This month we have added the tribal village of Ulanga to our food distribution program. The photos above and below are from programs held in this village. Ulanga is the poorest village in the entire district of Bhadrak, and as you can see in the photos the children do not even have clothes to wear. Since winter is approaching and temperatures in Orissa will get very cold, our volunteers have requested that we distribute a free set of clothes and a warm blanket to every child in this village (there are approximately 300 children in this village).
It will cost us $3.00 (Rs. 144) for each blanket, and $1.00 (Rs. 48) for each set of children’s clothes. In total we will need $1,200 (Rs. 56,700) to provide blankets and clothes to all the children of this village. If you would like to help sponsor these blankets and clothes, you can use the box on the right to donate.
In a previous email newsletter we had mentioned the Ashram’s desire to purchase a used van for use in our food relief program. We are happy to report that with the kind help of devotees in California and Oregon we were able to collect enough funds for purchasing the van.
With the addition of this van, we are now able to prepare the food at our ashram, and transport it by van to the distribution places. Previously we had to cook everything at the distribution place itself, which required us to transport the cooking pots and ingredients 10 to 15 kilometers by bicycle pushcart. Once we finished cooking and distributing the sanctified food, we had to clean up the area and again transport the pots back to our Ashram, which was another 10 to 15 kilometers by bicycle pushcart. This was a great physical burden for the volunteers, and as a result we were only able to conduct the distribution four times a month. Now with the purchase of this van we are able to very easily cook everything at our Ashram, and then drive to the villages for distribution. The procedure has become so simple (and less strenuous for the volunteers) that we have immediately increased our distribution of food to ten times a month.
For the coming year the ashram has plans to launch two new projects. In January we will be opening a food relief center in our Ashram itself, where poor children can come every single day to receive free meals. Up till now our food relief activities have always been conducted in villages around our Ashram, but we feel it is important to provide a permanent location where all children can come on any day and receive a free nourishing meal. This program will be conducted in addition to our village food relief programs.
The second project we are planning to launch next year will be the opening of a school to provide free education to poor and needy children. This project will involve the construction of a permanent school building for up to 200 students which will be ran by the Bhaktivedanta Ashram. The students will be provided all school supplies (books, pens, paper, etc.) and uniforms free. In addition to this the students will be provided free meals every day.