<![CDATA[World Family Foundation - Blog]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 01:46:02 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Get Ready To Smile!]]>Sun, 14 Jun 2015 01:25:45 GMThttp://worldfamilyfnd.org/blog/get-ready-to-smilePicture
Get Ready To Smile - An Important Announcement:
Do you order items through Amazon? World Family Foundation is now signed up with Amazon Smile. This means that when you order items through Amazon, they will donate .5% to WFF!

Here's how it works:
On your first visit to Amazon Smile, you can search for and select World Family Foundation, Ojai CA to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. From then on, just go to Smile.Amazon.com instead of the regular Amazon site to place your orders. They will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will result in a donation. If you have Amazon Prime, your Prime benefits will still apply as always.

As part of their corporate responsibility program Amazon will donate .5% of all your orders to WFF on your behalf and at no cost to you, just by signing up!!!

IMAGINE!
This will mean so much over time for the children of WFF, if all our sponsors and supporters sign up with Amazon Smile... for more information just go to www.smile.amazon.com and search for World Family Foundation, Ojai California.


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<![CDATA[My first Trip to India January 2014- WFF Board Member Martha Lira]]>Thu, 06 Mar 2014 05:38:52 GMThttp://worldfamilyfnd.org/blog/my-first-trip-to-india-january-2014-wff-board-member-martha-liraPicture
I was first introduced to the World Family Foundation (WFF) three years ago by a very good friend.  On the WFF website, he showed me what I found to be a particularly poignant two minute video, and immediately decided to become a sponsor.

This past January, along with board members Bruce and Leslie Bouche and sponsors Jerry and Pat Graybill, I had the privilege to visit the Prashanti School children’s residential home in a village area outside Puri, India.  Although it was my first trip to India, it instantly felt like I was returning home from a long journey.  The children, who were all gathered by the main gate, welcomed us with such respect the moment we entered the premises.  As we all sat in the school patio, Elizabeth Burnett, founder of Prashanti International School (PIS) and WFF board member, introduced us to all of the children one by one, each with a shy, yet beautiful smile.  I was especially excited to finally meet the little girl who I have been sponsoring for the last three years.   During our visit we had the opportunity to take pictures and get to know each other.  All the children seemed to be so happy and full of life, despite the so very few materialistic pleasures.  Our first visit day's visit ended with devotional chanting and evening prayers.

As we headed back to our hotel that evening, I quickly realized it would always be an adventure riding on an auto rickshaw.  The village had a different look and feel in the evenings; it reminded me of my childhood vacations visiting my aunt in Guanajuato, Mexico.  The smell of burning wood filled the air, as people would sit outside their homes, while children ran and played barefooted.  Others would crowd around the street food vendors, in the midst of cows and dogs lying on the dirt roads.

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We spent a lovely week with the children and had the opportunity to attend their Annual Day school festival.  Leslie face-painted some of the little ones for their recital, while I walked around taking pictures of them getting ready for their Annual Day performances.  The children gave presentations on different countries and performed dances and Indian mythological dramas.  The presentations not only focused on historical events but also on religion, diversity and human values.


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We returned to the school the next day to distribute the clothes we had collected back home for the children.  The kids were so appreciative and happy for their new outfits.  Elizabeth had one of the older boys translate to the younger children that it is important to understand that the gifts were not from people in America, but really from God, who had given their Aunties and Uncles kind hearts to share their generosity with them.  One by one the kids lined up to receive their outfits, and walked to a room where they bowed as a sign of respect and gratitude at the school altar.   PS takes pride in maintaining the children’s culture and religious beliefs. 


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In the afternoon, we took some of the kids to the beach, where we rode camels and ponies. It was fun to ride the auto rickshaw to the beach, laughing and taking pictures with two of the little girls, Dipa and Madhusmita.  The boys wasted no time at all and jumped into the water.  Little Dipa was a bit apprehensive to join the water fun at first, but little by little holding my hand we went in together.  Madhusmita on the other hand, did not want to go in, so she stayed close to shore making sand castles.  Bruce and I were in the water playing with the kids, but keeping a watchful eye on Biki, an active and fearless little guy who I feared would go in too far in the water.  The children had so much fun, and that in itself is priceless!


