Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 2014 CORDUSA News

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It has been a while since I have written to you about CORD happenings around the world, so we have much to catch up on!

CORDUSA would like to request you to write a review of CORD to raise visibility for our work. GreatNonprofits is honoring highly reviewed nonprofits with their 2014 Top-Rated List. We have had the privilege of being listed as one of the Great Nonprofits in 2012 and 2013 and with your support, hope to continue to be recognized. All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. Please go to http://greatnonprofits.org/org/cord-usa-1 to get started!

Rajesh Desingu was planning to run the New York City Marathon when he had the opportunity to meet CORDUSA NY organizers He then decided to partner with them and dedicate his Marathon run to raise funds for CORD SriLanka!  Way to go Rajesh!

Kamya Chandra, High School sophomore from Portland, Oregon, will be doing her Bharaanatya Arangetram on Saturday, Oct 18 2014.  She has requested all of her well-wishers that, rather than giving any gifts for her, that they donate to Chinmaya Vijaya through CORDUSA .  We are very proud of you Kamya!

Sanjana Srinivasan, 8th grader and owner of ‘Frosted World, Cupcakes for a Cause’ bakery in New Jersey has been baking cakes, cupcakes, and cookies for a cause since she was 11 years old. She donates all her profits to CORD. Last year she donated $1,588.50 to CORD. WOW! This year she has put a goal of another $1,500 for 2015 of which she already collected $335 and she keeps baking here.
tirelessly! Help Support Sanjana and Frosted World by ordering from them. For more info see: www.frostedworld.com and read her blog here.

CORDUSA-Kedar held a successful Walkathon at the Playwicki Farm in Langhorne, PA on September 20th.  Please see the pictures here.

CORDUSA-American University volunteers spent their time and services in CORD Thamaraipakkam for 6 weeks from May 18th to the end of June. During this time they visited many villages, met and interacted with our beneficiaries, conducted English classes, visited differently-abled children, painted classrooms, and helped organized Women’s Empowerment and Girl’s Empowerment events. –all in one Summer’s work!

CORDUSA-Raleigh had a great turnout for their 5K Run on August 9th. 120 participants, 40 volunteers and the Mayor - all came out despite the rain!  It all started off with a rain dance, words by the Mayor and grace. The sponsors provided bread, smoothies, massages, face painting and origami tables for kids. It was a fun event that everyone really enjoyed. - and it was covered by TV Asia news!  Watch the clip here.

CORDUSA - Globemed GROW Team of Boston College spent three weeks this past August
learning and working alongside staff and volunteers at CORD Siruvani. Globemed is excited and ready to start their second year of a strong partnership between their organization and CORD USA!

Shivali Marwaha and Sid Chawla, both students at Langley High School in MacLean, Virginia, organized a Bollywood Bash dance with 5 other area clubs in June and raised $500 for CORD in an event that brought out students from across Northern Virginia. They hired an Indian DJ, had a photo booth, and henna tattoo booth. All had a great time! For details please read here.

Geetha Somayajula donated her high school graduation gifts to CORDUSA in June and got a big hug from Guruji! Read her exclusive interview here!

Chethan Anant had a flute & vocal concert on June 22nd in Chicago. He also did something very special, he asked everyone to donate in the name of CORD USA instead of giving him a gift! He collected over $4,000 in donation for this event! Way to go Chethan!

CORDUSA-Bridgewater organized their first Walkathon on May 18th 2014. Bridgewater-Basting Ridge North Jersey Balavihar planned and participated in a walk-a-thon on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. They had a successful event, receiving much kudos from participants.

CORDUSA- Minnesota organized two back-to-back walkathons on May 10th and 11th in Chaska and St.Paul respectively. They raised a combined $18K! Chaska Balavihar students themselves raised $900 by selling sandwiches. With just 3 weeks to prepare they made CORD logo water bottles and healthy sandwiches for lunch. One student, Neeta, raised $830 selling jewelry. St. Paul Balavihar students got together for a Mother’s day picnic and combined it with the CORD walk-a-thon to raise money.


