Friday, November 13, 2009

ADIA will no longer be taking donations.

our work in Hyderabad is currently suspended, as I remain out of the country at present.

this blog will continue to be updates, though infrequently, as further events transpire.

Monday, October 5, 2009

No update in quite some time - we have left India for Nepal after the expiry of our Indian visas. We're in communication with our friend in Hyderabad who is networking with local advocates and Fernandez Hospital to have Adia treated by their charity allotment.

Presently she has been admitted to the gov't hospital in Mahbubnagar, the family's native village. While not as good as a private hospital, it will at least keep her off the streets, in a decently clean place with a certain degree of medical care.

Unfortunately I am unable to update this blog regularly at present. Kathmandu has power cuts which can last several hours daily, and presently it is festival season (Dashain/Diwali) in which much of the city closes at odd times.

We will not be able to do any direct work with Adia, obviously, until we are able to return to India. While here in Nepal we're attending NGO workshops, collaborating with extant groups on projects here, and learning everything we can about NGOs and how to overcome to obstacles commonly faced in charity work in the 'third world'.

Updates will be provided whenever one is available. Thank you for continuing to keep Adia, her family, and the many children like her in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

today's peek

How wonderful to see the ladies of the family crowded around Adia, happy to see her take her little meal!

She has a long way to go still - but I do think she is looking a bit better, in aspect perhaps more than apperance. She is much more active, and her lung infection (she was admitted to Lotus with a rattling cough, but the notes say it was gone by the time she left)! Now she just needs to gain more strength, and of course weight. After shall come physical therapy - and also immunizations, of which she has had none.

I wish I was already back fomr Nepal, so excited I am about the prospect of a safe maternity home for Adia's mother and excellent care for Adia as well. I wish I had been able to make it happen tonight, but I'm afraid I rushed things a bit and was simply unable to meet with those who gould give the go-ahead. Tomorrow I will have our friends with me when I visit - we have been so blessed to gain the support of a influential and well-known person in the community - and I feel that our chances for a quick hospital admission will be better!

adia on film!

Lately we have realised that a great many people are quite uninformed or unaware of the conditions that exist within India.

We tried to capture the scene which has remained essentially the same since we first met little Adia in this spot - to show veiwers what Adia's life is like on a day-to-day basis, and to raise awareness of the nature of poverty in Hyderabad. Around the tragic form of Adia's emaciated body, you see the prosperous downtown district and its bustling citizens side-stepping the small child as they go along their way.

I think we helped them make some money, though - a few people tossed Adia's family some coins when they realised we were filming!

Adia Downtown

The next clip is of Adia eating a bit of iddly. The doctor recommended this sort of food as easy to digest and good for getting her body ready to handle solids again. She can only have a tiny bit at a time - but I think she enjoyed it!

Adia Iddly!

We hope to continue taking footage of Adia throughout her recovery, and with the help of some friends, edit it into a short film to raise awareness about the plight of Adia and children like her - as well as educate others about the nature of poverty in what is known as a 'third world' country.

Having spent most of my young life planning to travel abroad and venturing out as soon as I was able, I felt myself prepared for anything. I was nonetheless shocked at the magnitude of the poverty I encountered as well as the uncomfortable juxtaposition of a very unbalanced distribution of wealth. Lately someone told me that they simply cannot believe that Hyderabad has the sort of poverty of which I speak, and cited the call centers, the booming technology industry, and the like as proof of its universal affluence. My explanations are sometimes not understood simply because people do not wish to face such a harsh reality.

I do not want to be a harbinger of gloom, but the very sad truth is that most every Indian city, though it may have sleek buildings and fabulously wealthy individuals, also has an immense and teeming underbelly of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. The caste system, of course, bears a large part of the blame for this - but I also believe that the way people treat beggars and the poor in India, and around the world, is a great detriment.

I was recently told that everyone knows you should only give a begger a coin while you're getting into a car, so they can't mob you. It is true, I am sometimes swarmed by dozens of outstreached hands with pleas of 'maa!' and beseeching looks in their eyes. It has perhaps impeded my daily strolls on occasion, but it has surely never spoiled my day, nor emptied my pocketbook to render help to all.