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Jerry and I took four of the older boys, Sunil, Pitamber, Rakesh and Ranjan, to the Sun Temple in Konark.  Before arriving at Konark the boys took us on a boat ride down the river, making our day with the boys an amazing one.   It made Uncle Jerry and Auntie Martha feel very special.


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On one occasion, we arrived early at Prashanti International School to spend time with the students in their classrooms.  Before class, the kids, in their bright yellow uniforms and red sweaters all lined up in rows with their hands together and closed eyes to recite the Morning Prayer.  The teachers escorted the students to a communal room to continue with devotional morning chanting.  Little Jaga caught my attention.  He was chanting with such devotion and enthusiasm.  It moved me to see how at such early age, Jaga had a sense of devotion.  It was pure joy to spend time with them in class, seeing how all of them are full of potential.  


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On our last day at PIS, several of the older girls painted Pat’s feet with henna, while Leslie and I got mahendi art on our hands and designs on our nails.  The girls also braided my hair and added beads to it.  The girls are so bright and talented.  We had a lovely time, laughing, taking pictures and bonding.  It was hard to say goodbye but I know that I will be back to visit very soon.        


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<![CDATA[Cyclone Phailin Hits Puri - October 2013 - by Elizabeth Burnett, Director]]>Wed, 30 Oct 2013 23:45:58 GMThttp://worldfamilyfnd.org/blog/cyclone-phailin-hits-puri-october-2013-by-elizabeth-burnett-director
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Super Cyclone Phailin just off the coast of India on October11, 2013
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Dear World Family Foundation friends, sponsors and donors,

          First of all, we send you our deepest thanks for all of your loving prayers at the time of the huge cyclone here. It was reported that winds reached 230 kilometers per hour (143miles/hour) and was the strongest cyclone ever recorded. But by grace of God and all of your prayers, the winds hit from the northeast and actually were pushing the storm surge back out to sea here in the southeast side of Puri. Otherwise there would have been gigantic tidal waves and all would have been washed away. Again thanks to your prayers and the protection of the Divine Hand, all are safe.    

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Here in cyclone times schools are often used for storm shelters. Our boys’ building hostel became such a storm shelter for many of the neighbors also, especially mothers with small babies. Other local residents took shelter at the Digambara Baba Ashram (Totapuri, guru of Sri Ramakrishna) which is a few hundred feet away. It is high up on a sand dune but has no buildings with adequate protection from flying objects, just a big verandah and many of their trees also fell in the high winds. Maybe one hundred or so local families went there during the night of the highest winds. 

So this made us aware of the urgent need for our new school building which is about to be constructed to also become a real storm shelter for all here! We are hoping to have Larsen and Toubro, one of the biggest construction companies in India, do the construction at cost as part of their social responsibility requirement.   Any donations that can be given to complete this project will have lasting impact both in terms of education and safety for all the children here.


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We are sending some photos of the storm damage at the hostel and school. One big akhasa tree fell and uprooted the washroom at the hostel also. But again by God’s grace it fell on the playground sands and not on the boys’ building where all of us were staying upstairs. The washroom is now being rebuilt as it is needed daily for washing dishes and clothes. At the school down the road many cashew trees or at least their branches were broken and it took a week of all day clean up to make the school ready for reopening on Oct. 21. There is still a lot of water on the 2 acre property. The price of vegetables has tripled and today we are anticipating more heavy rain from the south, but no high winds. This cyclone season is about over, thank God. Usually cyclones do not come so far north on the Bay of Bengal. But weather conditions are more extreme all over the world now.


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           The little children, bless them, rebound quickly and are playing happily between storms. Again thanks to God and all of your prayers, none were killed or injured in the cyclone. Most were with their mothers as it was Durga Puja holiday. Most of them live in huts or very poorly built one room brick houses and walls can easily cave in. Most of their houses had storm damage or at least trees down outside, as is true for all the residents of Puri district here. Two of our senior teachers live on the northeast side of Puri where the storm hit first and their houses still have 3 feet or more of sea water on the ground floor level. 


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One of the beautiful moments after the cyclone was when many of our ex-students came to help in the clean up afterwards. Without their help the school and hostel could never have reopened on time. As we teach at the school, education is one fourth academics and three fourths character. We are so happy to report that many of these young men that you have helped to educate have grown into such beautiful giving souls and came to give back at this time of crisis. Again thank you all for your love and prayers for the children and all staff and residents here in Puri. 

