Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 2012 CORDUSA News

Season's Greetings

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As the nation has become well aware, a tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut when a heavily armed 20-year-old gunman forced his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary school, and opened fire. Twelve girls, eight boys and six women were shot and killed. This act of violence shattered their once-tranquil suburban town, and all across the nation, we mourned for the needless loss of life. One of the victims was a young girl who had celebrated her seventh birthday just four days before her death. Let us offer our offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the tragic event.

On the other side of the globe, atrocities are happening everyday that pass unnoticed by the media and the general public. A Pakistani teenager, Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the Taliban in October for refusing to abandon her campaign for girls' education, and is now recovering in Britain. These issues need attention as well, and our responsibility as individuals is to make these events public knowledge and work towards solutions as a community.

Maggie Doyne is a recent high school graduate who travelled to Nepal where she used $5,000 in money she had saved from babysitting to open up an orphanage. She was profiled in the Brea Bala Vihar newsletter by Kartik Depala not too long ago. Maggie, who grew up in Mendham, New Jersey, built the orphanage, located in Surkhet, back in 2006, and she has also opened up the Kopila Valley Primary School, which she actively manages. Kartik rightfully observed that we should also try to do our best to help out and donate money and time to foundations who do ground level work like CORDUSA.

This time, there is a long list of accolades received by our organization:

Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda has been chosen by the South Indian Education Society (SIES) to receive the Shri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati National Eminence Award (NEA) for Spiritual Leadership. In honor of Shri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati, 68th Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, SEIS has been annually bestowing the NEA on his approximate aradhana day for the past 14 years to select Indian leaders and achievers who have devoted their lifetime to the causes of serving India and spreading Sanatana Dharma. The NEA Committee from the four fields of public leadership, community leadership or social service, science and technology, religious thought or prachara seva chooses recipients.  Congratulations Guruji!

Then, there is The Guardian's International Development Achievement Award. The Guardian, known until 1959 as The Manchester Guardian (founded 1821), is a very popular British national daily newspaper. The award aims to celebrate one individual for their contribution to the betterment of the lives of some of the world's poorest people. Five highly accomplished individuals were shortlisted for the award, and on November 22nd, Dr. Kshama Metre received the award in the UK!  Please visit our facebook page to see the write-up, video clip and more.  Congratulations Kshama Didi! 

CORDUSA won the "Top Rated Non-profit" award from GreatNonprofits. This puts CORDUSA on a list that is distributed during the holiday season to publications like The Huffington Post, Parade Magazine, and TakePart as well as two thousand corporations. Our top-rated badge is displayed on the GreatNonprofits site. This is all thanks to your amazing reviews and outreach!

In April, the Federation of Indian Chambers and Industry (FICCI) Coimbatore chapter awarded the Social service award to CORD Siruvani.  Established in 1927, FICCI is the largest and oldest apex business organization in India. A non-government, not-for-profit organization, FICCI is the voice of India’s business and industry.  Congratulations CORD Siruvani and Dr. Meera Krishna!

Recently, Hurricane Sandy took a toll all over the East Coast and the need for community outreach remains high. CORDUSA’s New York Chapter supported New York Cares' Coat Drive by collecting as many new or gently used coats as possible. There are many out there who are struggling and all too often have to choose between putting food on the table and purchasing a coat for winter. We are very glad to see their successful coat drive; they collected over 50 coats for the needy!

CORDUSA’s Princeton chapter received a very nice thank you letter from South Brunswick Social Services for the school supplies drive at the beginning of the school year. The School Supply Drive is to allow low-income students to get supplies for the school for the upcoming year. 

Princeton, Columbus, Boston, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor and New York centers did their annual Walk for CORD in this last quarter.  You can see the details of their respective walks and the amounts raised on our website under the "Events" section. We are very happy to see their enthusiasm and it has been a joy to work with them on the annual walks.

