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Update of the situation of a curfew in Tiruvannamalai/India April 7th 2020

Dear friends of our widows in India!We hope you are fine at home during these auspicious times, where most of the world populationis curfewed more or less in order to fight the Corona-virus. In gratefulness to many people, who do services relentlessly in supermarkets, transporting food in lorries, hospitals, pharmacies, police, garbage collection and many more we in our countries are still supplied with all important necessities, which make our life comfortable. The situation in Tiruvannamalai/ South India, where our project is taking place, the situation is very different since March 25th. The danger of infection is very high, because of the amount of people who live here very closely together. The government of India and the administration of Tamil Nadu have made every effort to keep the inhabitants apart from each other, although this is difficult. The curfew, which started the end of March is much more strict than in our countries. Only some few shops are some hours open. Food can be ordered and is delivered to those, who have money to buy. The vegetable market is open in early morning hours. Prices have increased because transport of the items has become a problem. People are not allowed outside the house, except one person, who willdo the errands for the whole family once a day.The problem is, that most of the inhabitants of Tamil Nadu are poor. There are many Sadhus, pilgrimsor homeless people, who do not have a roof over their heads and no occasion to wash their hands properly, so that contagion may be avoided. Most of the Indian people work on a day-to-day base, like our young widows do as coolies on the fields, in construction or cleaning services in hotels or homes. Little shopkeepers in town or along the roads are in the same situation. With the strict curfew, they are not able to earn their living. They are left with NOTHING to earn and NOTHING to eat. The collector (sort of major) of Tiruvannamalai is very capable and tries his best to distribute food to hungry people. A huge wave of love and assistance has happened in Tiru and provided meals for many people in need up to now. Yesterday our partner Manoharan joined in distributing 300 meals and many 25 kg bags of rice to widows and families in need. So at the moment, we are not concentrating on the widows, but on all people, who are hungry. Our budget was originally intended to spend for our young widows and their children. But what to do, if most of the people are needing support?Although everybody hopes the curfew will be over the 19th of April, this will probably not happen. The curfew will be extended for some more weeks and the situation, which is already critical, will become more severe. We cannot only take care of our widows (although we always have them in ourspecial focus) but the situation is that of simple survival. Many Indians are now providing funds to the poor. Our „Shanthimalai Yoga and Meditation Center“ (former Shanthimalai Ashram) will also provide a building for immigrant workers, who have no home here in Tiruvannumalai, where they can stay and get food from us. The situation will still become worse, because the curfew will take longer than 19th of April. We know, that we cannot eat money, but we can still provide food with money. Therefore we kindly ask for your kind donations to cope with this situation which is life-threatening for many of our friends, who live in Tiruvannamalai. Maybe it also helps you to consider our priviledged situation compared with the curfew of families in India, who are forced to stay in a little hut, where barely two people can sleep on the floor in the hottest time oft he year, where temperature climbs up to 40° Celsius.The economical consequences of this pandemi will be shocking everywhere in many countries, but will hit the poorest of the poor the most. We are totally aware that the poorest and the weakest of the country, which are our widows and their children will need special support, probably also in future. But at the moment it is a matter of survival not only for the widows, but for most of the population.
Please help with your donation. We are very grateful and are sure, that you will feel the bliss and joy of taking care of people you do not know deep in your heart.

With gratitude and blessings from Arunachala

In the name of Om Shanthi NGO, all members, friends and widows
Anna and Paulette

Dear friends of the widows! March 2020

Like always time has passed so fast in Tiruvannamalai/India, where Paulette and I stayed during the winter saison. Being back home, I wonder if you get our newsletters regularly, so that I can carry on, where I left off last time. If not, you can go to our website: www.widowsofindia.de : „How it all began..“ and read it.I will start with the most beautiful joys: We have found two enchanting, smart social workers: Priya, who started work already last year, Anuscha is new. Both have an open heart for our women, respect, compassion, knowledge of the English language and computer capacities. They all have this! When they descend from their two-wheelers in the middle of the slums of Tiru in their beautiful saris, it is clear, that everything will be turning out very well. It actually does, because behind them are Manoharan, Lioba and many dear sponsors like YOU!Priya and Anuscha will write short reports about the help needing widows and their children, they have visited.We invite the women with their children into our office on Saturday morning, so that weget to know their situation and their needs. Many of them only want support for the education of their children. The basic needs of school uniform, school bag and school utensils are always granted. Most of the women are working and living on the minimum level of life. They earn 150 Rupies per day for work in the fields or in the peanut-factory, which is: 2 Dollars a day. They manage to survive, but are not able to afford a decent school education for their children, which they are longing for most. The education of their children is their highest goal, which we want to support.Paulette has got a sponsor child since one year, whose school is sponsored by her. She got into a veryintimate contact with her and her mother this winter and has suggested, that we create a new program , where sponsors from outside countries will pay for the education of the children of the widows. We all agreed and love to initiate this new programm.Here are the costs for the education of children, who will be supported according to their personal capacities: (All details are meant for one year.)
Government School up to 12th standart:……….100 $
Private School up to 12th standart:……………….250 $
Medical College/ 2 years…………………………….300 $ (for becoming a nurse)
Medical College/ 5 years…………………………….500 $ (for becoming a doctor)
Engineer College/4 years…………………………….400 $
Mechanic/Polytechnic College/ 2 years………..300 $

These may vary according to corrections of cours during the years.)