The Consulate General of India, New York in association with the CORDUSA NY chapter organized a guitar recital by Mr. Ravi Iyer on May 09, 2014. It was a memorable experience for the guests who during the concert were also given a presentation by Ms. Supriya Krishnakumar and Mr. William Burke highlighting CORD’s efforts in improving the lives of people in Indian villages.

CORDUSA Alpharetta organized a 5K walkathon on Saturday morning, April 19, 2014, at South Forsyth Middle School, Cumming, Georgia, in support of the CORD activities. They had food, music, Zumba dance, and several vendor showcases during the event.  The walk was sponsored by several organizations such as Suvidha, AT&T, Datum Software, Smile Magic Dentistry, and many more. Approximately 450 participants registered for this event and generously donated for the noble cause.

CORD USA-Sacramento participated in the annual Mustard Seed Spin, the 20K bike ride for the school for homeless kids in Sacramento on September 28th. Look forward to hearing about the details from CORD USA -Sacramento!

Now let us look at the CORD Centers in India and Sri Lanka.

In August I had the opportunity to visit the construction site for CORD Siruvani.  It is coming up beautifully and I was so thankful to all our donors (special mention to the “Steps to Siruvani by CM Niagara Falls).  See the construction photos here.


CORD Deuladiha is for youth empowerment. They have facilitated the formation of 14 Yuvati Samooh with a totoal of 146 members. Youth members meet monthly and have completed a variety of awareness projects in the community. For example, youth have cleaned a community pond in the village of Deuladiha. CORD Deuladiha has also provided tailoring training to 52 adolescent girls as part of their income generation initiative for the Yuvati Samooh. Of these 52 girls, 9 are now earning a monthly income by making school dresses.  Read more here.

CORD Lathikata continues to bring awareness to health, hygiene and sanitation. They organized a program focusing on sanitation under Grama Parimala Divas at Betora, Mundojare Gram Panchayat on Februrary 20th, 2014. The program educated participants on sanitary practices like the use of contaminated water and the improper disposal of human waste. The sanitation drive was held on the sacred day of Poojya Gurudev's birthday and involved youngsters, village elderly persons, Acharyas, Chinmaya MIssion and CORD Sevaks.  Read more here.

Awareness theme continues at CORD Siruvani :  Besides activities by the local CORD members,  many volunteers from around the globe who visited CORD Siruvani helped improve health awareness.  They interacted with the villagers especially women and children and educated them on health issues like anemia, tobacco addiction and improper sanitation.   A Waste Segregation at source initiative was introduced by volunteer Sri Parthu Reddy Kalva from UCSD, California collaborating with an NGO 'PROWASTE' and local vendor.  Children in rural schools were given a schedule to follow to segregate waste at their schools.  Read more here.

Going Organic, CORD Kaza is expanding their kitchen garden this year to help provide the children with nutritional food for their overall health and academic success.  A Child Development Project Officer from the Department of Women and Child Welfare visited the location and was very impressed on how the Chinmaya Vijaya is being run.  Read more here.

Women Empowerment showcased at CORD Sidhbari:  an awareness rally called "The One Billion Rising Program" was conducted to provide a legal framework that protects women from domestic violence and other similar issues.  A resolution was submitted to the District Commissioner of Kangra to provide legal aid to women as well as police appeal support in women friendly way.  In another occasion Chinmaya Navajyoti Mahila Mandal team raised their voice and stopped the use of an illegal stone crusher that was hampering the safety of the village and hindering the water flow of the river. Read more of similar achievements and other key activities in their annual report here.

CORD Thamaraipakkam – Rapidly Developing Kisan Mandals at Vadhatur Panchayat : Cord Thamaraipakkam shifted its focus to a new panchayat, Vadhatur in Tiruvallur district after being assured that Thamaraipakkam panchayat was benefitting from funding from WHO and well established CORD support clubs.  Kisan Mandals (Farmers Clubs) were set up within 2 months at Vadhatur panchayat.  Residents of Tiruvallur were quickly connected with many agricultural and fisheries experts and government officials who provided knowledge on various cultivation techniques and available incentives or financial resources.  A solar lighting system was set up as an incentive from CORD.  Members of the Farmers Club kick started some novel agricultural processes such as SRI paddy cultivation and compost production further ensuring the engagement and success of the pre-dominantly agricultural community.  To catch up in detail on the exciting developments, please check out here.