CORDUSA’s Portland chapter decided to donate the money raised by their Walk for CORD, approximately $15,545, to the CORD Lathikata facility. The facility is situated 25 km away from Rourkela – “the steel city” a major industrial hub in the state of Odisha. The scourge of malaria plagues the population and the health service facilities do not reach the remote villages. Water and electricity shortages, insufficient irrigation and unemployment are constant problems for the area.  The location of the Lathikata CORD office is less than ideal, with the surrounding roads in very poor condition and the general terrain being very rugged. The Portland branch of CORDAUSA put their money towards helping CORD Lathikata purchase a more reliable and safe transport for the center’s use.

Encouraged by this, CORDUSA’s New York Chapter came forward and sponsored laptops for Lathikata for $1500 out of their Walk for CORD funds, which was also badly needed.

We are grateful to our enthusiastic ambassadors and fundraiser!  Keep up the good work!

When people visit a CORD facility, they often wish to become more involved and spread the word about the excellent work the organization is doing. They each have their own stacks of photos and videos full of memories of all the people who’ve touched their hearts.  CORDUSA has now started its own YouTube channel which will enable us to archive and centralize all these videos in one place. You can view the videos through our webpage, under resources. If you have any edited videos to share, please send it to us at contact@cordusa.org.

In CORD Lathikata, efforts to improve sanitation have been in full swing.  After much discussion, twenty-five members of the Mahila Mandal came forward to clean a 150-meter long drain, which took about 5 hours.  This effort was then replicated in other parts where a 70 meter long drain along with a main road were cleaned by members of the Mahila Mandal and youth who were inspired by these acts. Read more...

At CORD Deuladiha, women’s empowerment remains on the top of the agenda.  Out of 101 self help groups, 68 were linked with the bank and received financial support for their small businesses, vegetable farms and other livelihood activities.  There has also been a growing emphasis on making women financially independent by conducting training programs and workshops to educate women on how to maintain their accounts and repay their loans.  Read more...

In CORD Kaza, shelter has recently been provided for 112 children, and it slowly grows into its own community.  As each month springs forth, they continue to build unity while sustaining our rich culture and tradition through celebrating festivals like Gurupurnima, Krishnashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi.  

The Chinmaya Vijaya Orphanage recently received a slew of gifts from two very generous young girls from Virginia (Sruthi Chennamaraja-12 years old and Neha Thawani-18 years old), both of whom donated all the gifts they received from their dance Arangetrams (debut on-stage performance of the dance) to the orphanage.  Read more...

In CORD Sri Lanka, thirty children participated in the “I Love Jaffna” photography exhibition, intended to help develop and promote civic pride and responsibility. Children were taught how to use cameras and compose meaningful photographs. They were then asked to take one photo of something in Jaffna that completed the phrase: “I love Jaffna because…”  The exhibition ran from August 14th to the August 16th during the Nallur festival. Due to public interest, each photo is now available in limited edition for purchase.  Read more...

At CORD Siruvani, promoting preventive medicine continues to be at the forefront. In Thennamanallur, CORD Siruvani arranged a medical camp, wherein roughly 130 men and women underwent cancer screenings. A similar cancer screening camp was organized by the Narasimhanayakanpalayam Mahila Mandal. There were 135 villagers who underwent pap smears and fine needle cystology testing and were referred to KMCH hospital for treatment. Additionally, two doctors from Ann Arbor, Michigan offered free medical services to 200 patients. Services included screenings for anemia, cardiac and respiratory diseases, blood pressure and blood sugar problems, as well as cardiovascular examinations. They also educated patients about the prevention of various illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer.  Read more...

Over at CORD Thamaraipakkam, the empowerment of rural children continues through skill-building programs, tuition centers and Bala Vihar programs. CORD is playing a significant role in helping rural children learn technical skills involving computers, and also provide a values-based education through the Bala Vihar groups. Tuition centers have also been organized to appraise each student’s fiscal needs. Currently there are 5 community-driven tuition centers, and parents are often motivated to support these centers since they provide safe and friendly learning environments for their children. They are also beginning to recognize the growing importance of such centers for the empowerment of future generations.  Read more...

