In our previous email newsletter we had mentioned the Ashram’s desire to distribute clothes and blankets to the children of Ulanga village to protect them from the winter cold. Thanks to generous donations from many of our donors and friends we were able to raise the necessary funds to meet this goal. By Lord Krishna’s grace, we were able to distribute blankets and clothes not only to the children of Ulanga village, but to children in three other villages as well. Thanks to all of you these children will be able sleep soundly and stay warm throughout the winter.

I wish all of you could have been there to see the faces of the children as we handed them the blankets and clothes. Words cannot describe the happiness they felt. Never before had they been given anything like this. They could not understand why our donors living across the world would send such a gift to an unknown person. We explained to them Lord Krishna’s statement in the Gita, wherein He says ‘aham bija pradah pita’, “I am the father of all living entities.”

How can anyone be a stranger when we all have a common father? All of these children are actually our extended families, our brothers and sisters, all children of God. The friends, donors and members of the Bhaktivedanta Ashram are not sending gifts to unknown strangers, they are sending their heartfelt love to their own family, their own brothers and sisters. We are all united as one family under the shelter of God.

This month we have added the villages of Neuli Adivasi and Kothar to our food distribution program. The photos above and below are from programs held in these villages, as well as the blanket and cloth distributions held in Ulanga, Kothar, Randia, and Neuli Adivasi. On January 1st we held a special distribution of food in Kacheri, feeding over 3,000 people.

In the end of January the Bhaktivedanta Ashram plans to begin installing tube wells and hand pumps in one dozen villages in Bhadrak district facing water scarcity. Each tube well will provide clean drinking water for over 300 people in a village.

Last month we mentioned the Ashram’s plans for opening a school to provide free education to poor and needy children in and around Bhadrak. This project will involve the construction of a permanent school building for up to 500 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.

We are happy to report that this project is moving ahead. The Bhaktivedanta Ashram has acquired the necessary land for building the school. We are currently in the process of receiving clearance for constructing on the land, and hope to begin construction as soon as this is completed. The total cost for the school building will be approximately $25,000 USD (Rs. 12 lakhs). The building will provide 5,000 square feet of space for accommodating the children’s classrooms, and will double as an emergency shelter in the event of a natural disaster such as a cyclone or flood. We require to collect half of the project funds in advance before construction can commence.  If you would like to help donate towards the school project, you can use the donation box on the right. Donations sent by check should have the words ‘School Project’ in the memo field.

I would like to again thank all of our friends, donors and life members who have contributed towards these projects, and especially to all those who helped sponsor the blanket and cloth distribution last month. Some photos of the recent relief work are included below.

Four year old Jagu Munda from Randiya village receives a winter blanket.

Distribution of blankets and clothes to children in Randia Village, Bhadrak district, Orissa.

Children in Randia village awaiting distribution of blankets and clothes.

Arrival of blankets in Ulanga village.

Children in Ulanga village receiving blankets.

Distribution of winter blankets to children in Neula Adivasi village.

A three year old child from Neula Adivasi village feeding his younger brother.

Distribution of food to children of Neula Adivasi village.

Children of Neula Adivasi village enjoying prasadam.

Children of Neula Adivasi village enjoying prasadam.

Distribution of food in Kothar village.

Children of Kothar village receiving prasadam.

Devotees of Bhaktivedanta Ashram preparing prasadam for the food relief.