Forty Four Flip-Flops Project
While traveling to Kerala, India in February 2014, I was taken to a Maya orphanage that 22 children call home. There was a shack looking structure with four rooms on a ground floor made into an office, a class-room, sleep/study quarters and a small kitchen cramped in the area approximately 80 by 60 square feet. The wooden base triple bunk beds had rolled color mattresses and were taking half the common room. The ‘study’ area had two or three wooden two-seat chair and table sets. The ‘classroom’ had only pillows.
The second floor of the building had only roof and half-wall around the perimeter. The private possessions were kept in mash bins similar to paper trash cans that we used to in the West. There were no closets, hangers or anything resembling privacy.
Until then I only heard of such places or read in books such as ‘Three Cups of Tea’.
After speaking with the principal, I learned that it takes approximately $800 a month to cover base expenses such as food, rent, electricity and salaries for the 3 people (!!!) running the place. After donating a monthly operating expense I received the usual ‘Namaste’ but then the principal, a man in his 60s leaned down on his knees and touched my feet. Now, this might be a custom of showing respect and gratitude in India but for someone who was born in Russia and lives in US that act was a bit of a shock.
According to Chinese Medicine that I practice, shock is an emotion that initially affects the heart and that exactly what it did. I’ve committed to supporting $500 of the operating budget of this small community on monthly basis.
If you’d like to help with monthly expenses or future construction, no contribution is too small. Please email or call/text 203.524.3411 if you have questions regarding this project. Thank you for taking the time to learn about this initiative.
How can you help:
- Donate what you can (it costs about $10 a week to support one child). Ways to contribute: Venmo @Mark-Gutkin or Zelle (ph 203.524.3411)
- Download this flyer and post it at your office break room/cafeteria
- Share https://markgutkin.com/44-flip-flops/ on your social media channels
- Purchase a print (11×14 mounted prints – $80, 11×14 stretched canvas – $100, 11×14 framed prints – $120)
- Purchase a muscle cramp spray