In Melanie’s words…
I met Gayatri in 2009 at the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre; the studio she owned in Kemptville. At the time she was preparing for her first trip to India to take part in the 300-hour YTT (Yoga Teacher Training). She came back very excited about the dream of helping children – the kids that the ashram sponsored. Gayatri’s excitement about the beginning stages of Helping Hands for India was infectious, and I too began to love these children just as whole heartedly.
In Kemptville, I began helping to raise money for building the school and donating what I could as well. My three children (Nicholas, Julia and Kali) would also come to the studio and donate their own pennies and coins into a donation jar we had left at the studio. It made them so happy to know that those coins would help a kid their own age learn to read in another country.
In 2012, I took my first trip to the ashram. I filled my suitcase with school supplies and books for the children. In 2013, I sent just as many supplies with friends who were travelling. In 2014, I brought 100 lbs worth of supplies to the school!
In 2014, I had the most wonderful opportunity to study at Anand Prakash for the 300-hour YTT. One beautiful Saturday, we travelled to the school, where the children were happy to have us for sports day. We played sports with the children, sang songs, distributed pencils and books.
This is one of the most vivid memories I have of India to this day. Sitting with the kids and taking selfies with them as they kept playing with my phone and seeing their own faces on the screens. The smiles, laughs and complete joy they shared with us is something that can never be replaced.
I knew at that moment, that I would do whatever I could to continue to be
part of this project.
I feel so blessed to be part of the board of directors. This job not only fills me on a personal level, but also my children who are learning and excited about how they can contribute. These children in India have lit a fire within me, and my children!
~ Om Shanti