We send you our love,
Elizabeth Burnett, Jagannath Khuntia (M.D.) and all the children and staff of Prashanti School, Puri


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<![CDATA[Annual Day at Prashanti School, Puri, India]]>Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:14:38 GMThttp://worldfamilyfnd.org/blog/annual-day-at-prashanti-school-puri-indiaPicture
Through the eyes of WFF board members/sponsors Bruce & Leslie, California

Annual Day was celebrated for Prashanti International School (PIS) on January 20, 2013.  It was attended by a large number of people from around the Puri area - families of the students who are enrolled at PIS, families who want to enroll their children at PIS, guardians and family members of our sponsored children who live at the residential children’s home (PS), plus many well-wishers and special invited guests.  As WFF board members and sponsors, Bruce and I were very fortunate to be present at the event, and to take part in the handing out of academic awards.  

The program opened with special prayers and chants sung by PS students.  Awards were presented to several children from each grade level for outstanding academic achievement, and for good character and habits.  

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Children of different grade levels then gave verbal reports (without using any notes!) in English, Hindi and Oriya languages on topics including historical role models important to India, items of interest such as “The Cow” and “The Computer”, and a favorite story of the children called “The Squirrel and Lord Rama.”  We were so impressed by the confidence with which they each handled the microphone and by how well they knew their material.  Then two little ones each gave a special biographical report on their Grandmother and Grandfather who were up on stage with them - almost like “show and tell”!  It was very touching and the proud smiles on the grandparents’ faces brought tears to our eyes.

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The cultural program included a stirring tabla performance by several of the boys,  a stellar solo Classical Odissi Dance performance by Sunil Patra (standard 9), charming contemporary and folk dances by different age groups of children, elaborately costumed  dance stories, and remarkable skits telling classic stories out of traditional Indian mythology. 

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Some of the dances and skits were so humorous that we were again brought to tears, but this time from laughing so hard!  It was obvious to us that the children loved performing, and that they had practiced many hours to do such a great job.  




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One of the most charming parts of the Annual Day event was when the youngest PIS kids in Lower Kindergarten came on stage dressed in costumes from cultures and countries from around the globe.  With the help of their teachers, each one greeted the audience by saying “hello” in the language of the area they represented... “Bonjour, Salaam Alekum,  Ni Hao, Guten Tag, Hola, Konnichi wa,” and so on.  They were so cute and they looked so proud of themselves.  The families in the audience were positively beaming.  As an “international” school, PIS is truly expanding the horizons of these village children.

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What the children accomplished in this production is truly remarkable - a testament to the creativity and hard work of their teachers and to the loving dedication of  WFF and Prashanti International School founder, Elizabeth Burnett.  We were so grateful to have had the chance to be there to see for ourselves.  Bruce and I encourage all who can visit Prashanti School and PIS to make the effort to go - you will never forget the experience!   

Many blessings to all from Leslie & Bruce Bouché

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<![CDATA[Our Recent Trip to Prashanti School]]>Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:14:09 GMThttp://worldfamilyfnd.org/blog/our-recent-trip-to-prashanti-schoolPicture
by Sara and Allen, Washington

For many years our family has had a close connection with India, but this was our first actual visit. On Jan. 22, 2003 we flew from Chennai (Madras) to Puri, excited at the prospect of meeting Pradeep, our sponsored child and of seeing his Prashanti School. Elizabeth Burnett, vice-president of WORLD FAMILY FOUNDATION, happened to be in India and at the school at this time, and arranged for Sambhu, the son of the General Secretary of Prashanti School, to meet us with a driver at the airport. Before we reached the school, we had been in India for two weeks. However, the old culture of India in Puri was quite different from what we had already experienced. The drive from the airport was full of scenes that kept ones eyes and curiosity well over- stimulated, not to mention the repetition of some form of mantra to keep you safe! (Drivers in India seem to have no rules; but they would pass any obstacle course in the US).