Now let us take a peek at the upcoming activities of CORDUSA.

We will have our annual service visit in July-August 2013.  This is an opportunity for high school students enrolled in the Chinmaya Bala Vihars to travel to India and volunteer their time serving the needy.  These visits have been hugely popular in the past and because of the high demand, we decided to do two service visits this year.  I will give you a short preview, but you have to watch out for the announcement to apply for the spot as it gets filled out really fast!

The 1st service dates for Siddhbari will be July 10th to July 30th. This time is being exclusively reserved for the youth visiting from US. The maximum number of participants that can be accommodated is 30, which includes students and accompanying parents.

The 2nd service visit will be to Chinmaya Vijaya, the all girls orphanage in Kaza, Andhra Pradesh, India during the middle of August 2013. This visit will include volunteering at the adjacent NRI medical college, tutoring the girls and at the local schools. The total number of participants will be 20.  Please watch for the announcement, which will be out in the next 3-4 weeks.

Let us celebrate the season of giving with CORDUSA-Princeton chapter!  We invite you, your family and friends to the Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser & Celebrate the season of giving on Saturday December 22 2012 4:30 PM at Montogery High School Auditorium, Princeton.

CORDUSA-Portland is planning a different kind of New Year celebration this year. This January 1st, they will be cooking and serving Indian food for upto 90 over at the local homeless shelter.

CORD Thamariapakkam is using their new sewing unit to make pouches and pencil cases in fabric and denim with patterns of Gurudev's OM stitched in the front. Pictures will be published of their product for you to promote in your Bala Vihar or camps.

At CORD Sidhbari the first phase of the construction of the training center will be commencing shortly as donors form all over the world have pitched in to help.

There are 1.4 million non-profit organizations registered as charities in the United States, or approximately 1 for every 300 people, according to a 2009 article by Paul Lamb that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor.  Whether you have a job or are looking to gain new skills before going back into the work force, these are the top ten reasons why charity work is good for everyone:

CORD works because of you. We look forward to your continuing support.  My big thanks to Shabana Dipchand, Paulomi Campbell and Gautam Varma for helping me with this newsletter. 

We hope you have a Happy, Healthy and Harmonizing Holidays and New Year!  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, I am just an email away.

Thank you,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 2012 CORDUSA News

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My son Kapil and I had an amazing trip this summer that took us into the heart of rural communities in India. 

  • We met a 17-year-old girl who is a little taller than 3 feet and looks like a toddler because of nutritional issues and health conditions.
  • We met with Kanchana, a disabled lady who needs to be carried by her mother even to the bathroom, but kept smiling and knitting beautiful bags through her hardships.  
  • We went to school in a slum where the teachers bathed, fed and readied every student they taught!  

Slum-settlement in Kangra Valley
How can I complete this newsletter without talking about these incredible people I met?  But first, let us look at the activities across CORD.

CORD Sri Lanka adopts a school in Tharmapuram, Killinochi. In one of the most affected areas by war, where the primary focus is survival, CORD takes an extra initiative to help provide education for children in the community. They have started teaching English and providing children with after-school snacks and sports equipment. They are continuously working with the school to continue further development.  Read more

CORD Siruvani continues to promote health. During the last quarter, approximately 1000 patients were examined and treated for various illnesses along with approximately 150 villagers who received vaccination against Hepatitis B.  They also held an immunization camp for children where around 70 of them received MMR vaccine and an eye camp where 40 patients were examined, 11 of which were taken for cataract surgery.  Read more

CORD Thamaraipakkam facilitated the State Government’s Farmer’s Awareness’ camp at Vadhatur Panchayat where several government departments participated and explained their schemes to the farmers.  Some of the departments present were: agriculture, horticulture, department of certification of quality of seeds and revenue department. The knowledge and expertise received during this training will undoubtedly raise the standards of farming in the area. Read more

As one of India’s largest challenges is nutritional security, CORD Deuladhiha’s mission is to provide regular access to nutritional food by educating and empowering local farmers. This priority has led CORD Deuladhiha to introduce the cultivation of the paddy system under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). CORD Deuladhiha has prompted for paddy under SRI in 20 hectors of land and paddy under line transportation in 100 hectors of land by 276 farmers.   Read more ….

