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Archive for March, 2010

Tour continues

Fifth Update from India

I’m pleased to inform you that Paper Kite’s project at Sunway Home #2 is now complete.  Mosquito screens have been built and installed to 8 medium sized windows as well as to two oversized windows in the kitchen.  For me the completion comes just in time as I return to Canada in 4 days and I have many other loose ends to complete beforehand.

The screens function well and look good – a successfully completed project.  The building is unfinished and the walls are uneven brick which haven’t been smoothed out with a concrete layer.  This unevenness means not all of the screens sit flush on the walls.  Ravi, Sunway Home Assistant Manager, is going to have the sides of the screens cemented to the building to fill-in the spaces.  That will improve the effectiveness of the screens and keep out almost all mosquitoes.

The arrival and installation of the screens were big news for the children.  The installers had an audience and a small army of willing assistants for fetching tools and water (right now it reaches over 40 C every day).  Once the install was done the children eagerly took me around and showed me each screen and insisted I took pictures with them next to the screens.  They loved the project itself and were especially happy once they learned the screens will keep out mosquitoes.  Included are more images showing the mosquito screens and my tour guides.  Other pictures were part of my previous blog posting.

Onwards and upwards.  I look forward to returning to Vancouver and discussing with our Board and other Paper Kiters our options for future projects.  There are several exciting projects that well suit Paper Kite’s goals.  I just found another one last Saturday, when the boarding school I was visiting turned out to be an orphanage.  A nice switch from the orphanages turning out to be schools.  Exciting times!  See you soon.




Sunitha Krishnan fights sex slavery

Sunitha Krishnan has dedicated her life to rescuing women and children from sex slavery, a multimilion-dollar global market. In this courageous talk, she tells three powerful stories, as well as her own, and calls for a more humane approach to helping these young victims rebuild their lives.

installing screens at home

Fourth Update from India

Mosquito Screens Project – Sunway Children Home

A couple of weeks ago our Board approved the purchase and install of mosquito screens at Sunway Home #2.  How hard can it be to have mosquito screens built and installed?  Sounds easy, right?

I first noted the need for the screens when I was at the home attending an evening talent show put on by the children and found literally clouds of mosquitoes within the home.  I first can assure you Bihar is filled with mosquitoes and the windows of the home didn’t have mosquito screens, shutters or windows.  The home is in the middle of agricultural fields that are highly popular with mosquitoes.  The little fellows can carry malaria which can prove fatal to people, especially to children under 5 years old.

Paper Kite works to provide the orphanages with items they require, instead of items we think they require and will never use.  Or perhaps mosquito screens are important but not their most pressing need.  With that in mind I asked Yrsa, Sunway’s Founder, what she saw as their most pressing need for the homes.  Mosquito screens for Home #2 was her quick response showing we were on the same page.  I asked permission to work with her home managers to coordinate the installation of the screens and she agreed.  Then I solicited and received approval from Paper Kite’s Board through a Skype meeting.

So just over 2 weeks ago I embarked on a journey with a carpenter.  So far I have enjoyed the overall experience.  During my numerous visits to the carpenter we’ve gone from negotiating through an interpreter to sharing sweet peas and Chai with his father, brother, and him.  I have learned that my being in his shop is a good reminder and work usually resumes on our project so I have camped in his shop a few days to move things along.

During our sessions I’ve learned of his three sons, the eldest having passed away in 2008 while his two younger sons work with him in the shop.  He’s provided Chai and sweet peas.  I’ve given him flowers to give to his wife (I recycled flowers one of the orphanages gave me).  We’ve admired the work of his employees.  We’ve looked meaningfully as he waved his hands in a pacifying manner at a pile of lumber that I figured would become our project.  We’ve chatted much about the project schedule.  This has been no small feat given his English is only slightly better than my Hindi.

Yesterday, I again camped in his shop and work finally finished on the screens.  So the screens, a carpenter and I were loaded into a moto-rickshaw and off we went to the home.  Another carpenter followed on a bike.  I was pleased to see screens’ being installed but the work wasn’t completed yesterday.  I went to the carpenter’s shop this morning and he said his staff was already at the home but the power had been out.  He then asked for payment.  I asked if they had finished the job and he confirmed it.  To protect our donor’s money, Paper Kite pays suppliers only after we see and approve their work, with good reason.  Once at the home I found that nothing had been done since the day before.  Had I paid him I would have nothing to hold him to completing the job.

Here’s hoping tomorrow brings power and carpenters at the same time at the same place.  I’ll write another posting to let you know the outcome of a project that has become Mosquito Screens 2010.



Healing Day

Healing for Paper Kite a success!!

Healing for Paper Kite on Sun, 21 Mar 2010 was a great success.  With your support, we raised $420.  We am very happy to let you know that this event had no cost and all proceeds will be going to the orphanages in Bihar, India.

Paper Kite Children’s Foundation is a 100% volunteer run charity.  A big thank you to Dr Varma who donated The Pacific Institute for Wholistic Living for the event and our healers who provided healing treatments at no cost.

Our next Healing for Paper Kite event is Sun, 16 May 2010.


Third Update from India

Hello from Bihar,

I have spent many hours bouncing on motorbikes and in jeeps searching for orphanages in the Gaya region of Bihar.  I have found about 10 orphanages and, incidentally, a number of schools as many of the sites I am told are orphanages turn out to be schools.  I thought I’d share with you details about the most promising one I have found so far, Sunway Children Home.