CORD Sri Lanka - Empowering Women to be Small Business Owners : With the help of SHG (Self Help Groups), quite a few women with personal setbacks and unsteady income successfully became small business owners.  This enabled them to be financially secure in managing their everyday expenses for their family.  These women received training on specific skills such as tailoring or food/snack preparation and the support sometimes included receiving a micro loan.  Please see the amazing stories of these women in here.

Big thanks to Paulomi Campbell, Samihita Kaw Bhat, Mamatha Ratnam, Teji Kanakamedala and Kapil Varma for their help with the newsletter!

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

Subha Varma Pathial
CORDUSA Inc.
Tax ID - 27-0540459
Toll free number: (866) 580-5508
Fax: (866) 580-5508
http://www.cordusa.org
http://www.facebook.com/cordusa
http://cordusa.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/cordusa



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 2014 CORDUSA News


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Our Service Visit applications are pouring in!  If you haven’t already, you might want to look online to see if you are eligible.  You might meet the two children pictured here, I met them at Deuladiha last May.

Our GlobeMed Boston College (BC) partners led a panel at MIT during the Grassroots Initiatives for Global Health Summit on February 8th. In the panel, the four students discussed the importance of partnership; the upcoming GROW Internship, and shared some of the amazing projects of CORD Siruvani. Other leaders in global health were present and collaborated with the GROW team on the topics of cultural awareness and sanitation advancements.  In March our Globemed-BC partners finished selling t-shirts for the Boston Marathon and made $3,294!! Congratulations Maggie and her team!

CORDUSA-Miami held their 2014 “Walk for CORD” fundraiser on February 16th at Miami’s Metro Zoo with nearly 200 attendees. Everyone loved their CORD T-shirts. Miami CHYKS (youth groups) facilitated the registration. While leading their group of walkers color coded by beads through the zoo, they were giving them fun facts along the way and quizzed them at the end. It was a unique and exciting experience for all.TV Asia reported on the event. They raised close to $4.5K from this event so far, and are still counting. Congratulations to Sunita Nandwani and her team!

On March 20th CORDUSA launched AmazonSmile campaign. Shop at AmazonSmile and Amazon will donate an extra $5 to CORDUSA. Click on this link to get started:http://smile.amazon.com/ch/27-0540459
PLEASE SHARE and bring money to CORDUSA, your favorite Charity!

Chinmaya Dhara in Niagara Falls held a fundraiser camp "Stepsto Siruvani” from March 21st to 23rd to raise funds for CORD Siruvani’s new center. This was spearheaded by Acharya Vivek Gupta and some young adults (Ages 18-35) across the country. The camp was priced at just $51 with a request for participants to raise a minimum of $201 per person.

CORDUSA-University of California, San Diego (UCSDis one of the University Chapters of CORD USA. They primarily focus their efforts on CORD Siruvani, and are planning their second visit in September. Here is the link to their blog.

Another University Chapter, CORDUSA -American University (AU) needs your help to take five members on a 1.5-month service trip to CORDUSA's project site in Tamaraipakkam, Tamil Nadu. They have a May 15thdeadline to raise funds. All are International Development majors at AU and members of the AU Chapter of CORDUSA. See the link for more details.

CORD Deuladiha fuels farming techniques! Under theRastriya Krushi Vikas Yojan (RKVY) scheme, 29 farmers have received subsidized farming materials, including fertilizer, seeds, and pesticides. Additionally, the Chinmaya Divyajoti Farmers’ Club of the Sarei village has begun ground nut cultivation training under the direction of CORD. The implementation of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Line Transplantation (LT) in farming communities has yielded 50 additional hectares of land for paddy cultivation relative to the previous year, and crop-cutting demonstrations have been realized by farmers’ clubs in various regions. Read more...

