it all began with ravi and his sister


Joined April 2010

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Artist's Description

taken at sera buddhist monastery, bylakuppe, india.

I stayed at a Tibetan monastery in the south of India to study Buddhist philosophy. On the monastery premises Indian children usually begged for money or food. One day on my way to class, a small girl followed me, insisting on her demand for a rupee. I turned around to shoo her away and looked at her outstretched hand. The skin had come off and the flesh lay bare. I touched her forehead. It was torridly hot. I grabbed her wrist and headed to the monastery clinic with her. A small boy silently followed us. The girl was treated with antibiotics and survived. The doctor told me that she had caught the infection because of collecting plastic waste from the rubbish heaps with her bare hands. Her small brother watched everything with an incredible attentiveness. He seemed to be such a bright little chap. I will never forget the dedication he put into hand washing after I bought them a piece of soap. I found out that their parents had died and the only relative left was a sick aunt who was not able to look after them properly.

A few days later I had to leave for home. The two children occupied my thoughts for a long time and when I got pregnant a bit later, I decided to make sure that they were given the chance to live a life in dignity as much as i wanted it for my unborn child.

The next time I visited, my daughter already practiced womb kicking and my husband made his first encounter with India. We stayed at the monastery guest house and the very next day we were approached by two men, the head of the rag-pickers community and the head master of a near-by school for caste-less children. They asked us if we would support the orphan children of the community with school uniforms, books, and a mid-day meal. We agreed and declared this in public at the rag-pickers’ community. This is how it started. Ravi, the little boy took his chance and went to school together with the older children the very next day, before we adults had carried out all the formalities. He is now at pre-university college. His sister Shanti, the girl who didn’t stop pestering me for a rupee, decided to quit school at an early age and go to work as a maid, so we lost track of her. But until now, we have been able to support up to 60 children who got an education and with it the chance to break out of the inherited poverty. This is thanks to my husband who spent a great deal of his savings for this purpose, thanks to all the sponsors who contributed and most of all to my Indian friend, Shamanthaka David, a local social worker who dedicated a lot of her time and energy to this project.

featured in:
left wing values and positive global awareness

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childhood dalits india karnataka

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