Well, it has been three weeks since I arrived here in Mysore and I must say I have made some progress. This is very exciting, especially considering that this is not a country that works at a New York City pace (or even a Savannah, Georgia pace for that matter!).
So, here is what is happening and what steps are next:
Today I made my fourth visit to Asha Kirana, an HIV clinic here in Mysore. On the second and fourth Sundays of each month, HIV positive children come from all over India to get blood tests and medicines. By 11 am the waiting room is full of kids and their guardians waiting for their turn to see the doctor. To ease their anxiety during this time I have started teaching them yoga. They are very receptive and even excited to practice yoga together. Afterward they are so quiet and calm. They all crowd around to say personal thank yous and shake my hand. It’s an outpouring of love that is beyond anything I have earned.
The program is so successful that Asha Kirana would like to make it an ongoing practice. I will be here through March, but am looking for someone to come with me and continue to teach when I am gone. I am also looking for yoga mats so that each child can practice properly. Many of the yoga students here leave their mats when they return home. I am hoping they will donate these used mats to the Asha Kirana program. Another option is to donate the cost of a new mat. They are sold here for Rs 250 or about $6.25. I have set up a table at OM Cafe here in Mysore so that students who leave after breakfast can make a donation on their way out. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to buy a child a yoga mat. I will send you updates on the child you have sponsored.
A slightly more complicated project is to set up a sewing organization for women in need of employment. My hope is that they will eventually make mat bags that will be sold at the shala, as well as cloth shopping bags that will replace the plastic so many use to carry their fruits and vegetables. This is going to require workspace, sewing machines, materials, and hard workers, but it can be done.
Finally, I am also helping Chethana Trust, a mental health facility, to sell their chocolates. These goodies are made by the mentally challenged and the profits go towards making these men and women financially independent. They take great pride in their work and look forward to becoming productive members of the community as their earnings come in. So far Anu’s, Tina’s lunch place, and Edelweiss Austrian Cafe have agreed to sign on. I am also in negotiations with a wholesaler who may sell the chocolates as gifts for corporate events.
As you can see, there is a lot to be done. Not everyone can get away for long periods of time, or part with large sums of money, but everyone can contribute something, whether it be time, knowledge, or helping to form a new connection. Pick one thing you are good at and make a pledge to make a difference!