.  Curtis also found us an anonymous donor who donated $5,000 matching grant.  This was a huge motivator for the crowd.

Nichole Flores was our event coordinator and she did an outstanding job of making sure every detail was taken care of.  She and a big crew of volunteers put their heart into making the night a blow-out success!  Can’t wait to do it again next year!

If you are interested in hosting a Curry for a Cause in your town, contact Nichole Flores for all of the how-to’s!  208-860-9696

Or e-mail us at: illuminateindia@rocketmail.com

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Nichole Flores (event coordinator) and Kristi Werre (co-founder)

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Some of the auction items.

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The food line!

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Our wonderful volunteer Sandy, modeling our Illuminate India tumblers!

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Kristi is sharing about the special needs orphans in Kolkata who will benefit from therapy services.

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Curtis is inspiring the crowd!

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The super talented Trupti drawing henna on our guests.

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Check out those amazing paintings on the back wall. They auctioned off for a total of $540!

 

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Some of the volunteers, we are missing a few. :-)

 

Suraj and his sampler cakes.  Delicious!

Suraj and his sampler cakes. Delicious!

 

Nichole and one of the auction baskets.

Nichole and one of the auction baskets.

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Just Four More!

Illuminate India welcomed the coming of spring and sunnier skies with a garage sale challenge for our followers. This “Clear Clutter for Kids!” campaign was calling for ten garage sales by the end of the summer. To date, three successful sales have taken place in three different states with three additional sales currently planned.

Idaho raised $1200. Arizona raised $700, and our Washington sale held June 1st, consisting of an assortment of gently used donated household items from Donna Duval, Cheryl Ott, Marlise Ross, Di Anna Kurriger, and Joan Cassaw raised $567 in just 6 hours! Everything from potted plants to designer shoes to that movie we just couldn’t watch one more time was sold and if you happened to cross paths with one of my darling daughters, on the way out (ages 4 and 6), they most likely sweet talked you into a “dollar-dog” hotdog, or cookie for the road!

This being our 2nd annual sale, we were delighted to have so many returning customers, many who came to simply make a donation. The kindness of their hearts was so appreciated and touched all of us, making our day fly by and be so much fun. With accumulation of more gently used treasures well underway, we can’t wait for next years sale.

Doing the math, 3 sales accomplished, plus 3 more sales planned in Idaho, Colorado and Indiana equals 6 sales, leaving  Just Four More to go to reach our total of ten Clear Clutter for kids sales goal! With the help of donated items from family and friends, and an Illuminate India garage sale kit provided by our event coordinator Nichole, your sale will be a snap! Call Nichole at (208) 860-9696 for your free kit and schedule your sale today!

A New Year Means New Projects!

Before heading to India at the end of November last year, both Brie and I were hopeful that we would come home with a long list of potential projects for 2013.  I’m happy to say that we did just that!  We are super excited to let you all in on what we are hoping to accomplish this year with your help.

*Clean Water Project:

2 wells = $10,000

While at our Angel House in Kakdwip we became aware that they have a need for a well.  In this area of West Bengal, it is necessary to dig 1,000 feet to reach clean water.  The cost to provide one well at this depth is approximately $5,000.  We would like to provide clean water for our Angel House children in Kakdwip.

We were able to connect with a man who lives in the village of Falta, about half way between Kolkata and Kakdwip.  He has formed an organization that takes care of 26 abandoned boys.  Falta is a poor village and the children do not have adequate support.  The director is only able to provide two meals a day and an education for these boys.  They sleep on the floor of their local school building, and they are currently drinking water that is not clean and has arsenic in it.  We would like to provide a well for the boys in Falta.

*Second Story Project:

Build a second story for 50 more orphans in Kakdwip = $25,000

Immediately when we arrived at the site of our Angel House, we discovered that there are actually 100 orphaned children, not just 50.  The house parents in Kakdwip have been taking care of these 100 children for over 2 years.  When their situation was discovered by our partner organization, the largest Angel House possible was designed for a maximum of 50 children.  The house parents hoped they could somehow raise funds to add another story for the remaining 50 children later.   The youngest 50 were placed in our Angel House, while the older 50 are still sleeping on the concrete roof of their school building.  We found out that the building was built with enough structural support to withstand a second story.  Our goal is to build a second story onto the existing Angel House to provide a home for the remaining 50 orphans.  

*Therapeutic Interventions Project:

Continuing support of special needs orphans at Madhur Muskaan = monthly sponsors $20 per month

After visiting our partner orphanage in Kolkata, we are even more passionate about continuing to provide physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education services for the special needs orphans there.  The children are making enormous gains in their development and we are so excited for them!    The Therapeutic Interventions Project will provide weekly therapy and special education services for the special needs children at Madhur Muskaan.