This help is not always monetary. I would find it degrading to toss a coin at someone while I scampered into a car - I do not have one - and strive to always attempt to communicate with the person to whom I'm giving, to make them feel that I consider them an equal and do not resent them just because their social status may incidentally be considered lowlier than my own. On many occasions I have found that, more than money, someone needs a favour done for them - to watch their child while they perform a job, to help them fill out paperwork to be seen at the clinic, to help them find a way to sell their handicrafts at a fair market price - or just to have a conversation. To give to someone only out of a sense of obligation is to demean them as people while simply making oneself feel less guilt.

I think this is a great problem which must be addressed - the way we who are priviledged enough to enjoy ease in our material lives behold and interact with those who struggle. I would implore everyone who reads this to strike up a conversation with the next 'lower-class' person you meet - you may be surprised at the wealth they have inside of them! Only when we begin to regard the impovrished masses as people, as individuals with worth and merits, will we be able to effect true change.

a brighter future

i am off to Nepal tomorrow morning! i wish i was not, but technicalities compel me.
i will return in two weeks' time!

much has transpired simce last i posted here. Adia was discharged from Lotus hospital - by the doctors this time, against sound medical advice and the wishes of myself and the family.,86.15.html

she is now in contact with a wonderful network of charities who have free care as well as many resources to offer! she will be in their hands while i am gone, and i will frequently contact my friends here for updates to share with all and sundry.,105.0.html

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

thoughts and actions

In this post, I will respond briefly to some of the comments shared on one of our recent topics.

Let me begin by saying that I warmly welcome all perspectives and opinions, and do weigh every bit of advice which I have given. The perspective that has lately been presented is not new to me - it is one which I have long considered, and have come to some very difficult realizations as a result.

I understand that it will show better results and bring me less trouble and grief to help those with open hands, and I understand that sometimes there are causes which are beyond easy solutions. But who needs help more than the people who CANNOT ask for help, the people who would ask but their voice is oppressed? Someone needs to speak up for those people. I feel called to this duty.

I definitely do want to have projects to help those who are more 'promising', who are already in a good position to easily recieve and benefit from assistance - But in all reality there are already a lot of groups already out there to help those sort of kids. At least four groups in Hyderabad who would take up Adia's cause were it not for the fact that they see her as 'hopeless'.

Are we really to write off an entire mass of the world's populace as 'hopeless', that they're damned to be wretched and miserable because that's the lot to which they were born? I cannot, will not accept it. What if I, or any one of us, had been written off as hopeless when we've encountered troubles in our lives?

Some people here in India say they will not help others because 'everyone is working out their karma, and that's none of anyone elses business'. The lack of scope in this statement apals me - karma is so much greater than a self-serving excuse. Perhaps it is someone's karma to be born in a lowly position....but is not one incurring bad karma upon themselves by refusing to help? Being born in a priviledged position does not place you higher than anyone else - it obligates you to do what you can to serve those in need. Only then can you continue to raise your karma to greater heights.

'Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.'
- Eugene Victor Debs

With all of this said, I have, through discussions with a dear friend of mine, examined these issues closely and seen another perspective as well. I do not especially care whether the family thinks they're pulling one over on me - I can swallow an insult to save a child's life. What I do care about, however, is whether Adia's life CAN be saved. I will not place myself in her life in a capacity that would only prolong the inevitable, nor attempt to restore her only to present her with a life of poverty and squallor like that of her parents.

Nor can I simply walk away and pretend none of this ever happened. I will not leave Adia to die in a gutter. For a child to pass from this life in pain and fear is one of the most horrific injustices I can imagine - if she must pass, let it be in comfort and in the arms of love.

I hope this has provided some insight into the ideology behind my decisions - and I welcome everyone's thoughts and ideas, now and always.

shifting sands...

A brief update today, but a hopeful one.

I was able to see Adia today and spent a wonderful time with her! Despite being pulled out of the hospital prematurely, I can still see the good effects of the little traetment she recieved - she was alert, playful, and active today. We played our game of 'Big Eyes' - this is where I widen my eyes and she does the same, originally contrived to see how well she could respond to stimuli, but later I found it's something she delights in - and I slowly fed her a near half-cup of milk.

