Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Second Visit to Vaidehi Ashram.. by Siri

I find myself wondering...
Did I give you your due..
For all that you've done for me
Did I ever thank you?

For all of my childhood memories
For helping me deal with life's stresses
For helping me accept my defeats
And celebrate my successes?

Or for teaching me the value of hard work,
Good judgement, courage, and being true 
The laughter, smiles, and quiet times we've shared
Did I ever thank you? 

If I have forgotten, I'm thanking you now
You taught me right from wrong....
I hope you know how much you're loved and appreciated
I know you instinctively, knew it all along.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. Love you lots.

~ Author Unknown.


Today is my dad's 55th birthday and after many many years, I got an opportunity to spend the day with my parents. My mom made all his favorite dishes and in the evening we paid a visit to Vaidehi Ashram and gave about 3 Kg of Palak Pakodi as snacks for the little kiddos. :-)

Here are some photographs I clicked while I was there..

This quote is from Ashram's office


L-R: Vasavi, Sivasri, Bhuvaneshwari and Samatha on my lap

Children enjoying the snacks..


Her caretaker tells me, Vasavi is one shy girl who rarely comes near strangers..Hope we become friends one day . ;-)

this little girl was so curious what I was upto.  

On the very right is my uncle (my mom's eldest brother) who came with me to the Ashram today..

Kids ready for some play time!

[Updated on February 14th 2012] - Many have inquired about costs involved in sponsoring education, food etc for the Ashram girls. I visited them again and gathered the below information about various projects currently happening. Please send them an email at vaidehisevasamithi@gmail.com or call at +91-40-24075544 o+91 9032152105 to discuss regarding the project you wish to sponsor. If you need any other help from my side in terms of coordination, please let me know. I will be more than happy to do it.

More details on the Fund Drive for the Ashram Girls - Click here.

1. Adopt a girl for one year (Includes clothing, food, education and other necessities)    Rs 20,000/-

2. Vidyanidhi (Education costs a girl for one year)                                                           Rs 5,000/-

3. Mangala Nidhi (One time deposit to cover a day's food expenses commemorating any auspicious occasion every year)                                                                                                        Rs 20,000/

4. Smrithi Nidhi (One time deposit to cover a day's food expenses in remembrance of your beloved every year)                                                                                                                                Rs 20,000/-

5. Kishori Vikas Yojana Nidhi (Expenditure to run one Centre of Development Project for Adolescent Girls for one month)                                                                                                          Rs 1000/-

6. Vaidehi Mahila Vikasa Samithi (One month expenditure to train Unemployed Youth & Women. Also includes cost for food and shelter)                                                                              Rs 10,000/-

7. To sponsor a meal for all the Ashram girls:                                                                   Rs 2,000



The money raised through this fund-drive on Cooking With Siri will go directly to the Vaidehi Ashram, Hyderabad. All the transactions, payments, distribution process will be properly accounted for and details of the expenditure will soon be published on this blog. All donations are exempted from I.T Under 80-G and accorded permission under FCRA.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Visit to Vaidehi Ashram and A Call for Raffle Prizes.. by Siri

Courtesy : SIRI
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. ~ Dalai Lama

..and one of my 2012 resolutions was to be more sensitive and compassionate towards people around me. Quite unexpectedly (and thanks to my mom), I got to spend my New Year day at
Vaidehi Ashram  for Destitute Girls located near our house here, in Hyderabad. 

January 3rd
is my grandpa's birthday and my mom wanted to do something in memory of him. My grandfather (mother's father) was a man of few words and a heart of gold. He, despite of his hard childhood with no mother since a little kid lead a life of honesty and benevolence and there could have been no better way to celebrate the day, with the little girls of the Ashram.

On inquiring on what they needed the most, myself, my parents along with my uncles pooled together and donated -
60 Kg of Toor Dal, 30L of Vegetable Oil and 20 Kg of Sugar. The very thought that we could do something for the little girls filled our hearts with warmth and happiness. :-).

I wanted to do more for them, hence this post and a
Fund Drive that I wish to organise next month. *fingers crossed*.

Vaidehi Ashram is home for about 108 girls (from 3 to 22 years of age) who have no parents or a single parent who can no longer take care of them. Each one have a story of their own which will melt your heart and bring you to tears. The smallest one, Samatha as I was told was wandering on the streets near a railway station with her baby sister, when the police rescued them both and brought into the ashram.



