Welcome to India

This blog is intended to make a country that most Westerners find to be otherworldly not so much so. We enjoy sharing our experiences, noting our observations, highlighting our impressions and otherwise recounting our adventures in India while helping our blogwatchers to be vicariously closer to this grand country. Welcome to India.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Next Season of Life for the Whiting Family: Philadelphia, and CCH!

No, you're not seeing double - just a collage put together by our CCH 
staff as part of our send-off.

This good-bye party surprised us.  
We thought it was just gonna be another night of CCH Summer Camp.

Our CCH Staff.  These are the ones we worked most closely with 
for up to 5 1/2 years.

CCH kids like Komali are the Indian relationships Paige will miss the most.

Yes, we were given traditional Indian clothing for this party - 
something we will treasure for a long time.

In-n-Out at LAX always welcomes us back.

Descanso Gardens.  Grandma. 

Beloved Rickshaw Writer readers,

This is the final Rickshaw Writer submission as we are now Stateside.  

For good.

After 5 1/2 years on the ground in India, in early June we left Hyderabad, concluding our time with many festivities and closure experiences.  Sad good-byes, colorful parties, feasts of food and many cultural moments of honor and gratitude gave us a warm send-off from this time in our lives.

Above you can witness a progression of pictures that tell the story, concluding with Jaya and Grandma at Descanso Gardens in Sean's hometown of La CaƱada, CA. 

As for our future, we will be continuing our work on behalf of the children of CCH from the United States through the end of the 2016 year and will soon update our faithful partners on our purpose and role thereafter.  For now we are excited to be back home, excited for all that CCH is yet to become both with and without us, and excited to be moving our family to....

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sean will load up a moving truck tomorrow (Thursday) and begin the trek east for the new season of life.
A combination of weather, family, east coast intrigue, urban living, un-explored areas for ICM/CCH partners and more led us to make this decision about where we will be raising Jaya and Rayne, but our normal travels will continue to lead us in many directions and to many places.  Thank you for being a faithful or occasional reader of this blog that chronicled our personal experiences in India, while also giving background to what we do and why we do it.

Lots more to tell in future communication - Facebook?  Another blog?  How about, gulp, a phone call?

Thank you, readers and partners, for your prayers and faithful support to us while we lived in India.  And thank you for believing in the ongoing vision of CCH (and our role) in the future.  We are so and forever grateful to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

10 Million People Impacted? Really? CCH in 2016 - "By the Numbers"

2 Directors (Sean & Paige) getting ready to leave India for good and leave CCH in the hands of the all-Indian staff.

5 – Years running of CCH Summer Camp (thanks to you – see below!)

12 – Indigenous CCH staff members overseeing the current ground operations

22 – Of 27 homes now have sponsorships replaced from the phase out of our organizational partner that began last summer.  A huge accomplishment for us as Directors.

27 – CCH “children” – now students –  in college now!

39 – CCH sponsors (individuals, families, groups) sponsoring 49 of our 75 homes.

100 – Average number of clicks on a Rickshaw Writer blog submission since early 2011 when Sean and Paige arrived to India.

137 – Rickshaw Writer blog submissions since our arrival.

250 – Dollars-per-month covers a CCH 5-child home’s food and school fees.

315 – CCH children sponsored for Summer Camp through social media.

595 – Total children in CCH now, in 75 church-based homes.

$7,875 – Raised for camp through social media, primarily Facebook, for this year’s CCH Summer Camp – 4 times what we ever have raised before.  This covers 315 of our 595 children!  Thank you, all of you!

10,000 – Projected children being served by CCH in 25 years.

10,000,000 – Estimated people impacted by CCH over the next 100 years, many generations changed by the holistic restoration of hundreds of (formerly) orphaned children.  The long-term view of one person's impact is impressive and hundreds of people's impact is almost unimaginable...  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

10 Unexpected Fun Facts of CCH Summer Camp

Jump ropes are just one of the activities unique 
to CCH Summer Camp for these kids.

Every CCH Summer Camp has a theme - 
this year is "God Has a Plan For You."

Mango Day is a great day for pastor fathers and children alike. 

These are two of the illustrations for this year's camp theme.  
Great illustrations, huh?!

We're in the middle of an April-long CCH Summer Camp campaign:  


Here are some fun facts about CCH Summer Camp:

1,  Sean, Paige and all foreigners do NOT lead camp.  We and other foreign teams serve alongside, helping indigenous staff and the CCH Leaders youth to lead the camp plan.

2.  This year’s camp theme:  God Has a Plan For You.

3.  Camp happens in 100-camper, four-day sets, all through May.

4.  May is the hottest month of the year, but the only month we can have camp due to the 11-month academic year for Indian kids.

5.  The first photos taken with a digital camera, the first time strumming a guitar, the first time playing chess, the first time serving a volleyball, just a few of the personal “firsts” that happen at camp for many of these kids. 

6.  Camp used to be $50/child, covering transportation, accommodation and food, but we’ve cut back significantly and are doing it this year for $25/child to make sure camp happens, even when things are tight.

7.  Summer camp is very rare in India, especially for lower class/caste Indian children.  Developing countries are often still occupied with doing what it takes to survive, not thrive.  We promise these kids to help them thrive.  We promise them Summer Camp.

8.  Our older kids, 12 and above, do not attend camp, but a Youth Leaders Conference, which helps prepare them for their future and decisions to be made, responsibilities to be embraced and life paths to be chosen.