I'm going very slow when feeding her, as per the doctor's advice, because too much food too quickly could tax her system unduly. One of Adia's wonderful Auntys in France has sent a package of condensed-nutrient food specifically designed to replenish the bodies of famished children, so it will be a great blessing when that arrives. I brought Adia some new outfits and blankets today, and tried to convey to the Aunt who was watching over her (more or less) that I would really appreciate the clothing being used, and Adia not being clad only in a towel. Hyderabad in is the midst of monsoon season now, and being exposed to the elements is something that little Adia is not well-equipped to handle.

I was unable to convey much today - Adia has two Aunts whom I know, today's being the younger, and I belive she has a slight mental impairment by which she continually keeps up a patter of speaking or sing-song'ing to herself. As such, though I made it clear that I would return the next day, there was little communication to be had.

I am now deciding how best to proceed. Do I check Adia into another, better, hospital, only to risk having her pulled out again? There is still an option of petitioning the court for temporary custody, though a court-date for such will not be available until October - we haven't such luxury of time. Tonight I will consult with the ever-helpful members of our burgeoning Foundation, and form a concrete plan of action.

Monday, September 7, 2009

a sad day

Adia's family took her out of the hospital, again, yesterday morning.

I cannot describe how devastated I was when I arrived all jolly and armed with my little gifts, and then getting impatient as the kind orderlies ran all over the hospital compound trying to find her, then nervous as she was no-where to be found - I nearly apart when someone finally found in a log-book that she had been discharged around 5 am. She was discharged against medical advice (they had to make their mark on a paper to that effect), and though the nurses and orderlies all were very sympathetic to my position, there was nothing more they could tell me, and nothing more they could do.

They also scooped up the 3,000 rupees i had left for the next day of her care. In the future I will be paying only by the day, which will be a bit of hassle but obviously well worth it.

I grew more and more frantic as I searched all their usual places and they were nowhere to be found - asking nearby businesses was little help. They're all rather annoyed with the way I bring these children into the restaurants and stores - normally they're driven away whenever they approach - and I've the feeling they'd keep mum even if they did have any information. I drove around downtown, Charminar, and every other place I could think of, with nothing to show but a colossal rickshaw fee and broken spirits.

BUT! all is not lost!

When I eventually gave up and went home I finally crashed, and was quite oblivious for the next twelve hours or so (the first significant sleep I'd had in four days, so it was quite needed) - and while I slumbered, Mr.Nutmeg went downtown and found them! In their usual places, little Adia on the ground as usual in a filthy towel and grandmum using her for alms.

Please acvcept my apology if I sound harsh - but I am beginning to feel ire toward Adia's relatives, and buy less and less of their story of 'poor exploited ladies in fear of an evil man'. I found something out yesterday - Adia has been checked into Niloufer hospital, in their gov't ward, every 14 to 20 days since her birth 20 months ago, to be given dextrose treatment for one to two days.

This is how they have kept her alive, and as charitable as i want my thoughts to be, a brief glance at reality tells me that this is a deliberate action to keep her just alive enough to act as their cash cow.

I am angry, though still striving to re-align my thoughts.....angry because I can tell Adia WANTS to survive - after everything she has endured, she still reacts immediately to treatment - and survival is her right. Since I've met her, I've watched her fight continually with everything her little soul has to stay alive despite the abominable treatment which is being foisted upon her, and I cannot help but be angry with those who are placing every obstacle in her way. Despite their background, their culture, their past, what they are doing is no less than slowly murdering her.

Armed with this resolve I called and visited every legal avenue i could today. I had little hope for this, and my suspicions were well-founded...there is literally NOTHING the Indian legal system in Hyderabad can (or will) do against this situation. There is no 'aggression' involved, so it is not considered 'abuse' - there is no provision for neglect. I can keep taking her to the hospital, they can keep taking her out. They can refuse to let her eat or drink. It's their 'right'.
Unless I am able to agitate for justice, there is very little way to get Adia away from these people and into a better environment.

A hearing in which I can petition the court for temporry custody of Adia, long enough to get her proper treatment, is not available until October. Let us pray that we have enough time to wait. In the emantime, that I do not lose track of Adia entirely, I believe it will be necessary to give gifts to the family that will continue to make them find it profitable for them to bring her to where I meet them.

Your prayers and thoughts are needed more than ever.

Many projects are underway to raise funds and awareness for little Adia all around the world. Anyone who wants to take part, in any capacity, is welcome to join our discussions on Adia's forum. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

hospital day!

Today is a wonderful day.

Adia is in the hospital!!!!!