Swami Kevalananda joined CORD Lathikata and conducted a health awareness program in various villages as part its mission to improve the quality of health care in rural India. Swamiji educated people on a healthy lifestyle, including proper food habits, hygiene, yoga, pranayam, and overall health.  He discussed alternative medicine practices that use local herbs, shrubs and plants to cure many diseases if applied according to the ayurvedic system of medicine. Swamiji also distributed ayuverdic medicines to ailing patients at no cost.  Read more

Service Visit groupwith Didi
When we hear the accounts of individuals who complete a CORD Service visit to Sidhbari we can feel the tremendous impact CORD has made on the lives of so many.  A group of individuals were able to partake in this unique opportunity this summer. They witnessed CORD Sidhbari’s long-standing goal to empower women, children, and the disabled. Seeing such selfless work changed many of them as they realized that true service requires one to go above and beyond oneself for the greater good of all.  Read more on our facebook page.

As I wrote earlier, my son and I did an incredible journey this summer.  It started with CORD Siruvani located in Thennamanallur, one of the villages in the Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu.  The CORD program there is headed by Dr. Meera Krishna who received accolades for her selfless service recently by The Hindu, (see here).  She took us to the medical camp and her clinic in Thennamanallur.  I got to interact with the CORD health assistants and while there, Kapil taught the Bala Vihar children how to draw a portrait.

At Mullangadu
Later in our travels, we went to Puthur, and visited the tribal village of Mullangadu.  It's in Mullangadu, where we met the 3-foot-17-year-old girl with sickle cell anemia.  Meera akka told me that she used to run away and hide. It took them a few visits to make her feel more at ease and help her understand that they were well-wishers.

Our next adventure was trying to get to Sidhbari.  It's a small town situated in the foothills of the Dhauladhar Mountains, about six kilometers from Dharamshala and about 15 kilometers from McLeodGanj where the 14th Dalai Lama lives.  The last time I went there, there was a flight that would take you from Delhi to Dharamshala. Well…not any more.  Kapil and I had an eventful train ride from Old Delhi to Pathankot in Punjab.  CORD Sidhbari received us from Pathankot for the 2-hour ride to the center.

Kshama didi
Of course, you all know of Dr. Kshama Metre.  She was bestowed the Padma Shri by Indian government in 2008 in honor of her magnanimous work.  It's always such an incredible experience meeting and talking with Kshama didi.  Her wisdom and maturity enthralls you.  Her name is shortlisted in “The Guardian International Development Achievement Award”, please take a moment to cast your vote at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/achievementsaward/guardian-international-development-achievement-award-nominees

Explaining how vermicompost works
While at Sidhbari, I visited the Jhiyol and Sakoh Jatehad Panchayats to get a glimpse of CORD’s programs.  When I was visiting the Panchayats, Kapil stayed back at the CORD facility, making Kangra paintings with the hearing impaired youth group and bead necklaces with the disabled children. 

Wherever I went - be it a women’s group, farmer’s group or a Panchayat member’s house, we were received with tea, mangoes, biscuits and crackers!  We were at one farmer’s place looking at his Vermin compost when I told him I really cannot have any more tea. He gestured to his wife and she quickly came offering me a big steel tumbler full of milk! 