CORD Lathikata goes green! Farmers are engaging in a program called Swabalambi Krishi that promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of crop cultivation through the use of readily available technologies and natural resources. CORD has recently implemented six organic farming awareness programs, which have benefited hundreds of people. The use of such resources as bio-fertilizer and vermin compost is becoming more prevalent in Indian farms. Not only do such organic methods reduce chemical contamination and illness in plants, animals, and individuals, but they also eliminate the cost of investment in artificial pesticides and fertilizer.  Read more...

CORD Sidhbari goes international.  Twenty-seven students and two professors from Kelly School of Business (KSB), Indiana University visited CORD Training Centre Sidhbari under its Globase India program. The students worked on five different projects i.e. Rural Careers (Farm Sector), Vermin-Compost promotion (Farm Sector), Talent Acquisition, Impact study on CORD’s Social Justice Program and CORD Community Marketing strategies. They conducted in depth research, teleconferences/Skype calls and documentation with recommendations for past four months before their actual site visit from March 10th to March 15th 2014. This has greatly helped CORD Sidhbari in the scaling of different programs.  Read more...

CORD Siruvani brings awareness to mental health.Thennamanallar Vennila Mahila Mandal conducted a theme based awareness program in October 2013. Around 500 women participated in the program that was held at Rajalakshmi Kalyana Mandapam. Various topics were presented including self-defense, preservation of the environment and global warning. The program was a grand success.  Read more...

CORD Thamaraipakkam empowers the differently abled. Two major events were held at Athupakkam in connection with community-based rehabilitation for people living with disabilities. On Gandhi Jayanthi Day, 20 people living with disabilities received valuable equipment to make their life easier and more meaningful. They received donated items such as custom-made footwear and crutches.  Read more...

You remember our BREP (Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment Program) call to action, “Penny Wars!”.  It was coordinated by a set of enthusiastic CHYKs.  I have the following report from Padma Mana about this program -

‘’The Penny Wars was initially envisioned at the Youth Empowerment Program in Piercy, CA in the summer of 2013. The culmination of 31 eager students, 4 compassionate residential acharyas andGurudev’s grace, brought out many sparks of creativity in terms of service projects and fundraisers for Chinmaya Mission West. The Penny Wars was one such idea which came about to support CORD USA.

The framework of the initiative was simple; it would be a competitive fundraiser implemented at Balavihar sessions across the continent. Students would compete with students from other classes for raising the most money, mostly in the form of change. CHYKs would facilitate the fundraiser with the help of their boards in order to help the movement gain momentum and provide a contagious excitement for the cause.

For the program’s first roll-out this year, 5 centers across the US were able to implement it successfully. Several other CM West centers also responded positively about hosting the initiative next year. Nevertheless, between Ann Arbor, Austin, Bentonville, Dallas, and Portland, a total of $8,556 was raised! All the proceeds will go towards the Bhutanese Refugee Outreach Program (BREP), an initiative of CORD USA.

BREP by CORD USA is an effort to help Bhutanese refugee communities maintain their heritage while integrating into their new surroundings in the US and Canada, after fleeing political turmoil in their homeland of Southern Bhutan. BREP efforts with adults include addressing issues like health, education, awareness, and financial independence. Efforts with children include cultural integration through Balavihar, helping with school work & college entrance exams. Overall, CORD USA hopes to better understand the issues and needs of each community and empower them thereafter.

CHYK involvement was pivotal in the operation of the Penny Wars for BREP. CHYKs from each of the centers organized the logistics, publicity, and finances at their respective center. They served by communicating with the board and the Mission family about the fundraiser, making announcements at Balavihar sessions and raising awareness in other ways. They were responsible for the collection jars of each class, and encouraged healthy competition among the children in order to raise as much as possible towards the good cause.

They also found themselves in the midst of the enthusiasm at their centers. Juhi Amodwala, an Austin CHYK, mentioned that “All the classes got pretty excited especially because the class that raised the most money would get a pizza party. There was an overwhelming response from especially the younger classes that got competitive. The fundraiser was a great way to get the message about the Bhutanese community to mission members, while involving students in a fun activity!”

The fundraiser not only excited the children and involved the CHYKs, but spread awareness to parents and adults. In Ann Arbor, Shubhum Siddhar said that,
“The kids were enthusiastic, but the adults were also engaged once they learned about these efforts.”