I met Yrsa S. Grüning, the Founder, by chance while we were both visiting a school for children from poor rural families and she nonchalantly mentioned she runs an orphanage.  What luck!  We reconnected later that day and visited the two homes she runs in the Bodhgaya area.  She and her organization are based in Denmark and have been involved here for about 6 years.  Sunway and Paper Kite share many of the same values, including having no paid western staff to ensure the maximum amount of donations directly benefit the children (Sunway Indian staff are paid; Paper Kite has no paid staff).

Together the two homes care for around 80 children.  The children live in the homes due to having no parents or family breakdown.  While I was there a woman was handing over her children as her husband had committed suicide and she was no longer able to support her children.  It was an emotional time, including for me even although I was only a witness.  Another boy had been rescued by a social worker after villagers reported he was being kept as a slave at a local farm.  Although against the law, the reality here is that there are many children working in agriculture, as home servants or as general labourers.

More information can be found on their website (  Note that some of it is out of date as they moved homes one month ago.

Sunway Children Home stands out from the other orphanages in three main ways:

1) it accepts children who require a greater level of care due to physical or mental challenges.

2) the children remain at the home until they are 18 years old.  Generally, children are no longer allowed at orphanages once they are 14.  When released at this young age, the children often end up getting married or going back to the streets.

3) the home is run with the best from a combination of western and eastern cultures.  For instance, while prevalent in the region, the caste system is not enforced and all the children are treated equally.  On the other hand, while Yrsa is Christian, the children are able to follow whichever belief system they choose.

Paper Kite is currently working with Sunway to install mosquito netting over the windows of one of their homes (I’ll write more on this in a later post).  One of the main detrimental forces working in Bihar is corruption.  Sadly, corruption pervades all levels of government and even local charities.  A major driving force behind Paper Kite is to ensure the orphanages we support are honest.  So far our background search on Sunway has been favourable but we still have some tasks to complete before committing to a larger project with Sunway.  Their next major project is building their own orphanage so they have stability and no longer have to rent facilities.

That’s all for now!




Healing for Paper Kite Children’s Foundation

Please join us for an afternoon of healing treatments.

This is a spectacular opportunity to experience healing treatments while supporting a worthy cause.
Enjoy one or more of our four treatments;

REIKI is a Japanese touch therapy that uses nature’s divine energy force to promote BALANCE.

STAR ACTIVATION HEALING activates your light body by sending light, sound, and sacred geometry connecting you to your true potential.

HEART RESONANCE THERAPY is an energy vibration that provides a deep sense of relaxation, calmness and peace.

SOUND HEALING uses tuning forks, singing bowls and voice to revitatlize and balance your physical, mental and energetic vibration.

All treatments are offered on a by donation basis benefiting Paper Kite Children’s Foundation.

We are suggesting a minimum donation of $20

SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
12:00pm – 4:00pm

AYURVEDA 3636 W 4TH AVENUE (next to Banyan Books)



Second Update from India

I’ve now been in Bihar for a month and have gained a better feel for it. My fellow Paper Kiters who have been here before prepared me for what to expect, and Bihar delivered. It’s a striking contrast to life in Canada. Everyday life in Bihar struggles against corruption, overpopulation, poverty, premature death, armed conflict, hunger, disease, lawlessness and prejudice. The challenges are complex and intertwined and will require a huge amount of effort to even mitigate, let alone solve.

These conditions have caused me to have my own challenges while volunteering here. The most unpleasant was being sick for 5 days, but, as one long-term traveller told me, “You don’t come to India for hygiene.” True. Health issues are frequent conversation topics for foreigners. In this land of malaria and tuberculosis, food-related illnesses are usually relatively benign.

Another frustration is spending much time ruling out facilities that I’ve been told are orphanages, but turn out to be schools. I’m not sure of the reason for this, whether the person wants the school to succeed or if there is some sort of kick-back scheme for people who bring donors to the school.

I was thinking the latter earlier today while I was on the back of a motorbike thinking we were going to an orphanage in a remote village. Partway there we suddenly detoured off the main road and ended up at a school as my driver explained the orphanage was too far away to go today. We pulled up and parked alongside two full size tourist buses. Without exaggeration I noted that the tourists outnumbered the students. My driver acted surprised and offended when I declined meeting a school official.

Bihar has one of the lowest education rates in India, meaning language can also be a barrier. English speaking people can be at a premium outside of the larger towns and I do not understand even basic Hindi, let alone Urdu. I’ve had many slooow conversations that involve writing things down or miming. I smile when I imagine how I must look rubbing my stomach so the head of the orphanage knows I’m asking something about food.

I have found some organizations that I believe are good prospects for our programs. I’ve also met many interesting characters and had some fun adventures in the wild lands of Bihar. I’ll write about these in my next posts.


Armed Conflict Worsens in Bihar

Suspected Maoist rebels have killed 11 people in an attack on a village in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

More than 100 rebels attacked Phulwaria Korasi village in Jamui district early Thursday morning, officials said.

The assailants blew up a house with explosives, set on fire nearly 30 mud huts with thatched roofs, and opened fire at the villagers.

More than 6,000 people have died during the rebels’ 20-year fight for communist rule in many Indian states.

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