*Essential Provisions Project:

Continuing support of special needs orphans at  Madhur Muskaan = monthly sponsors $20 per month

We know that part of the reason that the children at Madhur Muskaan are thriving is because they are receiving fruits and nutritious supplements on a daily basis.  Their environment is clean and stimulating.  Our goal is to continue sponsoring fruits, nutritious supplements, and any other essential provision that the children at Madhur Muskaan are in need of to be healthy and continue their development.

We have been blown away by the generosity and support Illuminate India has received in 2012. Together we have provided aid to 96 orphans!  We are so thankful for your commitment. We hope this year we can continue uplifting the underprivileged and fulfilling needs. Click here for ways to get involved or consider making a donation or being a monthly sponsor!

Helping Hands ~ Paying It Forward To Orphans In Need

We feel so happy and grateful for the impact Illuminate India has been able to achieve in 2012. In this last year, we have supplied aid for 96 orphans. We have been able to provide basic needs as well as focused therapies for children in need. One of the reasons for the success of our projects is because of caring people that decide they want to give of their self and make a difference. One girl named Rachael is paying it forward in a very special way.

This day, thirteen years ago, a baby girl was born. She was born in a city of millions yet her life was destined to be joined with a family half way around the world. Until she could be united with her family in America, Rachael’s home in India was a special orphanage in Kolkata, India.  The caregivers ensured her safety and care. Rachel is forever thankful for the efforts of the staff members. She has chosen to pay it forward and use her talents to give back and help other orphans that are in need.

Rachel loves music and the arts. She enjoys playing the piano and xylophone. She also spends her time hanging out with friends, participating in school and church activities and creating specialty items for her project Helping Hands- Hata Sahayya. This project was inspired after watching a mission’s video at church about some girls making jewelry and crafts and then sending the proceeds to benefit a project in Africa.  Rachel had an idea to unite her passions for designing crafts and giving back. She wanted to focus on helping other babies who were living in an orphanage just like she once did in India.

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Some of the unique and beautiful necklaces Rachel makes

Rachel, her mother, and friends have been busy making journals, necklaces, coffee mugs, memo holders and various other trinkets to sell at festivals. The proceeds are sent to help orphans in need. Their first event was at the Adamsville Main St. Music Fest in Sept. followed by another event in December.

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Hand Made Journals

Her family and friends are so supportive and proud of all that she is accomplishing. Many of them lend a helping hand and spend time creating the unique items to sell. People who purchase her items are also inspired and pleased to learn what Rachel is doing. Rachel gives each one a thank you card describing her efforts and detailing where the money is going. Helping Hands-Hata Sahayya has been able to donate over $250 this year!

Rachel’s mother Regina says, “Rachel has always been a caring girl”. She describes her daughter as smart, witty and talented. “Her dad and I seem to have always known that she would do mission-minded activities. We are proud of her for taking the initiative to begin a project like this one”.

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Embellished Dry Erase Board

Rachel plans on returning to her birthplace for the first time in 2014.  She will join other adoptees on a birth land tour organized by her adoption agency.  When she visits she will be able to see firsthand the benefits of all her efforts being paid forward.

Rachel, thank you for all of your efforts, hard work and most importantly your caring heart, we hope this year on your thirteenth birthday you feel joy and purpose in all that you are and all that you wish to achieve. Thank you for turning your passion and inspiration into action. You are brightening the futures of impoverished children in India. Thank you!

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Rachel

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Fun and Creative Hand Made Necklaces

The Van Has Arrived!

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Thank you for funding this project for the special needs children at Madhur Muskaan. This Multi Utility Vehicle – TATA SUMO GOLD 9 seater – will be used for park visits, hospital emergencies and trips for therapy sessions.

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With no outside play area around the orphanage,  trips to the park are definitely a highlight for the kids!

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We Had Christmas In Calcutta!

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Nichole (Special Events Coordinator), Brie (Co-Founder), and Kristi (Co-Founder) after an amazing welcome from Madhur Muskaan.

To sum it up…our trip to Calcutta was absolutely amazing.  Looking back, we couldn’t have asked for a better trip.  Every meeting was successful, and every task we set out to complete went perfectly.  Our time with all of the children was so precious.  It left us longing for the day we can go back, get to know them better and help meet more of their needs.  Here is a quick summary of what we did, and a few pics thrown in there to help you visualize yourself there with us!

Madhur Muskaan Therapeutic Interventions Project

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Special Educator working with one of the special needs children at Madhur Muskaan.

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Kristi playing with one of the children at Madhur Muskaan.