This morning Adia was admitted to Niloufer Pediatric Hospital in Hyderabad. After a general checkup, the doctor confirmed that she was suffering from malnutrition and prescribed treatment.

As fantastic as it may be that Adia is under the watchful care of doctors in a safe place, I believe I want to look into options to have her transferred to a private hospital. Though assured that Niloufer is a private institution, I discovered today that in fact it is a government hospital with a private wing. From what I witnessed today, the hospital seemes to be severely in need of resources.

Adia was admitted to the hospital with a high fever, but the doctor was unable to treat this immediately because the hospital lacked fever medication - though it was eventually administered to her after I provided the funds to secure it. Indeed, it seems that Niloufer's patient-load is far more than what they are equipped to handle - Adia's ward is relatively peaceful, but wadering through the long corridors today I witnessed sights that will not allow me to rest well for a very, very long time. Once Adia is in a stable condition, I think it would be best to transfer her to an entirely private institution - for now I believe she is in competent hands.

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 I have an appointment with her doctor, at which time he will be able to discuss Adia's condition more extensively.

I am forever astounded at little Adia's tenacity in fighting to survive - she responds immediately to treatment, and seems to spring back remarkably no matter what her condition. Here are a few pictures I took a few hours after she was admitted - forgive the blurriness (my hand was a bit quivery, overcome as I was!)...what a truly beautiful child she is!

We took Adia's sister, Jyothi, out for ice-cream after we left the hopital to celebrate - another very lovely and winsome girl!

I'll be back tomorrow with a further update - we can all delight today in knowing that little Adia is safe, happy, and on the road to getting well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

what's the buzz?

For anyone who wants to keep track of the various projects Adia's 'auntys' have in the works, or for all who would like to contribute time and energy and wonder where they can find their nice, we have a new forum just for the up-and-coming Foundation!

Our fantastic friend Svartr on etsy (and resident technical whiz) has made a wonderful place for everyone involved, from trustees to friends to curious passers-by, to record and discuss projects, ideas, and everything else that surrounds our blossoming organization. Please do stop by and say hullo, find a project to contribute to, or catch the current news!
How wonderful - we now have a treasurer! A paypal account has been set up just for Adia's donations now. As of next week (if all goes as planned), we will be fully official as a charitable trust!

Anyone who wishes to contribute to Adia's cause is warmly welcomed to do so. Tomorrow, Adia is scheduled to return to the hospital, at which time we will provide for a full month of her care. We hope this month will suffice to stabalize her condition, but to fully recover, she will need further months of medical assistance as well as continued physical therapy to prevent or remedy any developmental delays incurred by malnutrition. We are immensely grateful for all who feel called to help defray the ongoing expenses of Adia's care.

You can use the donation button to the right on the sidebar, or make your contribution to

Blessings to all.

in the works!

So much is going on of late regarding the charitable foundation for Adia and her sisters around the world! My paperwork for the non-profit is being reviewed, 'Adias Auntys' on Etsy are alays coming up with wonderful ideas for helping her through the arts!

We've decided to make the charity an international foundation to help children in need through art and creativity. All artists and artisans who want to contribute their talents to the cause are welcome to join, and we have a great many projects in the works to raise funds and awareness! A quilt, jewelry, shirts and totes, a colouring book and a children's story, murals and other wonders are being discussed, as well as a photography project and a collaborative gallery exhibit. In addition to helping little Adia and other children in India, our members will be spreading the word and seeking out children in need in their own communities around the world.

Right now we're conduting a vote to decide upon our foundation's official name. Many beautiful names have been submitted, and all are welcome to take a vote on their favourite ones.

I will be delighted to hear from anyone around the world who is interested in joining our cause. Artists, crafters, and people with other talents are also welcome - we always need all sorts of people to help us with the many, many aspects of running a non-profit. Whatever your skill may be, we'd be pleased to have you! Write us and let us know:

sad news....

a disheartening day, i'm afraid.

i went to pick up some much-belated sundries at the bazaar this afternoon and saw Adia and her grandmother.

she looks miserable.

she and grandmum were sleeping in the alcove of a shop when i approached, Adia wearing nothing but a towel - no matter how many dresses i bring them, they usually refuse to clothe her properly.