It was New Year. So we were invited with these beautiful rangoli by one of the elder girls.
The lady who runs the ashram and makes sure everything is in order is Mrs.Suvathsala. She is one of the kindest women I have ever met in my life, whose smile is so infectious that you instantly fall in love with her. Everybody in the ashram endearingly call her as Mataji (which means mother). Her accounting skills are impeccable. It doesn't matter how much you donate and what you give to the ashram. You will get a proper reciept for everything and anything. Such is the commitment of the people and volunteers who come here day and night.
Mrs.Suvathsala a.k.a mataji
There are three storeys in the ashram, each of them with a big hall where the children sleep in rows. No beds, just cupboards where they can store their belongings.



All the girls eat their food as one big, happy family - the communal way. You can see in the photograph below my uncle, my mother's youngest brother (in grey suit) serving food to the girls.


Watch the video which I managed to shoot with my DSLR where the children sing and thank the Lord for providing them food and shelter.




Untitled from Siri P on Vimeo.
Not a single grain of rice is wasted by any of the children as they seem to know the value of it. Absolutely NO wastage. Isn't it something we ought to learn and implement in our day-to-day lives as well.

If you don't know Telugu, then the below notice board has details of the donors who sponsored their food and clothes for that particular day.


The girls here are multi talented as they participate in various cultural programs organised within the Ashram campus. I have got a special invitation for their Annual Day celebrations sometime in April, this year. :-)




I don't think I can ever forget the way the youngest lot, who are no more than 3 years old ate their food that was served with no qualms or complaints. I have seen children of their age cry their hearts out. But, these kiddos made me realise how valuable life is, especially how much of a difference parents bring in a child's life.


Each year, this bulletin board is updated which has details about which class each of the girls are studying.



When we were there in the Ashram, another group of people came with sweets and fruits to be distributed among the kids.




The girls here are also taught fine arts such as music, painting, dance and handicrafts etc. They are also provided with sufficient knowledge about good food and health which they in turn use to educate and empower women in nearby slum areas, which I thought is quite commendable.

This necklace was made by one of the kids which I bought for a nominal price. 
There is one person because of which all this happened. That is my Mother. She got to know about this ashram through one of her colleagues who volunteers here couple of days a week. My mom was looking for a place where she can donate all of my old clothes and that is when she found out about this Ashram. :-)


Ashram Details:

Vaidehi Seva Samithi
17-1-473/V/3&4
Beside Sri Saraswati Sisu Mandir High School
Krishna Nagar, Saidabad, Hyderabad - 500 059
Ph No: 040-24075544
Mobile: 9032152105
Email: vaidehisevasamithi@gmail.com

[Update]
If you wish to send your contributions directly, please draw a cheque or a demand draft in favour of - M/s Vaidehi Seva Samithi and send to the above mentioned address.


All donations are exempted from I.T Under 80-G and accorded permission under FCRA.

A Call for Raffle Prizes - Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram of Destitute Girls starting from January 26th 2012.

To help out the children at the Ashram, I am planning a Fund Drive from January 26th 2012. Something on the lines of what Indira organized years ago.

This is a call for raffle prize sponsors only. ...A blog post with full details about the Fund drive will follow in couple of days.


A "raffle prize" can be anything interesting which will encourage people to donate & bid for it.


Here is how it works
- A handful of sponsors will contribute raffle prizes. Once the Fund Drive begins on January 26th, others who would like to donate money (details about the various payment options will be published soon in a separate post) will bid for any of the prizes that interest them the most.
1 raffle ticket = 10$ or 500Rs.

For Example - If a donor donates
20$ or 1000Rs, then he/she gets 2 raffle tickets which can be used to bid on any of the raffle prizes listed. At the very end, a randow drawing (by the Ashram kids themselves) will be conducted to decide who gets each of the prize(s). If you have any questions or queries, please feel free to drop me an email info(dot)siri(at)gmail(dot)com.

All the proceeds collected during the Fund Drive will go to the Ashram in the form of provisions and any other necessaries they might have. I assure you with all my heart and soul that every penny will go to the care and feeding of those dear girls at Vaidehi Ashram.


Click here for the post 
 which has information about all the raffle prizes and their contributors. A Huge Thank You to all of them for their generous support. I will be updating the list as and when I get more prizes. If you wish to sponsor any, please feel free to drop me an email at - info(dot)siri(at)gmail(dot)com.


[
Updated on February 14th 2012] - Many have inquired about costs involved in sponsoring education, food etc for the Ashram girls. I visited them again and gathered the below information about various projects currently happening. Please send them an email at vaidehisevasamithi@gmail.com or call at +914024075544 or             +91 9032152105       to discuss regarding the project you wish to sponsor. If you need any other help from my side in terms of coordination, please let me know. I will be more than happy to do it.

