A little goes a long way for Indian kids

Julie Brusaschi and Govinda Sailer, pictured on their last visit to Rishikesh in the Himalayas, are gathering donations for the orphanage Ramanas Garden.

Julie Brusaschi and Govinda Sailer from the Billen Cliffs community near Larnook are no strangers to the contradictions of India a place of spiritual enlightenment and great beauty but also debilitating poverty, where an Australian dollar is worth a days food.

During their 2005 Indian pilgrimage Julie and Govinda happened upon Ramanas Garden, an orphanage high up in the remote mountains of the Himalayas. It was established by an American woman, Prabhavati, who went to Indian for spiritual enlightenment and ended up caring for poor and disadvantaged children.

The orphanage looks after 55 orphans and a provides schooling for hundreds of children from the 22 mountain villages, offering education, a grounding in meditation and nutritious hot meals.

It was inspiring to meet someone who has dedicated their life to the uplifting of the poor, said Govinda of Prabhavatis work. The children were so enthusiastic and eager the day that we visited full of life, smiles and giggles. Dispersed throughout the school grounds we saw many fruit trees and garden beds where the children grow their own organic fruit and vegetables. Some of the classrooms are still very basic as money is always a concern and more fundamental needs have to be looked after first.

Govinda and Julie will embark on their next Indian pilgrimage in early September. They are taking a small group over to experience India and will be visiting the orphanage, armed with much appreciated goodies that most of us take for granted like old cameras, watches, notebooks, pens and a bit of cash.

In every third world country a small amount of money goes a long, long way, said Govinda.

If any readers feel inspired to donate small goods or money that will reach the orphanage directly (and receipts are available) phone Govinda on 6633 7037.

If you would like to find out more about Ramanas Garden and the work of Prabhavati, go to www.sayyesnow.org.

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