i was at first delighted to see them, since it meant one less day to wait for the hospital - but lo and behold, not a hospital in Hyderabad was open today. apparently the prime minister died, which was an excuse to shut down EVERYTHING but the scant vegetable-stall or beedi-shop. i'd hate to think of what happened to anyone who needed dire emergency care today. nothing much could be done but buy grandmum's promise to return to the same place tomorrow.

i gave Adia some diluted milk fearing that anything more substantial might do more harm than good. she's another problem now - flies. droves of them which i could not keep away even by constantly fanning her off. i'm hoping it's just because they haven't been cleaning her properly, and i thought of giving her a bath but didn't know if something like that would be too much of a shock to her. i'm really frightened to do almost anything with her now because i don't know what her very fragile system will handle.

tomorrow we will go to the hospital - hopefully a better update will come then.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Until the charitable fund is in place, I've been keeping track of all donations and the amounts we've matched in a little book along with our expenditures. I realised that some might be interested in the financial spectrum of things, so I thought it might be well to post a summary each month of how we're doing!

Here is my (very first ever) accounting chart for the month of August:

I'll also list an estimate of our projected expenses for this month, and what our financial goal will be.

We plan to re-admit Adia to the hospital on the 4th, and this time it shall be a private one, amounting to approximately 1000 rs daily for a monthly total of 30,000 rs.

If I can get the consent of the family to place the older children in school they will require school supplies, uniforms, and shoes/underclothes. I estimate this cost to be around 2,000 rs for each child, a total of 4,000.

There will be some fees associated with the founding of the charitable trust, amounting approximately 5,000 rs.

I would like to invest a small amount of money in supplies for the women of the family to begin producing embroidery to sell, a traditional handicraft which the grandmother is quite talented in. A good start-up amount for the endeavour would be 4,000 rs.

Based upon last month's expenditures, the cost of feeding the children each day totals about 200 rs, for a monthly total of 6,000 rs.

Sometimes it is necessary to present gifts of money to the parents, in order to persuade them to continue bringing Adia to meet me, or to secure their consent for the children's needs. I wish to keep this to a minimum with a reserve fund of 5,000 rs, and a contingency fund of 2,000 rs will cover unexpected sundries.

This brings the monthly average needs to approximately 50,000 rs, or 1,020 USD.

It seems like quite a sum, but less so when one considers that it will benefit a family of 9 members (or more - I have yet to ascertain the exact number of relatives with whom Adia lives). The exact sum needed may end up as more or less, so I propose that any remainder at the end of the month be placed aside for unexpected needs of the children in months to come.

Another issue which concerns me is the family's housing. I have not visited the home in their native village, some few kilometers outside of Hyderabad, but have seen the miserable shanty cobbled together from cardboard and corregated tin which they reside in during their time in the city. At other times, their shelter is nothing but a small alcove near the positions where they collect their alms. I will be seeking local groups which may be able to provide them a better solution.

Hopefully this has provided a comprehensible overview - please feel free to comment here or contact me directly at should you have any enquiries.

Those who wish to contribute to the ongoing costs of Adia's care may do so below:

Blessings to all for your continued support and caring.

a friend indeed.....

Hello dear friends!

Not much of an update today...three days to go until I can see little Adia again. I had a long discussion with the Kare school I mentioned before, and they agreed to admit Adia's oldest brother and sister! They also are sorely in need of English speakers to teach any subject, so I've volunteered to teach a small art class for a couple of hours each week. Such fun!

My wonderful friends on have been brainstorming with me for more ways to spread the word. We're thinking up a good name for Adia's foundation as well as a logo, and coming up with creative ideas for raising awareness. If anyone is keen on mingling with this delightful group of artists and artisans, stop on by the forum and say hello! You can also browse dozens of lovely handmade items for Adia's cause.

Another fantastic friend who has offered to help made these beautiful buttons which you can put on your blog to let your readers know about Adia's cause.

the story of adia button

Please feel free to put one of these on the sidebar of your blog - or anywhere else you like - and link back to this page.

It's in the wee hours of India as I write this (I can hear the Ganesh Puja devotees finally winding down their all-night revelry off in the distance), but in a few hours I'm off to scout around and see if I can find Adia's family in their usual spots. We've been blessed with a wonderful doctor from Australia who may be able to help us get Adia back into the hospital sooner than planned! Hopefully, speaking doctor-to-doctor would persuade them to admit her - now my task is to find little Adia and her family if they have not gone already to their village.

