Forty-Four Flip-Flops Project

Maya (2 of 14)While traveling to Kerala, India to visit my Guru 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 the ground floor made into an office, a classroom, 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 up half the common room. The ‘study’ area had two or three wooden two-seat chair and table sets. The ‘classroom’ had only floor pillows.

The second floor of the building had only ropes for drying clothes, a half-wall around the perimeter and a roof. The private possessions were kept in mash bins similar to paper trash cans that we used in the West. There were no closets, hangers, or anything resembling privacy.

Until then I only heard of such places or read about them in the books such as ‘Three Cups of Tea’.

After speaking with the principal, I learned that it takes approximately $800 a month to cover basic 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 the US, that act was a bit of a shock.

NamasteAccording to the Chinese Medicine that I practice, shock is an emotion that initially affects the heart, and that is exactly what it did. I’ve committed to supporting $500 of the operating budget of this small community on a monthly basis and have been doing it ever since.

If you’d like to help with additional expenses (boys always find ways of turning themselves or growing out of their clothes), 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_acu or Zelle (ph 203.524.3411)
  • Download this flyer and post it in your office break room/cafeteria
  • Share on your social media channels
  • Visit the Portfolio page on my Photography Site and let me know if there is a print you’d like to buy. Please refrain from purchasing from the WIX site as the processing is expensive. Venmo or Zelle are preferred.
    (11×14 mounted prints – $80, 11×14 stretched canvas – $100, 11×14 framed prints – $120)
  • Purchase a muscle cramp spray

Thanks again,

– Mark.

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