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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1,000 CCH Kids Fully Sponsored (by 2016)

This is the hope, the goal that we have set prior to coming home for good in 2016 (and remaining in lifetime support and advocacy of CCH from afar).

Is your heart, group of friends/community, church or organization getting a sense that orphan care is in your future?  Orphan care does not always mean bringing orphans home to the Western world, in fact it means that less and less these days.  

See below if sponsoring a home of our children on your own or with a group of people you know is something intriguing for you.

Siddisimaduram boys get ready for dinner!

Check out the latest breakdown of our children's homes and what our vision is for the next three years.  We're so impressed with our indigenous Indian staff and their work this year without us actually being there.

545 children now?  Amazing!

Perhaps you might consider joining with some others (small group?  church? business?) to help sponsor a home of children?

S.N. Padu girls study hard into the night.

Sean hangs out with the Kolalpudi boys.

Vision:  1,000 fully sponsored CCH children by the end of 2016.

(Currently 400 of our 545 children are sponsored in 70 different homes.)

What makes CCH so distinct in orphan care?

1. Local – children are kept in their local village and local church

2. Personal – no large orphanages or institutions, family-size.

3. Holistic – physical, spiritual, educational growth:  “Not just survive, but thrive!”

4. Service-oriented – making leaders for India’s future out of low-caste Indians

5. Education – the key to breaking the cycle of poverty 

How much to sponsor?  $250 or $500-per-month. 

5 children:  $250-per-month to cover food and private education fees 
(plus occasional extras like school supplies, Christmas gifts, etc.).   

Do you know a family or a small group that would consider adopting five children?

10 children:  $500-per-month to cover all food and private education fees.
(plus occasional extras like school supplies, Christmas gifts, etc.). 

Would your church or smaller organization consider adopting a home of children?

Please consider who you can join with to sponsor a home – so much to gain by becoming a part of these children’s lives and even considering a visit to India!

Kuderu girls head to the bus (right around the corner).

Paige helps open one of our new boys homes last year.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Update on Jaya's Health and Progress

For those of you who followed Jaya’s first month, you know that her health and growth was a day-to-day adventure in April.  We reflect on April with heavy-but-grateful hearts as we see how far Jaya has come since those initial tenuous and uncertain days in the newborn ICU at UCLA.  We now see the fruit of those days - how our daily updates helped bond so many people to our daughter even before meeting her.

We are so thrilled to report that by virtually all measurements, Jaya’s health is improving and her growth and development is stable and ongoing.  

Some fun facts:

  • Age:  4 and-a-half months old already (March 31st)
  • Weight/Height:  9 lbs, 22.25 inches long
  • Feeding:  17.5 ounces-per-day, a majority of it through the bottle (which is the preferred option to her attached “G-Tube” which doesn’t help her motor skills)
  • Assistance:  Weekly doctor or nutritionist, physical and/or occupational therapy and monthly trips to UCLA for check-in with the cardiologist
  • Surgery update:  Anticipated second heart surgery is expected in early November – doctors say this open heart surgery is “very common” and are confident in Jaya, but for us as her parents this is not so common…
  • States visited:  7 (CA, VA, MD, NJ, NY, PN, OH layover)
  • Baseball games:  3 (Home team is 3-0)
  • Hugs and kisses received:  1, 439, 521 and counting... 

Jaya’s social skills are strong, her motor and feeding skills are getting there and the daily exercises and therapy are helping so much.  What a pleasure to consider all that our little overcomer (the meaning of “Jaya”) has been through and who she is becoming in the process.

More in love with her every day, we love to share as many pics as possible, so here you go:

Grandma love is the best.

With Aunt Julia at the family reunion.

In Mom's arms.

With cousin Charlie who is actually one month younger than Jaya!

Mastering the bottle...

With Grandpa and Mom.

Mema, Poppa and Santa Barbara's iconic Mission.

Saying good-bye to Poppa for a little while.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

At Home, But "In" India?

We arrived home in January, and we won’t be shy about saying it was a relief to be home from India for an extended period of time.  We were anticipating approximately seven full months in the States prior to returning to India for another three years on the ground.

And then came Jaya!

For most of April we were, quite frankly, unsure if we would ever be able to leave California again, much less the United States.  When Jaya’s cardiologist, assuming we wanted to return to India, indicated that January would probably be “no problem” as far as her heart goes, we were wide-eyed that our ongoing hopes and dreams for Covenant Children’s Homes might be able to continue as soon as 2014, and with our daughter in tow. 

A second heart surgery.  A recovery period.  Home for the holidays.  Then off to India in January.

So now what? It's only August.  What about a whole year at home in the States while still working on behalf of the children of India?

Honestly, so much of our work in India comes with the sentiment “Boy, it would be very helpful to be home right now” due to the importance of sharing our vision, building partners, meeting with groups and organizations and speaking at churches and other gatherings.  A good portion of our work is increasing the interest and awareness in these CCH kids and their future.

So while we are overseeing and directing our operations from a long way away (and keeping Skype in business on a nightly basis!), we are also building our partners for the long-term, taking advantage of our temporary locale Stateside and doing all we can in a similar workday to yours five days-per-week plus meetings and gatherings at many odd hours. 

Burdened with a “self-employed” type of work responsibility and approach, we carve out our days with the combination of CCH communication and responsibilities, Jaya appointments and needs, enjoying friends, family and our community as well as taking advantage of what we view as our year of renewal in Santa Barbara.

Here are some pictures of the last few weeks as we roll on in 2013, year three of our now six-year commitment “in” India.

From the top of the famous Santa Barbara Courthouse.

With Uncle Todd and Brandon out from New York for a recent visit.

Fiesta Days in Santa Barbara - is she cute or what?  Jaya looks good, too!

When in Southern California...

Birthing class Moms reunite, now doubled in quantity of people!

Pizza on the 4th in Isla Vista with friends.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jaya Loves Baseball

Jaya just celebrated her 4-month birthday this past week and her growth and development continue to impress her parents, family, friends and, most importantly, doctors.  A big recent step for her was beginning to receive her entire regular feeding through the bottle rather than through the “G-Tube” in her belly where we have been feeding her since the hospital.

Jaya measures in at 8 lbs. 12 ounces and 22 ½ inches long these days.

In June and July, Jaya attended three baseball games including two Dodger games and one Nationals game in Washington D.C.  She’s learning all about the intricacies of the game, like the art of holding runners on base and the difference between a squeeze and a suicide squeeze.  In fact, she probably knows more about baseball now than her Mommy.  

Jaya’s record at these games?  3-0 for the home team including an exciting walk-off home run for the Dodgers last week.  

Big thanks to Uncle Jason Berns, Auntie Kelly Ronan Hafner and Cousins Ashley and Devin for helping make Jaya's first summer a baseball summer.

Enjoy these updated photos of Jaya’s summertime fun from the east coast to the west coast.  Thanks for all your continued love, prayers and support for our little (but growing) girl.