Another friend who I would like to mention here and thank for her extraordinary work is Heather, the talented Hiipehemsptress on Etsy and a writer for She composed this excellent article to spread the word about Adia, and is also helping us come up with a beautiful logo!

For those who have not yet seen it, our Etsy friend Svartr has made a beautiful website to promote Adia's cause. This will be Adia's official website affiliated with her foundation.

So many other ideas are in the works, and I cannot begin to express the feeling of joy and gratitude I have for all who are involved. The sun is coming up over India and I feel happier, more hopeful than I have in days. It seems like we're going to be able to make some real changes for Adia and her 'sisters' worldwide - I feel capable and inspired, and revel in the poignant energy of how Goodness in the world can overcome anything....!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A School of Hope

Another breath of hope has some through a school here in Hyderabad. The Kare School provides a free education to children in need, and also has a women's vocational collecge and some medical facilities including a blood bank (which may be something Adia needs because of the depleted state of her fluids). I've written to secure Adia's older siblings a position there, and also to enquire about volunteering for a few hours each week to help the children with their English.

Education can empower people to break the cycles of poverty and abuse, and I believe Adia's siblings would flourish if given the proper chance in life. The school may be a wonderful starting-place, and also help to connect them with other community resources of which I may be unaware. The only challenge will be to secure the consent of their parents, who could be reluctant to give up the income the children procure, but perhaps they could be made to understand that their children will be able to better care for them in their old age if educated, and provide a better life for thier own children and grandchildren.

Thank you as always for keeping Adia and her family in your thoughts and prayers!

The Adia Children's Foundation

I've been keeping myself busy tonight with peripheral things ince there's nothing more I can do for littrle Adia while I wait out the next four days. First comes the task of reviving my non-profit organization, started years ago for an artist's collective bu inactive for some time, to being a charitable trust for Adia and children like her.

The registration paperwork is finished and all sealed into a pretty green envelope. Green is my colour of good luck here - i think because the mosques are always illumined with green light so it has come to suggest things of beauty and peace. Hopefully it might wends its way through the great and terrible labyrinth of Indian beauracracy successfully and quickly - I expect results in about a week.

All evening, I've been turning around in my mind how the arts have become such a big part of helping Adia. I've been thinking a lot about the greater situation at hand, and what my place could be in it. My vision is to dedicate the Adia Children's Foundation as a group to helping children and families through the arts. One of my strongest beliefs is of the power of the arts to change lives. I feel like it's the context in which I would be most capable, to raise awareness of and bring aid to exploited or abused female children through the arts.

Here is a very brief outline of the activities I see such a group being capable of, and which I have some experience in:

Firstly we have the idea of the helping women find self-sufficiency through traditional handicrafts, like the beautiful embroidery Adia's grandmother makes. If such handicrafts could be shared with the world and bring their creators fair-trade prices, it would be a marvellous step.

Maybe I could organize something like a project in which i participated in Mexico some years ago; to raise community awareness about the educational needs of children there, I and two other artists from the States got together with a group of kids to paint a mural which illustrated our cause. India is quite fond of murals (pretty much every surface is lushly painted with something lovely and bright), and the project would not only put the issue in the minds of passers-by but also open artistic avenues and inspioration for young minds who need an outlet for expression.

I'm still also keen on writing a children's book about Adia's story and how people all over the world have come together to show her compassion and love. I could dovetail some of my existing projects to include these themes, and in that way gain exposure for the Foundation. I'm very interested to hear the suggestions of others for how we could raise funds and awareness for disadvantaged children through the arts, and anyone who would be interested in a place on ther board of the Foundation's trustees. As our numbers increase, so shall our power to help!

One thing at a time, of course - first we're going to do all we can to get Adia well. This morning, Nicholas spoke with a wonderful woman in Australia, a doctor who is concerned about Adia's plight. If we can locate the family in the next few days, this lady may be able to persuade a doctor to admit Adia to the hospital sooner. Time is always of the essence, and this would be a great improvement of affairs.

I will continue to keep everyone posted about anything that transpires with Adia and her family. I'll also be delighted to start a dialogue with anyone who has suggestions for outreach; please feel free to contact me either by commenting here or to my email,

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Power of Art

Such an inspiration! Many wonderful crafters and artisans on the handmade community have contributed their beautiful creations to raise funds for dear Adia's care.