1.
 Adopt a girl for one year (Includes clothing, food, education and other necessities)    [20,000/- Rupees]

2. 
Vidyanidhi (Education costs a girl for one year)                                                            [5,000/- Rupees]

3.
 Mangala Nidhi (One time deposit to cover a day's food expenses commemorating any auspicious occasion every year)                                                                                                               [20,000/- Rupees]

4. 
Smrithi Nidhi (One time deposit to cover a day's food expenses in remembrance of your beloved every year)                                                                                                                             [20,000/- Rupees]

5.
 Kishori Vikas Yojana Nidhi (Expenditure to run one Centre of Development Project for Adolescent Girls for one month)                                                                                                           [1000/- Rupees]

6. 
Vaidehi Mahila Vikasa Samithi (One month expenditure to train Unemployed Youth & Women. Also includes cost for food and shelter)                                                                                [10,000/- Rupees]

7. 
To sponsor a meal for all the Ashram girls:                                                                [2,000/- Rupees]


until next time,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Year Celebrations at Vaidehi Ashram, Hyderabad



Spent my first day of 2012 in the most amazing way possible at "Vaidehi Ashram" here in Hyderabad. It is home for about 108 girls who have no parents or a single parent who can no longer take care of them. By the end of the day, my heart swell with warmth and happiness. I am going to write about them in detail on my blog soon, so that you can experience, what I experienced and help them in whatever way you can. :-)

In the photograph - the youngest of all kids: [L-R] Vasavi & Samatha

Supporting the Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram of Desitute Girls, Hyderabad

 Source: http://www.cookingandme.com/2012/01/supporting-fund-drive-for-vaidehi.html
When Siri reached out to tell me about her fund drive for the destitute girls in Vaidehi Ashram, it brought back memories of the weekends I used to spend in a facility in Hyderabad that took care of orphaned kids with AIDS. I would go there every Saturday for a few months, hold the kids, play with them, paint, teach, and all the rest of the stuff that you would normally do when you volunteer at a place like this.

Then I would come home and mope around the house all weekend, not interested in going out, not willing to talk to happy people and generally being a pain to be around. That's the main reason I stopped going there. In a way, I guess that's selfish, but the more time I spent with those kids, the more depressed I became until one day I realised I am of no use to them or to me if I continued this way.


Photo by Siri
I then switched to to sending them a sum of money every month for their washing detergent (which was one of the most expensive things on their shopping list because they used about 6 washing machines every day, donated by a kind soul). Then I got married, relocated, and that was the end of that.

Shame on me.

I should thank Siri for this opportunity though. I am helping her raise money by contributing to the list of raffle prizes. Mine is probably the most cryptic item in the list mainly because I am not sure exactly what will go into this "Oriental Gift Basket" I am offering, but I am happy to work with you on this if you bid for my item. We could throw in some nice spices, herbal teas, pretty coasters, food photo props, cushion covers, feng shui items, and I will most definitely send you a small poster with your name in Chinese characters. That's a promise. Interested?

Here's how to take part in this raffle:

Step 1. Buy Raffle Tickets

Each raffle ticket is worth $10 (or Rs.500). You can increase your chances of winning the giveaway by buying more than 1 raffle ticket.

For Example, a donation of $20 will fetch you 2 raffle tickets which can be used to choose on any of the raffle prizes. You can use all your raffle tickets on one prize (in turn increasing the chances in the lucky draw) or on different prizes. To see the entire list of available items, check Siri's post. The items also make great gifts so keep an eye on the shipping countries and make a call.

2. How to Buy the Raffle Tickets

Click on the "Chip In" button below and you will be able to pay through PayPal or your credit card.

Once the donation process is completed, please forward your payment confirmation message to info(dot)siri(at)gmail.com and clearly mention the raffle item you would like to opt for. Eg: to choose the item I am contributing, include this info in your email "RU10 - Oriental Gift Hamper."

Within 24 hours, your name and contributed amount will be added to the ‘Fund Drive Supporters List’ at the very end of this post. If you want to stay anonymous, please let Siri know in advance. You can also email her with any questions or confusions in the donation process.

The fund drive ends on Feb 25th, 2012.

I know we keep hearing that our time is more valuable to people rather than money or things, but the way I look at it, when getting even the basics in life is a struggle, any kindness you show them is appreciated. I am sure the time I spent with those kids back in Hyderabad was in no way more valuable than the money I donated later. They accepted both with equal gratitude.

Photo by Siri
Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  ~William James