April 1, 2008

My Niece Sophie is Back from India!

My niece, Sophie, is finally back from India and she would love to share some of her recent experiences with you.

While this chilly spring weather here in Connecticut leaves me longing for the South Indian heat, I am so grateful to be home with my family.  I would like to share a little about the final month and a half of my 9-month journey. The majority of this time was spent in Chamrajanagar, Karnataka at the Deenabandhu Trust, a wonderful institution that is the home to 50 orphaned and destitute children.  While I may have been sharing my knowledge of yoga, drawing, and English, I was a student there, more than anything else. The children taught so much about many diverse subjects, including cow milking, Kanada (The Karnataka state language which I love.), herbal medicines, Bharatanatyam dance, cricket, and more.

Each day was full, but far from fatiguing. I conducted three yoga classes daily, taught drawing, often visited the 250-child Deenandbhu School, encountered snake charmers, learned about pepper and coffee farming in the beautiful B.R. Hills, attended the children’s music and dance classes, and so much more.  I went to bed each night content and grateful.

I would like to thank everyone who works at Deenabandhu, particularly founder G.S. Jayadev and Mr. Krishna Kumar, for their kindness, selfless generosity, and knowledge. Their institution, which has become a second home to me, is one of the cleanest and most optimistic places that I have visited in India.  I hope the photographs below may even begin to convey some of my experiences and the positive aura I found there.

If you would like to learn more about the Deenabandhu Trust, please visit their website at www.DeenabandhuTrust.org

For more information about me, please visit:  www.sophiesundar.com   

10 year-old Rumya dressed up for the annual School Day performance.

5 year-old Cheyten, who is wonderful at this tire pushing game.

Megha, the 13 year-old girl whom I sponsor, in her Bharatanatyam dance class. She is a truly gifted performer.

Here I am milking a cow – a daily chore I adopted from my 15 year-old teacher, Siddu.  I'm not sure when I'll need this newly acquired skill back in New York.  2 of the 4 cows are milked first thing in the morning and before dinner.

The founder, Mr. G.S. Jayadev's, coffee and pepper farm in the B.R. Hills, a remote tribal hill region of Karnataka. I miss the wonderful coffee, which I had each morning with fresh milk.

Siddu, my cow-milking teacher, performing side-crow. It was beautiful to watch my yoga students' practices evolve.

10 year-old Gurudath at Deenabandhu.

The Snake Deepu and his python. This man, who lives nearby Deenabandhu, helps protect and rehabilitate snakes into the wild.

Sundar was able to come to Deenabandhu for a few days, one of which happened to be his birthday. We gave a small donation in order to have two special meals. Here he is helping prepare poori, or fried whole-wheat flatbreads, which were served with sagu, a special vegetable curry. We had a beautiful celebration.

Some of the children during the evening free time.

1st standard at the Deenabandhu School.