Please go check out these wonderful listings of handmade art and crafts. 100% of each purchase will go directly to Adia's medical bills and other neccessties.
In this post I shall address the letter-writing campaign with which we strive to bring Adia's story to the media far and wide.

We encourage anyone concerned to forward this brief summary to any media outlet you can find - together we can spread the word and make changes happen!

We are a family of American artists living and working in Hyderabad, India. We have lately discovered the tragic tale of a child in grave peril. Though never given a name, we have decided to call her Adia, which means 'gift of God'.
When we met little Adia, she was lying in the dust at her mother's feet, shrivelled and badly starved. Her frail body was being used to entice passers-by to give coins to her plump and smiling mother.

The haunting image would not leave us, and over the next several days we returned to visit the family many times, bringing money, clothing and food for Adia and her four siblings.
We then discovered that as the youngest and weakest girl child in a very large family,her father had forbade her nourishment. She was kept alive by being fed sugar water and diluted milk in secret by the women of the family.

Despite being provided with what resources we could give, her condition has continued to worsen drastically. When her family removed her from the hospital in which we placed her, she was subjected to 'folk-healing' practices such as blood-letting, which have further injured her fragile state. Presently her doctor is unwilling to attepmt further treatment which her body may reject, but in five days she will be eligible to again be admitted to a hospital's care. At this time we will again strive to procure any proper medical treatement which is required.

In our constant attempts to rally support from local state and charity organisations we have consistently met with either indifference or incapacity. We feel that by bringing Adia's story to the international media it will command the attention of those who can help, and appeal to those who can open avenues for her continued recovery.

We also seek to raise awareness for the plight of other abused or neglected female children in India. Thousands of other infants and young girls are suffering as Adia is, unnoticed and unregarded.

We implore you to givIthis issue your urgent attention, to save not only the life of this one small soul, but to make new strides in improving the lot of imperiled female children worldwide.

Feel free to add to or alter the letter in any way as you see fit, and to link to this blog and other web presences which concerned friends have compiled. Please include our contact information as follows:
Echo June Vincent and Nicholas Avirett
9550414507 (you will probably need to enter the coutry code 91 first)
...this is our mobile number at which we can be contacted anytime, day or night.

Let's spread the word!! I will contine to be immensely grateful for other outreach suggestions as well.
A glimmer of hope!

Today I peresuaded Adia's grandmother to allow me to return her to the hospital. letting me take her to the hospital again. The grandmother is a strange character, always has an arch little smile in the corner of her eye - but despite this, my heart goes out to her somewhat. I realise that once, she was probably in Adia's position - within the constraints of the caste system, it is likely that the women of Adcia's family have been living these very harsh realities for generations.

The hospital visit did not go as well i planned, but did provide some hope; finally I was able to speak to a doctor for a frank assesment, and translate the rapid Telugu the grandmother is wont to fire at me. Today I heard in more detail the story of how Adia did not breastfeed properly and was thus relegated to sugar-water, of how they sought to treat her by having her bled and through the 'power' of an amulet she wears around her neck.

I do respect folk remedies and natural healing - but I am still unable to determine whether the women actually believe that these bleedings and amulets will cure Adia, or if they are merely a token to absolve what small conscience they may have. Be it through ignorance of malice, these remedies have only worsened her condition, and the doctor argued with the grandmother to make her understand this.

We finally wrangled her consent to re-admit Adia to the doctmr's care, but the problem we have now is that he does not think Adia would be responsive to treatment. hospitals in India are pathos-ridden affairs, always under-staffed and under-funded (I am haunted by the rows of dingy metal beds, dimly lit, the atmosphere of abject desair which I saw today), and they will not give a bed to a patient who they believe will not be cured.

The doctor, after examining Adia, told me that her blood was too depleted to treat her through IV - her veins would likely collapse, as they have already begun to - nor could she recieve sustenence or medicine orally, for it would worsen her loose stools. They have no solution for such a situation, and will not seek one when more 'viable' children are waiting in line. The only thing we can do is wait, giving her diluted milk, until her blood has restored itself. The doctor referred us to Niloufer Pediatric Hospital, the best Hyderabad can offer, and will reccommend her to be admitted there in five days.