It is thus no surprise that Sridhar Karra, a CHYK of Dallas, felt the strength of the strong ties of the Mission family- “It was great to see them come together to help the Bhutanese community here. Healthy competition and an innovative method of raising funds made for a memorable and effective fundraiser.”

Another fruit of Gurudev’s grace through this fundraiser was the cross-cultural awareness brought about by the initiative. Kapil Varma, 13-year-old student of Portland Balavihar, organized for the local Bhutanese representative to speak on BREP to the other students. Everyone learned more about the Bhutanese refugees, and Balavihar students were especially keen to help.

At CM Bentonville, the initiative added to the fuel of the year. After several CHYKs attended their first CHYK camp and then hosted the CHYK West Regional Planning Conference, the fundraiser provided even more momentum to the high standards of the year. Balavihar students were very pumped for the fundraiser and are excited to compete again next year.

As all five centers expressed, the Penny Wars was a successfully run fundraiser. With momentum building for the coming years, and with Gurudev’s grace, more can be done for the BREP through CORD USA.’’

Big thanks to Paulomi CampbellShabana Dipchand,Arista Jhanjee, Samihita Bhat and Kapil Varma for their help with the newsletter!

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

Thank you!
Subha Varma Pathial
CORDUSA Inc.
Tax ID - 27-0540459
Toll free number: (866) 580-5508
Fax: (866) 580-5508
http://www.cordusa.org
http://www.facebook.com/cordusa
http://cordusa.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/cordusa

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 2014 CORDUSA News

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Last December, I travelled to Sri Lanka and spent a few days with Mrs. Gowrie Mahenthiran, CORD Sri Lanka’s Director and her team. It was an amazing trip! I was able to experience first-hand the kind of work that CORD Sri Lanka was able to do and has been trying to accomplish. You’ll hear more about that later. First, let’s focus on news around the world.

You all heard about BREP program by CORD USA.  As a result of long standing political turmoil in their homeland, Bhutanese refugees had to take refuge in other countries. CORD USA's Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment Program is an effort to help Bhutanese communities maintain their heritage and integrate into their new surroundings successfully. Efforts include helping adults with issues like health, education, awareness, and financial independence. Efforts with children include Balavihar, school & college entrance exams. Overall, we hope to understand the issues and needs of each community and empower them thereafter. 

CHYK-CORD USA initiative kicked off a BREP fundraiser called “Penny Wars” in December. I know our Portland Balavihar group is still enthusiastically participating in that program, and our “Penny Wars” lead Kapil was able to make contact with Bhutanese Refugee spokesperson Som Subedi of Portland, and is making arrangements for Som to come and speak to Portland Balavihar.  I am sure all over in other Balavihars across the Americas, there are many excited children doing the same.

The Balavihar children of Chinmaya Mission Vancouver have done something remarkable and unique.

They sang selected Shlokas from the Bhagawad Gita and explained the connection to acts of charity, serving and rejoicing in the welfare of others. They raised $370 CAD for BREP (Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment Program).

Congratulations Vancouver Balavihar!

CORD USA started their Globemed Partnership with Boston College at the beginning of this academic year.

Founded by students in 2007, the GlobeMed network engages over 1,500 undergraduates at 50 university-based chapters throughout the U.S. Each chapter is partnered one-to-one with a grassroots health organization in one of 19 countries throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. Fundraising and on-site efforts at each chapter contribute to one or more of six key areas of impact: maternal health, water, sanitation & hygiene, nutrition, income generation, communicable disease prevention, and capacity building. Through their involvement today, Globemed students and partners commit to a life of leadership in global health and social justice.
 
I have been working with Dr. Meera Krishna (CORD Siruvani Project Director), Sahil Angelo and Maggie Bennett (Co-Presidents of Globemed at Boston College)on specific projects partnering Globemed and CORD Siruvani. I also enjoyed meeting with the Boston College Globemed team.  5 lucky interns have been selected to visit and work at CORD Siruvani this summer. 

Congratulations to Maggie and her team!