She invited us to play with her
Later, we visited CORD Thamaraipakkam, a small village tucked 29 kilometers away from Chennai.  CORD Thamaraipakkam is headed by Mr. PN Kannan, a quiet man who becomes very eloquent and caring when it comes to CORD programs and the participants.  There, we went to see Pakkam Tailoring Center, set up by the ladies and young girls trained from CORD center, and then we continued on to Sivanvoyal and Nelvoy Hamlets to talk to the self-help groups.  There we saw a woman's group and a disabled group screen printing and making paper bags that are given out by Chinmaya Publications.  Kapil was very fascinated while watching and he learned how to make the paper bags.  It is in Nelvoy that I met Kanchana.
Making paper bags

While in India, I also had a chance to discuss and exchange notes with Mona Malkani, who works at the CORD Head office in Delhi.

After the trip, both Kapil and I came back with many memories and little trinkets we started collecting from everywhere.  We felt blessed having an opportunity to see these incredible people.  Someone told me, it's about making a difference in the lives of the people we meet, however, I feel, it is about meeting the people making the difference in their lives!

My big thanks to Shabana and Paulomi for helping me with the newsletter.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, I am just an email away.

Thank you

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 2012 CORDUSA News

Summer is in full swing and roses are in full bloom here in Portland. What a spectacular sight!  Hope you are all having a great summer so far too.

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This quarter we have a lot to talk about the CORD activities around the world.  I encourage you to read the annual report and quarterly reports by our CORD centers in India and Sri Lanka at http://www.cordusa.org to get the full perspective of the work that is going on.

CORD Sidhbari’s mission is to EMPOWER! How is it that as of March 31st, 2012 CORD Sidhabari has spread its area of operation to 531 villages? By strengthening these village communities to be the agents of change through a variety of programs such as the Mahila Mandals. As of March 31st there are over 543 Mahila Mandals in more than 531 villages. Some highlights of the progress made within the Mahila Mandals include women rallying against the opening of an illegal wine shop, as well as a donation of RS.81,700 for various social causes such as marriage, illness treatment, and funerals. Mahila Mandals are also conducting Bala Vihar activities benefiting 3,103 children from ages 6-14.

CORD Siruvani is all about preventative health! Around 4,000 patients have undergone pap smears and blood cholesterol tests, as well as 500 patients completing their Hepatitis B vaccinations. Dental awareness continues to be a strong initiative of CORD Siruvani with more than 400 villages being screened for dental caries, oral cancer, and other problems.

As part of an awareness campaign, CORD Thamaraipakkam organized career guidance workshops for 10th and 11thgraders. Renowned personalities from a variety of fields gave motivating presentations and guidance to the students.  Computer training classes are also offered to a total of 1203 children. A 6-month course is offered on Microsoft Applications and Tally where students are given an exam at the end of the course and successful candidates are given certificates.

CORD Delauhida creates awareness among young adolescent women.  The Yuvati mandal now has a membership of 128 young women. Through CORD, they are educated about the challenges faced by women at different levels of growth.

CORD Kaza, Chinmaya Vijaya girls orphanage, takes education to the next step.  CORD now engages private tutors who impart special coaching to our children who need to improve their grades in certain subjects.  This will help them clear their exams and be promoted to the next higher class.

CORD Lathikata showers new growth. The lift irrigation point at Lohadar which has been non-operational for the past two years is now back in action due to CORD Lathikata’s intervention.  Because of this, around 20 acres of land will be brought under irrigation.
Many of you are aware of the recently concluded civil war in Sri Lanka. This has left hundreds of individuals devastated, homeless and often hopeless. The most vulnerable of these are the children, orphans who are innocent victims of this decade’s long conflict.

CORD Sri Lanka has been very active working with these destitute children, bringing emergency relief to the war hit areas. Now we are also actively involved in the rehabilitation and recovery of these innocent children’s lives.

