Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Healing Hands for the children

While Sumedha runs the tea estate and supervises the pluckers and factory workers, his wife Kumari is busy trying to save the next generation. On many of these estates, the children are left alone all day to fend for themselves. The older ones take care of the babies and toddlers and run the household until the parents come back from work. As a result, they do not attend school and they suffer great privations in many respects. Then, at young ages, they have their own families and do as their parents did. Kumari is trying to break that cycle by running schools on her estate and another, providing nutritious food, medical care, and education for the children.

She organizes this work through a group she founded called Healing Hands Women's Organization. There is a story there, too. She started the group after the tsunami devastated the Sri Lanka coast several years ago. Her own home and children just missed being destroyed, and Kumari felt that she was left alive to accomplish some special good in the world. She started by organizing a women's sewing circle, to provide a setting for women to band together, learn a trade, and share their experiences. The work then spread to the children, and the women produce special boxes of tea bags and other crafts to raise funds for those efforts.

The children walk several kilometers to school each day, often carrying their younger siblings who cannot be left home alone. While the little ones are cared for in a nursery, the older ones learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. With tooth decay being a epidemic, children are taught about dental care, and they start each day by brushing their teeth. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, too. As an incentive to their parents to let them continue in the school program, each family receives a bag of foodstuffs for every 18 consecutive days their children attend school.

Kumari knows she cannot change the world with this work, but she figures that if she can create opportunities for even a few of these children, she will have done something important. If you click on the tea box in the post just below, you can find their contact information if you want to send donations. Even a little money goes a long way in this setting. Need convincing? Keep scrolling through to the kids, themselves, who look a lot healthier than they were when they were scrounging for themselves.

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