CORDUSA-American University, Washington D.C., led by Puja Balachander, is making great progress. CORDUSA-AU received official recognition as a student organization in October! They have already had their first meeting and event. The event was a panel on the topic of rural development in India and youth efficacy in this realm. It was very well attended and included representatives of the Indian Embassy, IREX, and the Association for India's Development. CORDUSA-AU’s general meeting also generated a lot of interest. In addition CORDUSA-AU participated in an International Awareness week from November 11th-15th hosted by the American University. I met with CORDUSA enthusiasts over Skype during the event.  We enjoyed the session despite some technical difficulties with Skype.

Congratulations Puja and her team!

CORDUSA – University of California, San Diego is nearing the end of its third quarter at the University of California, San Diego. Three of CORDUSA@UCSD members volunteered at CORD Siruvani from Dec. 16th-Dec. 30th, 2013. Parthu Kalva, who leads this effort at UCSD, is still gathering his notes, so we will publish the details soon in our Facebook page.

In San Diego, CORDUSA@UCSD are currently exploring partnerships with local non-profit organizations in order to further their exposure to local, community-based work. This year, they will seek to obtain funds for their research and projects through fundraising and global health grants, as well through the sponsorship by both private and public bodies throughout the United States.

Congratulations Parthu and his team!

Let us look at CORD news from India and Sri Lanka.

Agriculture flourishes at CORD Tamaraipakkam. Community development workers are receiving training to plant vegetable gardens and are promoting the use of these gardens in Magalir Mandrams (MM) and Self Help Groups (SHG). Smt. Manjula, a member of the Chinmaya Venkateshwara SHG in Velliyur, has created a garden and harvested a good crop of many useful vegetables. Another agricultural initiative was spearheaded by Ms. Amritha Preetham of Anna University, Chennai. At the invitation of CORD, she conducted presentations on a new drip irrigation scheme for Chinmaya Farmers’ Clubs in three villages. As a National Agriculture Development Project of the Government of India, the scheme is fully subsidized, and is expected to increase yields of vegetables and cash crops. Many farmers seem willing and ready to take advantage of the system.


Actions for Awareness! CORD Siruvani supported a theme-based awareness program carried out in Coimbatore by Thennamanallur Vennila Mahila Mandal with the backing of Nehru Yuva Kendra (NYK). 500 women, including the members of the 19 Mahila Mandals of CORD Siruvani, participated in the event, as did boys from various Youth Clubs. Speeches were given on as self-defense, environmental preservation, and global warming, and some of the meeting participants put on dancing and singing presentations! Several items made by Self Help Groups were sold, and Chinmaya Mission books were gifted to all program guests.

CORD Kaza is SNAPping away! 20 students of Chinmaya Vijaya were selected for SNAP (Springs New Analytical Program). SNAP teaches the same class syllabus in an analytical way by dividing each topic into three levels - the first level concentrates on the matter of the textbook, the second level gives the extension of the topic and the third level gives importance to the creativity of the students. This makes the students feel very comfortable with the subject and gain extra knowledge. As a result, students are not only limited to pursuing IIT but have their options open to: Medical, Civil Services and other exams.

CORD Sri Lanka opens their eyes. LHCHA (Lanka Health Care Hospitals & Academy) and CORD Sri Lanka held an eye care medical camp for over 100 women and children in Jaffna wherein a team of 11 optometrists conducted several tests on: visual fields, color definition and refraction. About 40 were diagnosed for treatment for their eye defects. “…The result of this camp will bring light in the lives of hundreds of people suffering from eye diseases,” commented an optometrist.

CORD Lathikata continues its mission to provide affordable and holistic health care through the Swabalambi Swasthya initiative. Swami Kevalananda is project director of this program, which has treated a total of 390 people thus far. Since the focus is treat the whole individual using holistic treatments, experts from the areas of allopathic medicine, Ayurveda, acupressure, and naturopathy medicine are consulted on a regular basis. Examples of treatments that are used include, yoga, pranayama and medicinal plants. Individuals are also educated on nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation.

CORD Deuladiha is all about youth empowerment! During this quarter 13 new Yuvati Samoohs (Adolescent Girls Group) formed in the village of Santeibhanja with a total of 138 members.. Opportunities such as tailor training were provided to the girls not only to develop this skill, but also as a way to generate income. Two new youth clubs also formed with a total of 7 in the surrounding villages. Through these groups, youth are responsible for cleaning their village area and giving back to the village in general.