We settled into our hotel after a wonderful drive around Lord Jagannath Temple, one of the most famous temples in India. Sambhu, our guide, translator, and also an executive board member of Prashanti School, is a worshipper priest there. His father, Sri Somanath Khuntia, who is the General Secretary of the school, is a scholar and writer on Jagannath Temple. He can share many stories and experiences of this extraordinary holy place. We wanted to go to the school right away and soon were traveling with the driver and Sambhu through the narrow, crowded streets. Puri is a seaside vacation place, and also a honeymoon destination. There were many families, fishermen, camels and ponies on the beach. So much to look at. We headed north through the town past the village where Pradeep's mother worked. (His father is mad and abandoned the family.)

The school is situated in a private, quieter part of Puri. Goodness, I don?t think we could have found it on our own-- so many little streets and turns. But the first things one sees are the gates and a guard. I thought how thoughtful and safe the children must feel. Once inside the school grounds, the building, which is home to 54 children, is clean and colorful with a garden on the right. The back area of the garden is where the boys' building will soon be built. It was almost dark and we were just in time for bhajans (chanting of sacred songs).

One cannot describe the heart awakening experience of silently coming in during bhajan. All the children were on the floor, legs folded, eyes closed and singing. They did not know we were there. Pradeep was one of the lead singers. It was sublime. When the children opened their eyes and saw us, there was giggling, smiles and shyness. But they continued to sing happily for another half hour. We were glad.

Afterwards,we were taken outside to sit; for the hour of mandatory darkness that the city has imposed to save electricity was upon us. So by candlelight and flashlight we met our Pradeep. It is customary for the children in India to show respect by touching the feet of elders.. How surprising to have your little one do this at once. He expressed the little English he knew and we had Sambhu translate.
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Saturday we took him, with Sambhu as our guide, to Konark Sun Temple (about 20 km from Puri). He had never seen the ocean, even though he lived 1/2 mile from it all his life. We took him down to the ocean, made sand castles and rode the camel and a pony ( a fear he quickly overcame). Our day included ice cream at the temple, and visiting temples of the monkey god Hanuman and other gods, amidst holding of hands and later lunch at his first restaurant. Perhaps it is not common in India, but we invited the driver to eat with us too. For the success of this journey, we wanted Pradeep to see that all were equal in our hearts. (The driver kept us safe on the roads!) Returning home in the taxi Pradeep fell asleep, and we decided one day of adventures was over. The next day was Republic Day, and we arrived early at the school to see the flag raised and the children recite national anthem and songs. Then all went off to school in uniforms. We had time to tour the school and meet the staff and several small children who study in pre-school at the school.. Some of them danced for us!


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Returning later, Pradeep helped us with a puja near Lord Jagannath Temple. This is a special offering with prayers specifically offered for someone. Sambhu had arranged a priest to conduct this atop a hospital building, for as westerners we were not allowed into the temple. Pradeep helped with the offering of banana leafs, banana, coconut, and garlands. As we did the service, the monkeys came to observe (and to await the banana leftovers, I am sure.) This ceremony was particularly special, and we still feel the effects of its power today. Many pictures were taken! On our way back to the school we saw a wedding procession, earlier having seen a burial procession. Both were done with music, many songs, and lots of relatives. We were sad to have missed a school yoga demonstration and another bhajan while at our hotel resting.

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We returned to the school in the evening for a special meal that had been made in the temple and served on banana leaves, called Mahaprasad. It was delicious! We then went upstairs to watch it served to the children out of huge pots. How devotional they were as they waited with eyes closed, saying their prayers, and so appreciative of their food. We never saw a fight amongst the children-only fun tussling and playing. Saying goodbye to Pradeep was heart -wrenching. He became particularly close to my husband Allen. At parting time, we started to cry and he wiped the tears from our eyes. We whispered secret remembrances to him and hugged him. Then he returned to his seat on the floor for his Mahaprasad. He sat with his eyes closed, a tear falling down his cheek also. Our last glances at each other were long stares, drinking in each other. Oh, the experience is definitely worth repeating many times, as these dear little children grow up. This is what your small monthly gift is helping to provide: the love, the consistent security of a home, encouragement towards a firm education and occupational training , and a passbook for their future when they leave the school at 16. We offer our deepest gratitude to all the staff at Prashanti School for providing a home to 54 children (and soon more!) We feel deeply happy for being a part of this loving and very protective "net"-work for these very dear little children.


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