The paying of the education fees is a huge joy for the mothers, who earn just the necessary amount for surviving, but cannot afford the education fees, or medical expenses or the expenses for the repair of their houses. Please give us a note, if you are willing to sponsor a child and her/his education. The connection between you and the child will be very personal, also if you cannot come to India for a visit. We will do every effort, to maintain a relationship between you and your sponsorchild.
My sponsorchild ́s name is Nandini. She is living with her mother in a hut in the slums in the center ofTiruvannamalai, how you cannot imagine in your worst dreams. Both belong to the lowest cast: the Dalits. There exist no marriages, because nobody has money to pay the dowry. Nandinis mother was left by the father of her child already when she was pregnant.The mother of Nandini kept their lives by working in the peanut-factory (2 $ a day) and selling peanuts in the evening on the streets. Nandini helped her, when she was older. Nandini is very intelligent and financed her school herself, as well as the first year of her studies in the Teachers College, which she attended not personally but by letters, that would be send to her.The second year, she was not able to go on. It is me, an old retired teacher, who is so happy to support a young woman, who will be a perfect teacher in future. Ido not know, when spending money has made me so happy.Another problem and sorrow for the widows and their children is the medical treatment, if necessary. This is also a problem for our widows in Old Age Home. Up to now it was payed by Shanthimalai Ashram, who supported us in this respect. Now they cannot do this anymore. So, when Nagapushnam, a widow in our Home needed intensive care in our hospital for 10 days, the costs amounted to 65.000 Rupies (about 700 $). These costs are not in our budget. So we very much hope for donations of our dear donors in USA and Germany.I want to tell you about visiting the house of Marimuthu and her 3 children. She had given away one child, because there was no room on the floor of her little, miserable hut, where it could sleep. In addition to this, the hut was standing in the middle of the sewage system. There was no doubt, that we had to rebuild her little house immediately. The costs of 2000 $ were immediately donated by Lioba. We started building one week later and 5 weeks later a beautiful little house was ready.Another very happy event was the planned pick up of Lakshmi, an 80 year old widow, with a widow rent of 1000 Rupies (about 14 $), who lived in a little village 20 miles away from Tiruvannamalai. Her daughter lived 4 hours away and said, she could not take care of her mother. On arrival, we heard that Lakshmi was on her way to say good-bye to all her friends in the village. In the meantime we spend a great time with very friendly neighbourwomen, who told us, that Lakshmi is very well supported by all the women in the village. When the daughter finally brought her mother, we knew, that Lakshmi wanted to stay in this beautiful little village, where she was born and stayed all her lifetime. She cried of happiness, when we told her, we would not take her, but leave her in this beautiful community of her village. Maybe we will have a little party next year, when we visit her again????Our Om Shanthi Old Age Home is a joy for us and everybody, who visits us. We had 5 concerts with many guests from the whole world. Selvi Kumari who suffers from shizophrenia had to go back into the clinic, where we picked her up last year, to be treated again with new medication. We are very grateful to the doctor, who came immediately when we called him and takes good care of her.A special joy was the visit of Anita, an Australian accupuncturist, who treated all of us with needles. Maybe her settling down in Tiruvannamalai next year, would be a great joy for all of us.Now I only can always repeat to express my deep gratitude for your dear donations, your good wishes and prayers and for your interest in the life of our widows and our work. Without your dear support nothing could ever happen. May the joy, we experience with this work, come to you! There is always our invitation to come to us to visit us in India, in order to participate the joy and love!With lots of loves from all our staff and the widows

Paulette and Anna

March 2019


Dearest friends of the Widows of India,

We share this update to inform you of the latest happenings for the widows in South India, with deepest gratitude in our hearts for all your support, without which none of the following events would have occurred.

Our Om Shanthi Old Age Home has become a strong beam of light in Tiruvannamalai and the outlying area. Our project has become very well-known as being a very well-run support and haven for aging and abandoned women who here find refuge and loving care during their final years.

Public and civil authorities are recommending our services, as do the many westerners who come to visit after learning of our services to both old and young widows (who very often have multiple children).

The Om Shanthi Old Age Home has become a safe haven, currently housing 29 beautiful goddesses (ages range 70 – 93) who are lovingly cared for round the clock by a staff of nine wonderful women (also widows).

I (Anna) spend three months of the year in Tiruvannamalai, and Paulette typically spends 6 weeks here. Kirsti Shields (of Journeys of Solutions) and her daughter also experienced the magic and beauty of the widows in the home this year.