We have an ongoing child sponsorship program which is $360 per year. This covers his/her ALP (Accelerated Learning Programs), providing uniforms and school kits, daily nutritious food including milk, medical check-ups, and vitamin and mineral supplements for the child.  Once a child is matched we will send you the detailed profile of the child and a yearly progress report. We hope that you will be inspired to help. Please contact me and I will be happy to help you.  CORD Sri Lanka is also able to organize fun activities over the weekends and counseling and motivational sessions to the students and their families.

Now let us talk about the happenings in our hemisphere.

CORDUSA Atlanta Chapter did a "Walk for CORD" and raised $5K. Within the past year, in addition to the CORD walk-a-thon, they organized blood donation drives, food drives, and various other community service projects. Encouraged by the enthusiastic support of its member families, CM Atlanta is now planning several exciting community service projects in future under the auspice of CORDUSA.

Hunger can take both a physical and emotional toll on those it inflicts. Beyond the physical effects, food insecurity wears away one’s self worth.  CORDUSA enthusiasts from Los Angeles have started a program called "Brown Bag Brigade" where each Saturday, they get together, make peanut butter sandwiches and pack them in brown bags filled with other foods like bananas, juice, nuts, chips etc and feed the homeless in a park near the ashram in Tustin.  We are also happy to report that Los Angeles Walk for CORD brought in $13.5K this year.

CORDUSA Portland Chapter did their 6th annual "Walk for CORD" and brought in $13.5K.  This year they offered "CORD Cafe & Spa" services.  The participants had lots of fun enjoying tea, snacks and channa jor garam while waiting for their massage and eyebrow treatments. All proceeds went to CORDUSA.  It was a fun and memorable event.

A new CORDUSA Chapter was established at University of Miami under Ansh Grover's leadership. 

CM Halton Region did a very successful CORD Sri Lanka fundraiser. They also visited Jaffna CORD site to discuss possibilities.

The Chicago CORD fundraiser banquet was organized by Chicago CHYKs and it brought in $80K net!  This money is raised specifically for the CORD Sidhbari training center. With its 27-year journey, so far Dr. Kshama Metre has nurtured a comprehensive rural development program in 550 villages of Himachal Pradesh. This work has been replicated since 2003 under the aegis of CORD in other parts of the country beginning with two sites in Odisha, two sites in Tamil Nadu and one orphanage in Andhra Pradesh. We are striving hard to expand this work so it may benefit many people, especially those who are beyond reach and in underserved rural areas of the country.  CORD is also focusing on training a batch of ‘foot-soldiers’ and ‘foot-commanders’ who are willing to serve rural India through this experiential learning program.  To build this center of excellence in experiential learning in holistic rural development, CORD will need to expand its training facility.  This one-time investment in construction of its vision center in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh will benefit many more from different walks of life like development professionals, volunteers, interns, government functionaries, NGOs, and program beneficiaries. By transforming such groups into resource people, we will expand the group of people who are willing to serve, learn and contribute in rural India.  The creation of this facility will require approximately $1.2M. 

CHYKs from Pittsburgh are doing something out of the ordinary. They decided to purchase bags from CORD's Self Help groups for their CHYK camp!  Check out the picture of the bag on the cover!  If you have such camps coming up, this is a way to create something beautiful and help our Self Help groups. It's a win-win situation!

The Junior CHYK service visit team is now at Sidhbari. I am sure they will have their exciting stories to report for our next newsletter. For more information about service visits, please visit http://www.cordusa.org/index.php/about-us/68-servicevisits, You can also view a video presentation compiled by participants at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk5CFAKHqTw.  We usually have at least one service visit for High School students a year.  As these get filled fast, please sign up to receive the newsletters so that you can apply as soon as it is announced and avoid disappointments.