9.  Many children at CCH Summer Camp have never had one whole mango all to themselves, but only slices shared among a group.  Camp Mango Day is always a big, huge, tasty hit!

10.  In the past camp has been funded 50% by sponsorships and 50% by general funds of CCH.  We don’t have that luxury this year, so camp will be ALL sponsorships and donations.  Hence, a big April campaign.  Help us get there!

Send a child or many children to camp by clicking here: Send CCH to Summer Camp

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Showers Bring May...Summer Camp: 30 Days for 300 CCH Kids

When you attend school 6 days-per-week and 11 months-per-year, 
corning around at camp becomes a necessity.

Light and unity - we hope this picture is a metaphor for CCH!

Foreign teams often serve alongside our Indian leaders for CCH Summer Camp.

He Made Us Family is just one of many summer camp themes 
we have had over the years.

Redeem a Childhood at Summer Camp by Clicking Here

Summertime starts a bit early in India - late April to early June.

Summer camp almost never starts in India.  It's a rare thing for any child.  

Something so vital for a childhood of discovery, joy and memories is so rare in the developing world.


Our commitment to these CCH children includes providing two summertime life experiences to meet this need according to the child’s age and level of maturity. 

First, we focus on broadening these children’s lives and helping them to redeem their childhood through a summer camp experience that exposes them to beauty and offers opportunities to develop their minds in creative ways.  

Second, we provide a youth conference to meet the needs of our older children as they look towards a future that, with the right preparation, can be filled with bright possibilities as well as critical decisions during their spiritually formative years. 

These summertime events give action to our words that we are holistically restoring and developing these children. 

We have approximately 600 children and approximately 300 are sponsored by amazing home sponsors.  The other 300 attending this year's camp/conference is up to us.  

Can we raise $7,500 with simply daily campaigning primarily on social media?

We're sure gonna try!  Redeeming children's early years is just too important to pass up.

This year's camp and youth conference costs $25/child, a significant reduction in price from year's past as we try to make it more affordable to those of our donors who have a heart to give.

Please consider sponsoring a child or two for CCH Summer Camp/Youth Conference by clicking here:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The CCH Impact - One Child At a Time: Ajay

A Covenant Children’s Homes Story – Ajay

Modugalapalem Church-based Orphan Home

Ajay was born into a poor family in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh.  He lived in a well known Hindu town, Tirupathi.  The older of two brothers, Ajay was nine years old when his father died of kidney failure in 2011 at the young age of 30 years old.  His death was the result of alcoholism, a common response to the financial pressure on impoverished men in rural India.

After attempting life for a couple years without her husband, Ajay’s mother also gave in to an all-too-common response to social and financial pressure, committing suicide.  The despair and sadness of a widowed young woman in India is devastating.

At the age of 12, Ajay and his younger brother were orphaned. 

After this, Ajay and his brother were taken in by their uncle.  Extended family often step in for the children of deceased parents, but after time these children are often neglected and have to learn to fend for themselves.  Ajay’s uncle tried to help, but was not able to meet his nephews’ many needs.

Soon Ajay was truant from school, behaving angrily and understandably resentful about life.  His future seemed bleak.  This story is a common one in rural India – the result of a lack of education, a lack of social support and, ultimately, a lack of spiritual foundation.

Ajay with his CCH brother, Santhosh. 

Ajay is currently 8th grade and 14 years old.

When Ajay’s uncle learned about the nearby Covenant Children’s Home in the village of Modugalapalem, the pastor and Ajay’s uncle agreed that this would be a good opportunity for Ajay.  Ajay became a part of CCH in 2013, while his younger brother went to live with an aunt in a nearby city.

When Ajay came to the Modugalapalem CCH Home, Pastor Ravi Kumar introduced him to a daily structure that emphasized worship and devotions, educational pursuits and socialization with the other nine boys from similar situations in their lives.  As they spend time in the morning and evening focused on the love of God, receive healthy food and nutrition, attend the very best college preparatory school in the area and participate in the family chores and responsibilities, these boys have a chance to not just survive, but thrive. 

The Modugalapalem CCH Pastor Ravi Kumar and his wife, Catherine

CCH is providing Ajay not only a sense of belonging, but a way to heal  from his tragic childhood experiences.  In addition to offering physical health, nutrition and normal growth, Ajay now has an opportunity for the strongest educational preparation for his future and, most importantly, discipleship in Jesus.  In this, CCH offers Ajay a second chance at a life of fulfillment and reward as he learns about God’s purpose and plan is for his life.

Regarding this, Ajay says, “God is very good. He is always doing good things.  He will keep me with Him always. God will help my vision to come true.”

Ajay (back row, middle) with his Modugalapalem
CCH home brothers

Ajay describes his spiritual life in the following way:

“I came from a Hindu family, though my uncle is Christian.  The biggest difference is losing the fear that marks Hindus’ belief.  One night I had a dream and felt that somebody touched my heart. When he touched my heart, I had no more fear like Hindus.” 

Others have shared with Ajay that this dream was God’s Spirit touching Ajay’s heart and filling it with love.

Ajay, on the right, with some of his CCH brothers and, Charlotte, a recent visitor and part of the family that sponsors the Modugalapalem CCH home.

By his own words, Ajay’s life is much better in the church home than it was while living with his uncle.  Ajay’s favorite subject in school is math and, as the oldest boy in his church home, Ajay is developing into a leader.  As for the future, Ajay plans on attending University and in ten years Ajay says he dreams of caregiving in a CCH home like Modugalapalem. 

Covenant Children’s Homes
A Ministry of India Christian Ministries

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India