“Even as a mother protects with her life her child,so with a boundless heart one should cherish all living beings; radiating kindness over the entire world.”
~ The Buddha ~
Ramana’s Garden is home to over 60 at risk children and a free English medium school for over 160 students from Ramana’s Garden and local underprivileged families. The school provides classes from kindergarten to eighth grade.
You don’t have to be an orphan to live in Ramana’s Garden. You have to be at risk. Every child that comes through Ramana’s gate is here because they would be at risk of either being murdered, forced into prostitution, child labour, begging, starvation or total neglect if they weren’t here. For me a child who has seen their drunken abusive father or mother-in-law pour kerosene over their mother and burn her, is at risk in that house. A child who suffers severe malnutrition because their abusive father drinks all the food money leaving the family to starve is at risk.
Millions of Indian children are in dangerous circumstances due to having been born into the cycle of poverty, ignorance, and homelessness. Ramana’s Garden is working to rescue as many of them as possible. The Need is Great…We can’t change India but we can make a difference for one child at a time.
Two million Indian children die before the age of five; 42% of the world’s under-nourished children and 30% of the stunted growth children are Indian. Nowhere, not even in sub-Saharan Africa, are pregnant and lactating mothers as anemic and prone to die as in India today.
Here are the facts:
- Approximately 14% of children in India between the ages of 5 and 14 are child labourers.
- Every year 32,000 children die in work related accidents. Many children work excessive hours in dangerous environments for little or no pay and are subject to physical, verbal, sexual, and psychological abuse. These children are not only subject to the strains and hazards of their labour, but are also denied the education or training to enable them to escape the poverty trap.
- 42 million children in the 6 – 14 year age group in India do not attend school. (UNICEF)
- Only 47 of 100 children who enroll in class 1 reach class 8, meaning that more than half drop out before class 8. (SSA, Indian Government Education for All Movement).
- 16.64% of all Indian villages do not have facilities for primary schooling. (UNICEF)
- There are about 100 million children in India who do not attend any school and spend most of their time on the streets.
- 7-10% of street children are runaways. Many children who run away from home because they were beaten or sexually abused, others were abandoned or neglected or needed to work due to family circumstances. Some have lost family contact because of conflict, natural disasters, or HIV/AIDS.
- Street children live and work amidst trash, animals, and open sewers. They are exposed and susceptible to disease and are unlikely to be vaccinated or receive medical attention. Homeless children are exposed to the elements, have an uncertain supply of food, and are at high risk of suffering addiction, abuse, and illness. Children on the streets can often be seen scavenging rubbish heaps for a meal or sleeping between the tracks. They fall prey to drug peddlers, pimps and child traffickers. They are often beaten and sexually abused.
- · Even children who live with their families in the slums are seen living and playing in garbage dumps with distended bellies and plastic covered shacks for homes. They live together on the ground with open sores and bruises, small children struggling to care for even smaller children. These lives of poverty rob children of all material security and leave them ill, traumatized, and emotionally scarred. In the safest and most loving environment, it can take years to recover from such damage; on the streets, it is unlikely that they will ever heal.
How Ramana’s Garden is combating these problems:
Ramana’s Garden takes children from these brutal circumstances and provides a healthy and loving environment in which they can heal and grow. We provide children with a home and the security of an extended family, in addition to the education and training they need to become independent and functioning adults. At Ramana’s we know that human relationships are fundamental to all learning. We encourage our children to be creative and independent, and to be responsible for themselves and each other. We strive to create an environment where children can find out what they love to do and learn to do it better!
Ramana’s nursery and primary schools are specifically designed for creative learning. The layout is labyrinthine, non-hierarchical and non-institutional. The children participate in every aspect of their environment, from growing and cooking their own food to helping construct their own classrooms and living spaces. We are a school, but more importantly, we are also a community and an extended family that works and plays together. Like any family, we work with our children until they are ready to care for themselves. We believe every child has the right to quality education, proper nutrition, and primary healthcare. We do not cast our children out into the world because they’ve reached the age of 14 or 16, but assist them to obtain training or a university education, according to their interest and capability, to ensure they are prepared to make a success of their life.
We believe children learn what they live. We strive to create an environment that will help them create the future we all want to live in, by living as an extended family. We believe that with quality education, vocational skills, proper nutrition, and lots and lots of love, it is possible for children to overcome the vicious cycle of hunger, poverty, and discrimination they were born into. We know that all of our futures and the future of India depends on these very children to implement changes that will affect the consciousness of our nation and our world.
Goals for our children and our program:
- Ensure every child studying or living in Ramana’s Garden will enter the job market with sufficient skills to secure a valuable position for themselves.
- Instill in every child at Ramana’s Garden a sense of well-being and compassion for their fellow travellers on this journey through life.
- Empower and encourage every child growing up at Ramana’s to be able to take risks and grow into an integrated unique human being.
- Help our children learn to trust that we will all be given what we need, to accept what we are given with gratitude, and to keep saying YES to the unknown future. Expand our possibilities to help women and children create a positive future here in their homeland by increasing the number of children able to study and, if need be, live in Ramana’s Garden.