Our first stop was a visit to our partner orphanage in Calcutta.  They have 23 special needs children ranging from age 2 to age 16 (as well as children who do not have special needs).  One of the main ways we support Madhur Muskaan and the children there is to provide special education and physical therapy on a weekly basis.  This is our Therapeutic Interventions Project.

Therapists and educators come almost every day to provide services.  We were able to meet with two of the physical therapists and the special educator to discuss the children’s progress.  We were also able to ask about ways we can meet the children’s needs further.  The specialists are wonderful people who truly love the children and it was obvious while watching them interact with them, that the children love them as well.  We came away with our questions answered, and a list of equipment and educational toys and supplies that would be beneficial for the therapists to use with the children.  There is no doubt in our minds that the therapy and educational services these children are receiving is making a huge impact in their lives.  Thank you for donating towards the therapeutic interventions project!

A Visit to the Park

Park Adventure

Park Adventure

During our trip we were able to spend time playing with the children at Madhur Muskaan.  We were able to visit the local playground.  We piled about 12 of the children into a few vehicles and drove to the park for some playtime.  The children so rarely get to go because Madhur Muskaan did not have a large enough vehicle to transport the children.  It takes too much  resources to hire enough taxis to take the children on a regular basis.  So when we got there, it was apparent that the children didn’t know what to think of this adventure!  Some of them were nervous, some of them were excited, and some of them were ready to explore.  All in all, we had a great time with the children.  And the best news is that because of your donations to the van project, Madhur Muskaan is now in the process of purchasing an ambulance/van that is large enough to take the children to the park on a weekly basis!  They will also be able to transport some of the more medically fragile children safely to medical appointments and hospital visits.  Thank you for making an investment into the lives of these beautiful special needs children!

Shopping Spree

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Our last order of business for Madhur Muskaan was to purchase some of the therapy equipment and educational toys that the therapists and special educator had asked for.  First we went to a specialty store to purchase a much needed walker for the therapists to use with a couple of the children.  Using the walker will help them gain strength and balance, another step closer to independent mobility!

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Some of the items we purchased for the children at ISRC.

Next we visited a local toy store and were able to spend about $500 of your donations to buy everything on the list!  It was so fun to bring all of the bags of items back to the orphanage.  We took a few things out to play with the children right away and they were so excited!  It felt like Christmas!  The rest of the items were organized by the therapists and have since been put to good use in therapy sessions and during daily play time.  Thank you so much for making this possible!

 Angel  House – Kakdwip, West Bengal

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We had been anticipating the opening of this home for many months. The day was finally here. We headed for the village of Kakdwip which is about a 3 hour drive from Calcutta. Once there we could hardly contain our excitement. We will never forget the overwhelming feeling of joy that came over us when we caught the first glimpse of the children. They welcomed us in grand style. They played music, sang songs and adorned our necks with flower garlands. Their faces were so beautiful and their happiness was contagious.

After dedicating the home the children went inside for the first time.  Laughter and joy filled the air as the children ran to their bedrooms and claimed their beds. ry=400[9]IMG_0378We celebrated with a delicious lunch including a beautiful cake.  It was so great to see the children eating in their brand new dining room. We then passed out backpacks, shoes and Christmas gifts. Handmade cards were designed by children in Idaho and children in ry=400[8]ry=400[6] (2)Oregon had made gifts and sent an alphabet book to start a library. The children were so excited to receive these things, for some this was the first gift they had ever been given. We were excited to play with the children and the feeling was mutual. They enjoyed taking pictures of each other with our cameras and reading their new books. Brie taught some of the children a nursery rhyme.  Their faces IMG_0220IMG_0255were lit up with big smiles and they were giddy with the events of this special day. It is so wonderful to know that they don’t have to worry about where they will sleep at night. Now they have a safe place to call home. Well at least 50 of them do. When we were there we learned that there are actually 50 more children in the village that are still in need of a home.

50 children who still need a home

50 children who still need a home

The good news is that when this home was constructed they created a staircase and a good base support so that another level could be built to accommodate more children. Our hope is to do just that!

Thank you for making such an impact in these children’s lives. We can tell you firsthand that without a doubt this home has drastically changed their daily lives and will have a lasting impact on their childhood. Looking into these children’s faces and seeing their joy and innocence has left us forever changed.  These children are abandoned, they are orphans, but like all children they are deserving of opportunity.IMG_0337

After being in India and seeing the needs firsthand we have a clear idea of what the future projects and goals are for 2013. We are thrilled to announce that your contributions have created positive change and improvements for the special needs children at Madhur Muskaan and the children of Angel House. Please know that you have made a great impact in brightening the futures for impoverished children in India and from the bottom of our hearts we extend our thanks.  Christmas in Calcutta was a success!