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Visit to Jeanamitabh Orphanage

18 December 2012

By Derek and Vinyse

Today we had the pleasure of visiting Jeanamitabh’s orphanage/boarding school in Tikabigha. Here there are approximately 220 children who’ve lost their parents or come from very poor families who cannot afford to raise them. When we arrived, we felt like celebrities…given a flower lei, a blessing, and the kids threw rice and flower petals on us while we walked down the aisle…we didn’t even have that for our wedding! They were so excited to see visitors, and were all happy and smiling and giggling.

Once everyone was settled into their rows (boys on one side of the room, girls on another, arranged by height), there were two welcome songs sung to us. They then started their normal morning routine, which included two prayers and the Indian and French national anthems (Mummy Jee is originally from La Reunion), all spoken/sung in unison. One of the students came up to the front and told a fable (with a moral of the story in both Hindi and English). We were really impressed when a couple of the older boys stood to up to read articles from the newspaper in Hindi and English, and the other students asked questions.

The students then went off to their respective classrooms. We had a tour, and saw numerous rooms which act as both classroom and bedroom for the kids. We met two students who have physical disabilities, both were unable to walk but they moved around the school with their arms (the 14 year old boy had polio when he was 3). They are both happy, healthy and doing well. Although the building is poorly constructed (it’s rented) and has aging problems, they definitely make the best out of what they do have.

We spent the rest of the day turning our findings from the last three days into recommendations for this year’s purchases and have sent it to Toronto for review. We also managed to spent some time at Mahabodhi Temple, which has a descendent of the originally bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.

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