I had no idea how many volunteers would be here, how it was run or what my role would be. Like I said from the beginning, I am here to serve, to give back in any way possible with my hands and my heart. I didn’t need to know the details in advance. This is a grass-root project and given its location and spiritual community, it brings a lot of people to the grounds, visiting from all over the world, especially in the Kundalini Yoga community (teachers have fundraised for her and held retreats where they have incorporated volunteering there). Check out the new stairs built by fellow volunteers!
Many come for lunch in the café where ALL profits go DIRECTLY to the orphanage and all gratuities go to the children who each have their own college savings account. The older children help deliver food to guests and rotate doing dishes as this is part of their home. In addition, many children showcase their creative side by selling their creations in the café and all proceeds go directly to each child (check out examples below).
The kids get themselves up for school and the older ones help the younger ones. While they are at school, a few long-term (2-6 months) volunteers are able to assist in classrooms but otherwise, the majority of volunteers are helping run the café doing a variety of jobs from baking, taking orders and helping in the kitchen. This is an important part of the orphanage as the income generated goes directly into maintaining the orphanage, creates a community and space for others to learn about Ramana’s Garden, to eat 100% organic food all grown from the garden as well as to share with friends and family. When the kids are back from school, volunteers are able to share their creative side with the children through art, dance, music, hula-hooping, slack-lining, yoga etc.
Some of the younger children simply enjoy quality time with the volunteers, playing in the playground, going for adventures to their favorite temples, drawing, coloring and more!
The children are also incredible dancers! I was lucky to be able to attend one of their performances they had for those in the community (all donations go to the children). It ranged from traditional dance to Bollywood and the boys kicked butt doing flips and breakdancing!
Several times a week there is a dance class/expressive movement led by one of the volunteers and many children enjoy attending that. Around 7pm is Satsang. Everyone gathers in the yoga hall for a daily recap, sings together then chants the Hanuman Chalisa, usually with candlelight. After satsang is Prasad, a divine snack offered to everyone. On Saturdays, the café offers a community movie night which brings in a good crowd to have pizza (which is made by the older boys), organic salad and tea!!
There were around 12-20 volunteers, 3 that were long-term (3-6 months) staying on site. The ages ranged from 18-65! It was beautiful to see the handful of return volunteers. We all come with arms wide open, a heart to love and hands to give. In the mix of helping out in a variety of ways, many volunteers help with construction projects, website work, marketing or the simple and priceless things like your time.
During the summer, Delhi steals a lot of the power in the mountains and when the temperature gets into the 40’s (Celsius) they retreat to the mountains. They have some land up in the hills where they all go to that doesn’t have electricity or hot water, simply a place for the kids to run around, farm, and escape the horrendous heat.
**I am grateful for every minute here and it is because of YOU.**