Saturday, September 22, 2012


Kids love to draw. Ours do also, and some of our kids are getting pretty good at it. 

by Sharath R., 6th grade

by Vinod R., 6th grade

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shanti Store, now open at Karunya Mane

The Shanti Store is now open at Karunya Mane! Actually, it's been open for a few months now, and gives the kids a chance to "buy" goodies and snacks that all kids like to get their grubby little hands on.
Getting ready to shop! Sadiq and Pavan are on duty today, and the boys are waiting nicely in line
(what? a line in India?) for their turn at the store counter.

This is little Jeevan, he's three years old (and really cute) and
attends a nice pre-KG Montessori school nearby.
Each child gets an allowance every month based on age (the oldest kids get 40 rupees, the youngest kids get 20 rupees). Bonus money (5 rupees) is given to kids whose behavior is exceptional during any given month. Disciplining occurs for kids who fail to do their homework (oh no!) -- a deduction of 5 rupees from one's allowance has occurred on certain occasions when one misbehaves.

Today, he decided to buy a candy bar. (The money is "KM Money," created by the kids themselves.)
Two of the older kids are on duty each weekend (Saturdays for the girls, Sundays for the boys) to sell items and record each transaction, including who spent how much on what.

Sadiq serves banana chips to Raju. Pavan records every transaction.
The Shanti Store offers the typical Indian sweet and savory snacks -- banana chips, chukkuli, cho-cho, chili-flavored corn flakes -- as well as, of course, various types of candies, chocolates, and other yummies.

Interesting patterns have emerged. The boys save their money each month in case special items are sold at the store -- last month, two of the boys were able to purchase watches with the money they saved! The girls do NOT save, spend their entire allowances each month, as they say, "oh I'll get more money next month, I'll just buy another piece of chocolate now." What's up with that?

So far, the store is a huge success and the kids absolutely love shopping! They eagerly wait until 5:00 pm, when the store opens, and are learning the value of money, consequences of one's actions, and tracking money and purchases.

If you're in Mysore and want to donate to our store inventory, we take any kind of kid-appropriate snack and goodie found in Mysore bakeries or provision stores, including inexpensive wallets, watches, bangles, necklaces, henna, bindis, fingernail polish... nothing too expensive -- we use actual market prices on our items!

Monday, September 10, 2012

God didn't rest on the 7th day (neither did Baxter)

Kendra and Baxter, two friends of our kids at Karunya Mane, started the project in San Francisco, raising money for a playground for KM. They tapped into their friends and family and their community at StarSeeds Preschool, which Kendra founded (because she loves kids).

Then, they looked around on the Web and found a great playground equipment vendor in Bangalore, and spent a few early mornings and late nights calling from San Francisco to coordinate the order. 

In early August, they flew halfway around the world, first arriving in Bangalore, where they stayed for a few days to check out the playground equipment factory, and then they drove over to Mysore.

On the day deemed "Day 1" by project manager-chief logistics coordinator Baxter, the equipment actually did arrive on schedule (no Indian time allowed at KM! ahem). 
Day 1 - The equipment arrived, and on schedule! That's Baxter in the light blue t-shirt, ordering everyone around to get things done quickly! (of course, he's speaking in English to the Indian workers, so we're not exactly sure what or how much they understood of his directions, but his style was impactful!)
Day 3 - Girls' playground.
The prior weekend, under Kendra's watchful eye, the kids painted the bricks that surround the playgrounds with their names, a very thoughtful idea of Kendra (she must be an educator?!?) to give the kids a sense that they contributed to putting the playground together.

Day 5 - Boys' playground. Getting there...
And finally, on Day 7, laying the grass was completed, the bricks were all in place, and all was completed -- on time, within budget, and with soooooo much excitement!

Day 7 - Boys' playground.
Seriously, doesn't it just look fabulous? I mean, what kid has a playground in his/her own front yard?!!

Day 7 - Girls' playground (and Sumitra hanging her clothes).
We aren't sure how such a wonderful gift came our way. Our kids are very fortunate to have friends like Kendra and Baxter. If you've ever met our kids, then you know that there is something special about them. Maybe it's that they come from such difficult backgrounds and social-economic hardships but continually prove to us that they can thrive and flourish when given the chance -- excelling in school, improving and refining their behavior to the point where, wow, we don't even recognize them sometimes ;-) and just, well, enjoying their childhood years. They attract such fabulous friends from around the world who remember them even after several years -- Kendra first met them several years ago on her trip to Mysore (!) -- these kids are really something else, as are their friends.

Come on over and check out the playgrounds!