From grat­i­tude to grat­i­tude:

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Sher­brooke, Len­noxville

“I feel such an in­tense grat­i­tude and warmth; I don’t know how to ex­plain it. I feel so much grat­i­tude when I’m there.”

That’s Deb­o­rah Hartt speak­ing about her vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ence in In­dia. She said she was “com­pletely over­whelmed” when she first stepped foot in the Child Haven home in Kaliyam­poondi. She will be in North Hat­ley and Len­noxville next week to tell about her ex­pe­ri­ences.

Her first day there was a Satur­day. Some 270 chil­dren were home from school. It was very busy. “My body was con­fused. I don’t speak Tamil, so ev­ery­body was speak­ing Tamil around me. The food was com­pletely dif­fer­ent. We were bathing out of buck­ets with freez­ing cold wa­ter. Ev­ery­thing was com­pletely dif­fer­ent, ex­cept the smiles on peo­ple’s faces. That was some­thing I un­der­stood!”

That was four years ago, when she spent three months at the Kaliyam­poondi home. She be­gan mend­ing the chil­dren’s clothes, and soon she had a moun­tain of work. She and her daugh­ter Walker helped chop veg­eta­bles in the kitchen. And they played with the chil­dren – jump rope, Car­rom – a game sim­i­lar to croki­nole, hop­scotch, tag, hand­clap­ping, mak­ing chalk draw­ings, vol­ley ball, and more.

She’s gone back four years in a row. “Now I know the chil­dren. I lis­ten to their sto­ries. When I ar­rive there I just feel this in­cred­i­ble thank you. I’m happy. The chil­dren come run­ning to meet me, with big smiles. I feel like I’m where I be­long. It’s just such an in­cred­i­bly re­mark­able beau- ti­ful space.”

The home in Kaliyam­poondi cov­ers four acres. Her work, and that of other vol­un­teer in­terns, sup­ple­ments that of some 50 staff per­sons. The home is only one of 10 Child Haven projects, mostly in In­dia. They take in des­ti­tute chil­dren, some 1,300 of them, and give them food, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care, shel­ter, cloth­ing and lov­ing care. They also help des­ti­tute women find a means of earn­ing their liveli­hood. By ex­ten­sion, that helps their chil­dren, too.

Child Haven’s homes and their en­trepreneurial projects model Gandhi’s phi­los­o­phy. “Girls and boys are treated equally, and with­out re­gard to race, caste, colour, re­li­gion or cul­ture. Liv­ing is sim­ple and meals are veg­e­tar­ian. We try not to West­ern­ize the chil­dren, but rather at­tempt to raise them ac­cord­ing to the highest ideals of their own cul­tures. We re­spect the her­itage of each child, whether Hindu, Mus­lim, Jain, Sikh, Chris­tian, Bud­dhist, sec­u­lar or other,” says the Child Haven web­site.

Fred and Bon­nie Cap­puc­cino started Child Haven in 1985 af­ter they’d adopted 19 chil­dren from around the world, and could take in no more. They are both ex­tremely ac­tive at the helm of Child Haven, along with their son Robin and oth­ers. Now Fred has just reached 90, and has writ­ten a book called Bon­nie and Her 21 Chil­dren. Bon­nie

and her teenaged daugh­ter at a Child Haven home in South In­dia, where Deb­o­rah has spent vol­un­teer stints over the past four years. She will talk about her ex­pe­ri­ences in North Hat­ley and at a Child Haven ben­e­fit din­ner at Shal­i­mar Restau­rant next week. still spends about six months of the year vis­it­ing the Child Haven homes, sup­port­ing and guid­ing them. The Cap­puc­cino cou­ple have re­ceived the Or­der of Canada and the United Na­tions Hu­man­i­tar­ian Ser­vice Award for their life­time of work.

Child Haven is a reg­is­tered char­ity that re­lies on do­na­tions through a se­ries of ben­e­fit din­ners across Canada, in­clud­ing Len­noxville. UUEstrie is co-spon­sor­ing the third an­nual ben­e­fit din­ner at the Shal­i­mar Restau­rant on Tues­day, April 12, at 6 p.m. Along with the din­ner is a slide-show about Child Haven and a silent auc­tion of items from South Asia.

Space is lim­ited, but tick­ets are still avail­able at Shal­i­mar or from Phyl­lis Bax­ter at 819-346-8273.

Both Hartt and Robin Cap­puc­cino will be at the Shal­i­mar sup­per. Hartt will also talk about her Child Haven ex­pe­ri­ences on Sun­day, April 12, at 10:30 a.m. at UUEstrie, 201 Main St., North Hat­ley. All are wel­come. For in­for­ma­tion, visit, Face­book UU Estrie, or call 819-842-4146.

Photo courtesy, Child Haven

Deb­o­rah Hartt


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