India Interviews & Research
Well, it is getting very near the time for me to leave for my 25-day trip to India. Two weeks to go! View my itinerary here. I’m very excited, for many reasons. First, I am so excited to return to India – a place that has become near and dear to my heart, and which I love completely. Second, I cannot wait to see “my kids” again – Santosh, Daina, Pinky, Mami, Sumi, Kalpana, Rajakantra, Papuni, Tapas, and so many others. That is the last week of my trip. Third, the first two weeks will be spent traveling to many different places conducting interviews and research for my book. I am really excited about some of the people I’ve gotten to know and the incredible organizations I will visit – including UNICEF, Child Aid India, Richard Gere’s Heroes Project, World Vision, and several organizations that work on AIDS issues. Some of the people and their work are such incredible stories to me, that I cannot wait to tell their stories in my book. I thought I would introduce you to some of the people I am most excited about interviewing:
Anjali Gopalan runs the Naz Foundation, providing community training and education about AIDS, and a Care Home for children who “have nowhere else to go.” Anjali is supported by Richard Gere and his foundation.
Salaam Baalak Trust works with homeless and runaway children who live in Mumbai’s railway stations. The organization was started after Mira Nair made a movie called Salaam Bombay! about these kids. At the time her mother did not even know these kids existed. She was so moved by her daughter’s film that the two of them started Salaam Baalak Trust with proceeds from the movie, providing the railway kids with food, education, and protection from predators.
Swapan Mukherjee runs an organization called CCD which rescues kids out of slave labor. He rescued a boy named Sahiful Mondal from child slavery some years ago, who went on to make an award-winning film about his experiences at the age of 13! Read this amazing story here.
I will visit an orphanage for AIDS children called Little HEARTS home. This home is run by Prasanna Kumar, who also conducts AIDS training in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Throughout India, HIV-positive children – and even negative children who retain the stigma of AIDS because their parents died of it – are being kicked out of schools and orphanages, and doctors refuse to treat them. The stigma is very great, especially in the rural areas. Prasanna has created a home for the few children he can afford to take in, but can take in many more with funding. I have donated money for them to build bathrooms for the children – pictured below. I’m very excited to finally meet Prasanna and his children!