Together, we all share in the efforts to contribute the maintenance of this worthy place, where destitute elderly women can live peacefully through the end of their days, instead of out on the streets.


This aspect of our project (the Old Age Home) is flourishing beautifully, and we now have directed our attention to another “hotspot”, where help is urgently needed.

There are many, many young widows with children whose husband has recently passed away, and who now stand facing a huge void in their lives. They have lost their husband, the children their father, and the women now face the need to support themselves and their children, alone, without resources.

We have three social workers who go out in to the community to seek out and screen the needs of those who are now in desperate straits, often with little to eat. Our social workers are very well attuned to the suffering of these young mothers, as they are widows, themselves.

Many live in the very rural and remote outskirts of Tiruvannamalai. The widows and their children are so very grateful when we arrive with a sack of rich, dhal, and cooking oil! We then sit with them, listen to their story, and determine how we can best address their most urgent needs. We help each family according to their specific need. Every situation is different.

Many times, it is medical care which is most immediately needed: HIV, malnutrition, and depression is widespread. Their little hut’s roof in which they live needs repair – rain comes through in the rainy season, while they sleep on the floor.

We then look at helping to find work for these most often illiterate young women, whose only education has been to care for their families.

Last, but not least! So very, very important is the education of the children to whom is owed a fighting chance for a future in their country, which is so quickly developing its power and resources. All widows are very strongly concerned about the future of their children, and it is ingrained in all children that education is the key to their rescue from a life of poverty.

All children are provided with schoolbags, school uniforms, and other materials which they need. We also look to support children with higher education, as well. Currently, we are giving support to 95 widows and otherwise destitute women, along with 172 students, of all ages.

The subdued flickering of hope seen in the eyes of the widows and their children upon our first visit is replaced with great joy – we see this in their eyes upon our follow-up visits made after some time of support.

It is because of each and every one of you that we are able to share in this reward for our endeavors, which we herewith share with you! Without your kind support, none of this could have happened! There are so, so many more who need our help!

With deep gratitude!
Anna & Paulette

November 2017

Dear friends of our widows abroad!

We got again wonderful news from our friends in India and want to share them with you. Hopefully you find time to read this article.
Thanks to your generous donations we could start construction work on our third house now in September, which will finally be our hospice. Originally intended to start earlier, it was not possible, because all Tamil Nadu suffered a serious drought throughout the year and we did not have water to mix the concrete. We had to undergo a lot of efforts to get water, because our old well was totally dried out. The first boring was not successful, although it was 200 m deep. A water expert from Germany volunteered to help and found water in our garden only about 20 m deep. We are all so happy to have now a reliable source of good drinking water. Finally in August heavy rain came, so everybody in Tiruvannamalai is happy and construction work could start.
The Indian custom called “Boomi Pooja” (a ceremony) before construction starts, was done the 15th of September. Workers and owner have to ask the permission of Mother Earth to build the new home. Since then construction work has progressed fast, we might celebrate inauguration in January 2018.

The new hospice is needed urgently. Often elderly abandoned women are found in a very terrible condition. They need very special and intense care. Ghandhimathi, whom we found last Christmas on our mainroad died after 6 weeks. She expressed very often, how happy she was to be in our home and to be cared for so lovingly during her last time on earth.

Saratha is a widow, who benefitted a lot from the special care, we gave her after her arrival in our home. Relatives had dumped her also on the side of the main road, asking her to wait, until they come back to pick her up. This did not happen. She was lying there, unable to walk, barely alive. We brought her to hospital and had her examined. Her legs are not functioning any more, so she probably will never be able to walk, but the problem is always, that they did not get enough to eat over a long time. When she was strong enough we brought her to our Om Shanthi Home. Unable to stand and extremely weak, she could not sleep in a bed and could not get to the bathroom to relieve herself. Since she was from Kerala and did not speak Tamil we had to find a translator to communicate with her.

Her strong efforts to help herself were very moving for all of us. She dragged herself to the bathroom with her arms and tried to wash her hair and body herself. Slowly Saratha won a place in the hearts of all the widows in the house. Today she is the darling of everybody!
Kannama is mentally disturbed and was picked up from the street. She was brought to the Rangamal Hospital to see how we can help her best. In spite of all the misery they have endured a long time, which we cannot at least imagine, they keep up their natural dignity.
The second very important part of the Om Shanthi project is support of young widows and their children. We protect them, teach them handicraft, provide education for their children and the young widows. We try to find jobs for them according to their talents and capacities so that they are capable to take care for their children themselves. For this purpose we created a councelling center in Shantimalai Handicraft Center. At the moment our social worker Chandra is busy with finding young widows in the far away villages because the women are too shy and hopeless to come by themselves. Together we discuss opportunities how to help each of these young women and their children. We want to avoid that the children are sent into an orphanage and the widows become prostitutes.
There is so much misery in the world and so much help needed. Please continue to give us your kind donation. Without your help we cannot do any work.
With deep gratitude and warm regards from all our helpers and widows.