Now let us get back to my adventures in Sri Lanka.  When I landed at Colombo airport, Gowrieji and
her team was there to receive me, we made our way to Ramboda with a quick lunch in the van.

In Ramboda, we went and visited Chinmaya Mission’s Hanuman temple.  It is a beautiful temple in a scenic area.  From the temple top, you get an astounding view of the Ramboda falls and its surroundings.  I was totally lost in the natural beauty of Sri Lanka and the photographer in me was in total bliss!

After a while, we met with the Self Help Groups (SHG) at Ramboda, and were able to look through their products and give them some suggestions. On our way out, we stopped to visit a few other SHGs and I was very impressed with the bread factory they had with a whole array of breads, with nothing but a brick oven to make it all in!  No timers or temperature controls!

After a night in Ramboda, we went on a 7 hour trip to Jaffna.  The CORD Jaffna office was a small but self-contained place with a small kitchen and the basic living facilities. CORD Jaffna is looking to move this facility into the main highway to get better access to the city and more visibility.

The CORD Jaffna center offers tuition for under-privileged children. There I gave the Jaffna staff a quick training about Skype and how to operate that, as I wanted to get our CHYKs to start helping these children with their English and Math through Skype at some point.

The need for wellness counseling for the war-torn families was immediate and urgent. We visited Shanthiham, an NGO which offers health and wellness counseling and discussed ways CORD Sri Lanka can offer their services to our beneficiaries.

On our way we stopped at Ariyalai Chavakachcheri, visiting their school and the SHGs.  Their homes were shelled down and broken into pieces. They still live in these ramshackle partially destroyed structures, or small make-shift shacks they have cobbled together in the middle of that rubble, as there is nowhere else to go.  Gowrieji and her team has trained some of the SHGs to make liquid hand-soap as it has been a mandate in Sri Lanka for all restaurants to provide that. 


We also stopped by and watched ladies making mats using locally grown long grass called “Sampu” grass.  The mats looked beautiful.

The next day we went on to Killinochi and stopped at the Sri Lankan branch of the German Training Institute.  The officer there was very helpful and explained to us how we can facilitate our beneficiaries to get training from this institute.  CORD Sri Lanka does not have an office in Killinochi, which seemed to be the major stumbling block for getting training help for the beneficiaries.  I gave a personal donation to Gowrieji to start a fund for “Killinochi building” for CORD Sri Lanka.  I was planning to come back to USA and explain the situation to all of our well wishers of CORD USA to start a fundraising specifically for this. 

Little did I know at the time that right after I left, the wonderful Yatris who visited with Swami Ishwaranandaji, from Los Angeles, raised the funds needed for this project in one quick meeting there!  I can’t thank Swamiji and the team enough for this inspired giving.

We then made our way to the school in Paranthan, where major Rehabilitation programs are being carried out. A visit to the CORD sponsored Thambirasapuram Junior School where nearly 100 children are provided with a mid-day nutritious meal, extra after-school tuition classes for English, Math, and Social sciences, Tamil, History and Religion.  The children enthusiastically received us and entertained us with their song and dance.  It was so heart warming to see them laughing and playing.  We inaugurated their new children’s club there and went out to see an SHG working on coconut husk based products by hand.  It was one of the Tsunami hit areas and the salt water damaged all crops there.  Even after 10 years, the damage is still visible!  I was in awe at the sheer power of nature.

I left Sri Lanka with a lot of memories and pictures and with a lot of love and respect for the hard work Gowrieji and her team is doing there.   More photos at http://www.facebook.com/cordusa

I know everyone is eagerly waiting for the announcement of our CORD USA service visits.  We will be announcing it in March.  Service visits will be in December. Stay tuned!

Big thanks to Paulomi Campbell, Shabana Dipchand, Arista Jhanjee and Kapil Varma for their help with the newsletter!

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

Thank you!
Subha Varma Pathial
CORDUSA Inc.
Tax ID - 27-0540459
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