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,
Subha