After 7 years of going back and forth from the US to India, I have grown to love the little, dirty, brown eyed, brown haired orphan children that I have come to know. In the orphanages throughout India you can be a nurse, mother, grandmother, teacher, barber, cook, councilor, friend, auntie, sister and cousin all rolled into one! They have filled my life with great joy and satisfaction. Most importantly, I have learned that we are all brothers and sisters on this earth and each individual is very important to God.
My first trip to India was exciting, breathtaking, eye-opening, and full of new tastes and experiences. I knew that God wanted me to go to India but I had no idea why. I was so blessed to be able to take along my brother John for he was a great support and companion.(he killed all the incredibly big spiders that I could not bring myself to kill in the house.)
We traveled to Himacheal Predesh with an NGO called Cross-cultural Solutions where we spent 2 weeks in the village schools teaching English to elementary age children.
Before we went to Himacheal Predesh, John and I met a couple, Ray and Beverley Cavanaugh from America, in Delhi who were serving a humanitarian service mission for the LDS church and they invited us to stay with them after our placement with CCS. We had been searching for some service opportunities that we could do after our placements and the Lord answered our prayers. We spent the next 2 1/2 months working in the slums, with other NGO's and teaching English to the children and teachers in a resettlement colony. Everyday was busy and full of adventures especially with Pa and Ma Cavanaugh for they knew how to get the most out of every experience and made us laugh constantly.
Pa and Ma Cavanaugh
Cold in Delhi?!? YES!
2004: Nepal and South India
After my first trip to India, I was hooked and returned shortly after I got back to America but this time with two other brothers, Covey and Joseph. This trip turned out to be different than we had expected.
Joseph, Kt and Covey at the Bhai Temple.
Activities with children of HIV parents.
We did not stay in Delhi as we had supposed but felt prompted to travel. First destination was Nepal...
It was a long, back breaking trip by bus, rickshaw and train.
We met wonderful people and volunteered at Bal Mandir orphanage in Kathmandu. It's interesting to note that the orphanage is run in a big palace which the queen donated for the poor and needy. We had a great time with the toddlers.
Soon we were back on the road headed to Calcutta to see Mother Teresa's home for the destitute. She is an inspiration to me. For some odd reason I never got any pictures of Mother Teresa's home..sorry.
Queen Victoria's palace
Largest Bunyan tree in India
The next place we felt inspired to go was Tamil Nadu. While in Delhi I had met some of the most wonderful and selfless people, one of which was Floyd and Beulah Martin. They were also serving as a humanitarian couple for the LDS church but in the city, Coimbatore.
We decided to go and visit them for a week. They are the ones who introduced us to Families for Children orphanage(FFC) which has since then become a second home. Everyday we played with the children from morning until night. They exhausted us!!
They never run out of energy!
Duck Duck Goose was the most popular game everywhere we went.
We loved being with the children so much that we ended up staying at the orphanage for one month. The director of the project, Sandra Simpson from Canada, let us help out with some of her projects as well. Under her direction, we started a paper making project for the post polio boys who were living at the orphanage. They make greeting cards out of the waste paper and embroider flowers and pictures on them.
When we finally ran out of steam we returned to Delhi and packed up and went home. We felt our trip was over and that we had accomplished our mission. At the time we were not sure what our mission really was other than playing duck duck goose about a hundred times with every child we could find on and off the streets but we felt that God was pleased with our efforts.
India took a back seat for a couple years and then as if out of nowhere I began feeling the travel bug again and knew it was time to return to India.
2007: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
This time around we thought we would try something new. I took Joseph and Seth with me and we headed to a new city we felt good about but had no idea what we would be doing there. We went in faith that the Lord would show us what we needed to do once we got there.
We had a bit of a rough start, first of all because it was May, the hottest time of the year and secondly because we were unable to immediately find what we were looking for....a place to serve those in need!
It's so hot!
After searching high and low for 2 weeks the Lord led us to the right place. We found the right project for us. We moved to one of the Don Bosco hostels which is a home for street boys and girls and they were in the process of relocating to a new home.
This is the best way to travel.
Boy's hostel under construction
We got settled in and helped organize the daily routine for the boys. We had about 70 boys from the ages of 4 to 24. They are all street boys and girls who were picked up by police or Don Bosco staff who spend countless hours patroling around the train stations in search of lost boys and girls. We had some really challenging experiences with these street children but grew very close to many of them. I will never forget them.
Girls home: Cleaning the walls
How does it taste Joseph?
Building our own hostel
Dedicated Catholic Father
Other volunteers from heaven.
Driving rules: monkey see, monkey do!
Don Bosco Ambu Illam
2007: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Never enough!!! After I returned from Chennai, I turned around and went back to India to volunteer at Families for children(FFC). I worked with some wonderful and dedicated people from Canada and they are an integral part of my experiences there. I felt like FFC was the place for me and soon became one of the family. I volunteered in all areas of the project and became Katie sister to all of the children. I spent the next 3 years at FFC. We organized many projects for the children and one of the highlights was a summer camp for the children which ran from morning till night. We arranged activities, skill building projects and work for the children. We also started a Learning center for the teenagers to primarily teach them English and prepare them for their +2 exams(12 grade). I learned so much from the children, in fact, they have changed me forever.
Paper project still up and running 3 years later.
Goat cheese project...
I was a temporary warden for the big girls for a few months.
I love boys home!
I had a visit from John, Kimball and David. We never stopped laughing for 3 months.
My brother's project was to build a patio attached to the canteen where staff and volunteers can sit and eat.
The girls will never find you up there David..you're safe!
Wherever there are boys there is also wrestling.
We made sure to take all the children swimming at least once
We had work projects galore!
Shooting bottle rockets
Cooking and eating was everyones' favorite past time.
Celebrating all the festivals, theirs and ours!
I think we played every game in the book over the years
Fixing up FFC
More work projects..taking down an old water tower.
KT's learning center
I love my job!
Another season has come to a close and I am back home with my family to help with the music but India is not yet over. I have plans or maybe I should say "dreams" of starting my own orphanage in the near future. As you can see, I have been so blessed over the years and have learned so much from all my friends around the world. They have helped me to be a better person and increased my love for God's children. All my thanks goes to my Heavenly Father who has been at the head of it all for I know that I could not have done it alone...He has been my guide, protector, financier, and director. God is Good!!
If you are not tired of the photos then you will like the slideshow. I put together a slideshow that shows more of the things I have done in India. I think I am the one who likes to watch it the most!
"..when you are in the service of your fellow beings
you are only in the service of your God."