This is small orphanage in Kerala, my place of birth in India, which I visited in Oct 2017 with the group of 17 travelers from the US. I grew up in an orphanage myself in the same area in India (after I lost my mother when I was 7). I found the children at Saandhwanam happy, confident, and loved by the few women who take care of them and really encourage them to achieve their educational goals.

The children are brought up in a pluralistic environment exposed to all the major religions of India. We had the privilege of joining them for their evening gratitude hour which started with the sacred diya (oil lamp) lighting and went on to chanting from various scriptures. We were totally mesmerized. We felt both cleansed and energized to move on to the next activities starting from distributing small gifts and chocolates we had brought for them, to games, photo sessions, to dancing to Bollywood music. Truly an enchanting evening.

Sadly it was quickly their bedtime and time for us to start loading 7-8 of us at a time into my brother’s SUV which made several trips to our bus which was parked a mile away as the roads in the village were too narrow.

This independent organization with 21 children is solely supported by a local bank and the local rotary club who provide them with a building to rent and food. The educational and medical needs of the children are totally supported by donors. I know we can make a direct impact on these girls’ future as well as make a connection. I plan to visit them again and check on their progress when I visit my family.