Inspired by the success of our Junior CHYKs service visits, CHYKs are organizing a service visit this year under the leadership of Apurva Bhatt. They are going to CORD Kaza, Chinmaya Vijaya Orphanage in December and will be teaching the girls basic computer skills and English.  The dates are set on December 23rd to 31st. For more information, please go to http://www.cordusa.org/index.php/about-us/68-servicevisits or send a mail to Apurva at chyk2012@cordusa.org

Over the last 3 years of its existence, CORDUSA has gotten numerous requests from donors to apply for Matching Grants.  We want to thank all those donors who help us maximize the impact of your donations. Many companies sponsor matching gift programs that contribute to their employees’ philanthropic interests.  Your company may be one of them. If your employer offers such a program, please request a matching gift form from your employer and send it, completed, signed and scanned to subha@cordusa.org.

I want to thank my two great helpers in putting together the newsletter, Paulomi Campbell and Shabana Dipchand. They make it fun and productive!

I am very excited about my summer trip to India, where I get to go visit Tamaraipakkam, Siruvani and Sidhbari! I will write about it on my next blog.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, I am just an email away...

Have a safe and fun summer…

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 2012 CORDUSA News

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After the December newsletter went out, we announced the 2012 Summer Service visit in January.  This summer the children and the parent chaperones are going to CORD Sidhbari to volunteer for 2 weeks.  We were overwhelmed with the enthusiastic responses we received!  The slots got filled well before the deadline and now we are all set with 35 students and 6 parent chaperones for our July service visit.  We wish them a pleasant trip, and will hear about their experiences after they get back in August!  There were some disappointed students and parents who were not able to secure a spot this year.  But we’ll be sure to have another opportunity for them next year!

A new year always brings new challenges. It offers a new start – a determination to change one’s diet, give up a bad habit or take up a difficult new activity! New Year draws a line in the sand, one that many relish for the chance to start afresh.  For us, it is time to look back and assess our progress.

Last year in review. In 2011, various centers did fundraising for CORD USA and brought in $201K!!  This is up from 2010’s number $143K.  We want to recognize the efforts of these centers in bringing awareness and funds for the less fortunate ones.  A big thank you to (numbers rounded off to 100’s):

New Jersey, Philadelphia & Bridgewater - $51,000
Ann Arbor - $40,000
Chicago - $1,700 (Marathon) $20,000 (Empowering through Music)
Los Angeles - $17,800
Boston - $15,000
Minneapolis - $13,200
Portland - $12,500
Miami - $12,000
Columbus – 8,500
Kansas City - $3,600
Austin - $2,900 (Kite festival)
Atlanta - $2,400
Buffalo - $1,000

This has only been possible because of your continuous support and commitment to CORDUSA. Let’s keep it up!  You can review last year’s list and numbers here.

I mentioned in my last newsletter about the “Chinmaya Inspiration Yatra” led by Acharya Vivek Gupta.  One of the places they visited was CORD Siruvani.  Moved by the quiet work that is relentlessly going on there, CHYK Toronto did a one of a kind CHYK Retreat in February, "Starving for Service" conducted by Swamini Sivapriyananda and Acharya Vivek, where participants fasted for 40 hours at Chinmaya Dhara (Niagara Falls, Ontario) as a means of conserving their physical and mental energy and directing this towards greater societal development in the villages of Siruvani in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. They raised $14,000!!  

Service is Vedanta in action, we are continuing to make a difference in the local communities in USA.

Pranji Lodhia, my co-Board of Director at CORDUSA, presented about CORD during the India Development Coalition of America (IDCA) conference at Milipitas.  India West did a write up about the conference and about CORD, please see India West news.

CORD USA Princeton chapter under Chinmaya Vrindavan is partnering with World Cares to help local communities affected by disasters like Hurricane Irene. Lisa Orloff, the founder and Executive Director of the World Cares center did a training seminar on understanding and implementing disaster relief and recovery efforts for CORD USA, Princeton chapter on October 16, 2011. For more information on the World Cares organization, visit www.worldcares.org

CORDUSA DC chapter in Virginia began a monthly drive to help cook and serve food at the homeless shelter in their community. It was priceless to see the smiles on the faces of our children when they engaged in this noble service of spreading warmth and love to those who need it the most. The joys and rewards of Seva are contained in itself and these pictures hold proof of that timeless Truth.  View pictures here.

