India Trip June 2016 – This past June, we spent a week visiting our projects.  It was exciting to see your donations working hard to provide for the children we serve in India! Not only were we able to get a clear idea of the needs for the coming year,  we have come away determined to increase the scope of our projects and reach more children with a lasting impact.    

Executive Director Grant – We have been blessed to receive a grant from a private donor that will cover a one year salary for a full-time Executive Director.  The Board of Directors has decided to hire co-founder Kristi Werre to take on this new role.  Our hope is that with her direction, we will be able to gain momentum and increase funding to expand our current projects as well as initiate new ones.  

Vocational Training Project – One new project we are extremely excited about is a vocational training program that will eliminate the risk of human trafficking for the children aging out of the orphanages we support.  Our goals is to pilot this program with 20 teenage girls who are currently residing at the Kakdwip Children’s Home in West Bengal.  


Kakdwip Children’s Home
The third and final story to the building is complete!

We are currently raising funds to provide nutritious lunches, and school fees for the 165 children who live in this home.

The staff have recently started a poultry income generating project and are expanding their dairy income generating project with a goal to self-fund the children’s school fees and meals.  

Consider supporting one of the IGP projects, nutritious lunches, school fees, or our new Vocational Training Project in Kakdwip, West Bengal!  



ISRC – Special Needs Home

With your support, the special needs children at ISRC are being provided with:  
Nutritious Meals, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Special Education, Medical Care, and Trained Caregivers.  

Children will be moving into the new building this Fall.  A private outdoor courtyard will provide the children with regular gross motor play!  

Consider sending a donation to help us continue providing for the special needs children at ISRC


Would you partner with us today?

Here are 4 ways:

  • Give a one time donation.
  • Give a monthly donation.
  • Run an event to raise funds.
  • Spread the word on Facebook or forward this e-mail to someone!


Contact us at and let us know when your garage sale is and which project you want the proceeds to go toward.  If you need any tips for a successful fundraiser, we can hook you up!  Thanks for brightening futures with us!

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Ram is blind and has global developmental delays.

 A new home for some amazing children!

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.

 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.

Donate Now


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!!! 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.

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 These children are so precious.

 We can’t wait to see them in their new home!






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.

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.

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.

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.

Donors gave money for us to purchase items for these boys and hand deliver them.  We bought a newView More: 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.

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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!

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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.

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

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The new well!

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. 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. It was lunchtime and a delicious meal was prepared. We hand the privilege of serving the children before eating our lunch.


Carissa (our photographer) 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.


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


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


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.

Next post: Our visit with those adorable boys in Falta who live among the cobras…

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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.

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.

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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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.

Here is Avash! Love that smile!

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!

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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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:



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


Some of the auction items.


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


Curtis is inspiring the crowd!

Nichole and one of the auction baskets.

Nichole and one of the auction baskets.

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!

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!