Last week, I briefly mentioned that my cousins, Arun and his wife Lydia, are in the process of starting up a non-profit organization here in Chennai. Hope ToRCh, which stands for Hope To Reach Children, is a non-profit, project-based organization that seeks to aid existing orphanages in the Chennai area as well as in other parts of India. To give you some background information, many children in India are at risk of being mistreated or abandoned. For one, because the dowry system is still widely used, many people value baby boys over girls, and many baby girls are left without a home. Child trafficking is also still a rampant problem, especially in North India, and children that are rescued from that end up homeless. Other times children come from abusive families or are left at orphanages if their parents cannot afford to take care of them.
Arun and Lydia have been living in Chennai for the last five years and have adopted two beautiful children through India’s adoption system. One of the main reasons they decided to leave Southern California to move here was because they felt strongly compelled to give their time, energy and resources to aiding the children here. Over the years they have made strong ties with several orphanages and they are now in the initial stages with starting their own NGO. Some of the projects they are currently working on with one orphanage in particular include funding for private school tuition (public schools in India are free, but private schools are far better in terms of curriculum and opportunities made available to students) and creating and implementing a monthly newsletter which publicizes the work the orphanage is doing as well as its needs and volunteers opportunities.
When I was deciding what countries to visit during my travels, the main reason I decided to spend a month here in India was so I could contribute however I could to get this organization up and running. The process is long and arduous, and there’s a mountain of paperwork, proposal writing and editing that needs to be done. At best I can hope to make a small dent in the work during these next few weeks. Then again, the more research I do about these orphanages and the more conversations I have with my cousins about their goals for this organization, the more addictive the work becomes. Just by talking to them you can see how passionate they are about the mission of this organization and how invested they are with the orphanages they work with. Even now, at 2:30am on a Saturday night, I am up trying to complete one of the many tasks Arun has set for me. Well, that and blogging about it of course. I will keep you posted on our progress, and will also post more information and photos in the coming weeks. Hopefully within the next few months Hope ToRCh will have ways for you to contribute as well if you would like. Stay tuned.