CORDUSA Princeton Chapter did a winter coat and clothes drive in December.  Items were donated to TASK - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. 

Learning is a process we do on an everyday basis, one way to feel it is by experiencing. Chinmaya Bala Vihar, Little Rock, AR, collected food and other items and donated them to the Arkansas Food bank.

CORDUSA Portland chapter, collected food, worked as volunteers for more than 150 hours as well as donated $1000 to the Oregon Food Bank. The Food Bank describes that with its purchasing power, it is able to get the equivalent of $ 8 of food for every $1 that is donated.

Did you know that Los Angeles Downtown has the most homeless people in US?  Los Angeles Chinmaya Bala Vihar did homeless feeding and a Christmas toy drive to put their Bala Vihar teachings into action.  Children took the initiative of making a difference in a child's life during the holiday season by collecting a toy from every child in their Bala Vihar and donating it to the Fire Station, which in turn will be given to the needy children, who cannot afford a toy.

Now let us touch on the news from our CORD centers in India and Sri Lanka

CORD Deuladiha extends its arms even further. During the last quarter, CORD Deuladiha has set up four new Mahila Mandals which increased the membership base from 856 households to 935 households, four new Self-Help groups and two new Yuvati Mandals! Way to go!  Read more

CORD Kaza brings home the gold! In the last quarter, the children were encouraged to participate in an Inter School Sports Competition where all the gold medals were won by the children of Chinmaya Vijaya in Long Jump, High Jump, 100M and 400M running competitions!  Read more….

CORD Lathikata inaugurates a new building! A building comprising of a dining hall, five residential rooms and a kitchen was inaugurated on October 5, 2011 with a paduka pooja of Pujya Gurudev. Swami Kevalananda presided over this auspicious occasion and blessed CORD Lathikata with continued dedication in its mission to serve the tribal people of the area.  Read more….

CORD Siruvani promotes preventive medicine. Over 1,000 patients between October through December were given Hepatitis B vaccination, pap smears, as well as information on life-style modifications for high cholesterol and other preventable diseases. Special eye camps in collaboration with the Eye Foundation and Sankara Eye Center treated over 250 patients, with some receiving cataract surgeries as well as other interventions. Dental screenings and treatment camps continue to provide excellent care to the patients. Read more….

CORD Thamaraipakkam visits CORD Siruvani! During the visit, members of CORD Thamaraipakkam met with several members of CORD Siruvani to learn about their procedures and activities. CORD Thamaraipakkam met with the Farmers’ Club and discussed about forming cluster groups such as: paddy groups, sugarcane groups etc, in order to share agricultural knowledge amongst farmers.  Read more….

CORD Sri Lanka takes education to the next level. They facilitated a two-day workshop conducted by Swami Ramakrishnananda and Brahmacharini Mahima Chaitanya with a participation of 605 teachers! The emphasis of this workshop was the Chinmaya Vision Program (CVP) which focuses on four key areas of child development: physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual. Read more….

I was in India in January and I collected some interesting tidbits during my visit which I want to share with you all…

I was in Hyderabad, I had the good fortune to see some handicraft work done by rural women under Hyderabad Chinmaya Seva Trust, which got my attention.  Exploring further, I came across the tireless work that is being done by Brahmacharini Sulabha Chaitanya, quietly empowering the local women through threads and needles.  Please read more here.

In order to help with the livelihood opportunities for young girls from rural Andhra Pradesh, "Chinmaya Swasti" is offering a Special Health Care Assistants training program where the trainees will be able to attend to the needs of elderly, the sick, physically challenged people apart from post-operative and neonatal requirements. The training is for three months including practical training of two months in a recognized hospital. To find out the ways you can help, please see here.

Big thanks to Paulomi Campbell and Shabana Dipchand for their help with the newsletter!

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, I am just an email away...

Thank you!