THE LITTLE ONES THAT STOLE MY HEART

The main reason I come to Mysore is to practice yoga with my teacher.  The couple of hours spent in the yoga shala in the wee hours of the morning are the highlight of the day. I’ve been coming here for seven years now. While it’s the yoga that keeps me coming back each year, there are other things that make my Mysore time special.

In 2008, I arrived in Mysore with a broken heart. I had just said goodbye to someone I loved dearly. I knew my yoga practice and the community of friends here would help. But I also knew I needed to keep myself busy and resist the urge to wallow in self-pity. Over the previous two years I had spent more than 12 months in India. It was time to give back to the country that had given me so much.

I started teaching English in the afternoons to some young children in a poor Muslim area of the city through an organisation called Pratham. One day my contact there, Mahesh, told me about a small children’s home that was very under resourced. I visited the home  – the space was tiny and the children were shy and sombre. Their ages ranged from 12 to 2 years and most had been rescued from the streets.

(After a few visits I wanted to learn their names so I took a series of these headshot photos. I didn’t realise then how fun it would be to look back and see how they have grown!)

I wasn’t sure what I could do to help. With the philosophy of something is better than nothing I started to visit them a couple of days a week in the afternoons. We sang songs, played games and anything else I could think of to entertain them (one day they even played musical statues to the accompaniment of my amateur flute playing – actually it was probably quite a few days!)

Other friends started to get involved and the support for the home snowballed. Funds were raised and donated. Activities became more ambitious from trips to the zoo, playtimes in the park to kirtans on the rooftop.

(I love this shot taken on a trip to the zoo!)

(The kids love it when Mark Robberds visits for kirtan. This was a particularly special night in 2010.)

Support for the home really ramped up in early 2011 when a fellow yoga student Chris Ebbe relocated to Mysore fulltime. Thanks to the ongoing commitment of Chris, Warren and Flora, as well as other volunteers and donors. the kids now have regular yoga classes, English tutoring, fresh fruit and vegetables, dental and medical check-ups.

Some of the children I first met in 2008 have left the home but many are still there. It’s been lovely to see them grow and develop their personalities over the last five years. They are a special bunch. They steal the hearts of everyone they meet with their big eyes, wide smiles and non-stop antics. They are definitely more precocious than when I first met them. To be completely honest, sometimes in the afternoon when I am feeling a bit worn out, I don’t always feel like honouring my tutoring commitments. But no matter how tired I feel sitting in the rickshaw on the way there, I always feel energised and very happy on the way back.

I once said to Chris, after he was telling me about some of the programs he had started for them, “Wow the kids are so lucky to have you here in Mysore.” He responded without a moment’s hesitation – “No I am lucky to have them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(Me with Sushmita just recently  – she has become quite the little madame since I first met her!)

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79 comments

  1. Very inspiring. Thanks to this!

  2. I really is better to give than receive. This warmed my heart. Great blog.

  3. Can children steal your heart by reading a blog? Yes they definitely can! It just happened to me..
    Thanks for such an inspiring and heart-warming post!

  4. I am so happy to read that you are doing such a wonderful job in my India!!! :)

  5. they all look so cute and innocent, not a care in the world <3

  6. Congrats on being freshly pressed. I envy your experience, because anything concerning sweet beautiful children is just beautiful to me. I raised five kids, and I love looking back at beautiful pics. Great blog, lovely pictures, real life experience, go you!

  7. What a heart-warming story!

  8. How rewarding is what you’re doing? What an opportunity. I love children – they have so much potential and it’s magic to be able to help them in any way to reach a bit more of that potential.

    Congratulations on a job well done!

  9. This is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing! :)

  10. I love this! It’s a very heart warming and a wonderful experience to share. :-)

  11. Beautiful kids indeed. I had a similar experience living/helping at a children’s home in the Philippines. Just wait until they start introducing you to their own children one day! It’s pretty crazy, in an awesome sort of way!!!

  12. I really appreciate your work and best wishes to you.

  13. You should visit Sri Lanka some time

  14. it’s a great post, thank you so much for sharing :)

  15. they have so “little” but still they’re so happy!! :-) great post :D

  16. Love it!!! This is fantastic and very inspirational!!! The joy and happiness of these children must be incredibly rewarding!!! :)

  17. lovely post…i experienced the same when i took an Art of Living balchetna shivir in a slum a few months back :)

  18. Amazing blog! So how many months per year do u spend in India helping out, or is it where you’re located full time

  19. very inspiring ,,thanx 4 sharing

  20. These children are fortunate to have your support and love. Without you the odds of suffering and death would be much higher.

    The CIA Fact Book reports that 43.5% of children in India are underweight and 39% of the people are illiterate in addition to 29.8% of the population living in severe poverty.

    In fact, the World Food Programme reports, “around 43 per cent of children under the age of five years are malnourished and more than half of all pregnancy women aged between 15 and 49 years suffer from anaemia. … India is home to about 25% of the world’s hungry poor.”

    And ABC World News reported on February 12, 2012 that 3,000 children die every day due to illnesses related to poor diets …

  21. Beautiful:) I love this, thank you for sharing your story,

  22. You are a pure light of inspiration.

  23. gord gord very gord

  24. Your post has captured the wonderful smiles of the kids. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

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