Adia's family has now decided to return to their home-place some kilometers away from Hyderabad to wait out the five days, as they are rural people, coming to the city every few weeks to beg and living in a makeshift shanty or on the streets. They have promised to meet me at an appointed place and time on the fifth day.

I am very, very uncomfortable with not seeing any of them for that duration - but perhaps they have more resources there to draw from, and at the very least Adia will not be lying on the ground being used as begging bait. I have supplied them with enough money to not feel any need during the next five days, and promised them another very large sum to ensure they would bring her as arranged.

I tried to spend as much time with little Adia as I could today, taking the older children out to lunch and insisting on sitting by until Adia was fed the milk I brought. A curious phenomenon has occured in the area where we meet her family - suddenly, droves of women with their ailing children have cropped up - word travels fast about the peculiar foreigners with open pockets. This inspires me all the more to begin some sort of foundation here to help these children - one that actually WORKS and can provide them real help. I am ready to make this committment and am looking into what it will entail. I think whatever media attention we get will be extremely helpful for such a cause.

For those who feel called to Adia's plaight, please help us by continuing to agitate to get this story heard far and wide!

Adia's parents took her OUT of the hospital and to a folk-healer to have her bled. This when 'bad spirits' or 'illness' are supposedly removed by draining some amount of the patient's blood.

I was unable to see Adia yesterday because I was sick; and when I went to the bus today the family was there in their old spots, Adia on the ground - absolutely shrivelled. She could not wake up; opened her eyes for only a moment and tried to grasp my finger but could not - her stomach is swollen and she is coughing (along with rest of the family). She was lying in a pool of watery diarrhea. I am frightened and fear the worst.

The family gave us a prescription script to fill when we first came up, and after rushing to fill it and bringing back the meds we discovered they were adult antihistamines. Poor papa, it seems, has a cold...

We had a hard time finding someone nearby to translate, but the little we discovered was that she had been bled several times and the man who did it now says she 'doesnt have enough blood left to bleed her anymore'. She looks like she really doesn't have anything left; her skin is papery and wrinkled. They were leaving the area just after we arrived and didn't want us to do anything but give them money tonight. I think we conveyed that when we met them tomorrow we would not give them more money unless Adia went back to the hospital.

Please, even if you do not pray, pray with me to anything you believe in for a miracle. We will need one. I cannot find any agency here who will provide emergency help. The half-dozen police who were nearby witnessing the whole bit tonight (they're out in droves for the Ganesha festival) of course do not care.

Right now I think that the most effective thing to do is try to spread this story far and wide to command media attention. This is where you, my good reader, can help - I have no experience with getting media attention for anything but art exhibits and do not know where to turn. Everyone I've so far called or written has brushed me off politely or ignored me outright.

If anyone has any connections or knowledge of how I could bring international attention to this - please help us. It might even sound silly to think of calling out the world media for one child but I think it is exigent and necessary. Not only can we bring Adia's story to the world, but also raise awareness of the thousands of children like her who are suffering here in India and around the world.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

STILL no doctor available to talk to me for more than a passing moment. if truth must be told, the Indian medical system often leaves a lot to be desired. i have been assured by many that Adia's hospiatal is a good one, though, and the nurses who care for her all very kind - it is indeed reassuring to know she is in a comfortable, clean place under the watchful eye of such caring ladies.

a bit of good news - Adia's first month of hospital care has been paid for! Mr.Nutmeg and i have been doing our best to match donations where we can, and with the help of our wonderful etsy friends we've raised enough to ensure her care for the entire month. now we'll keep praying for a wonderful recovery to match the outpouring of generosity!

i'm often indulging in flights of fancy where little Adia is completely recovered, mirthful and pattering about as a child of her age should. it will yet be some time, but i have a strong intuitive sense that such an image will one day be a reality.

i am very appreciateive of all the suggestions for the long-term. that is still my greatest worry; i feel so frightened lest i cannot measure up to the great responsibility with which i've been entrusted, to secure Adia a safe future. i think that contacting the media is perhaps the way to go, to surround her life with as much awareness and concern of as many people as possible. i am actually really nervous about this, being quite shy in 'Real Life', and it would entail a lot of direct communication which makes me skittish - but that is something i will overcome for her sake. it will be a very small thing compared to what she has overcome already!

i had another chance to meet the father today; he, the old grandmother, and the young boy were in their usual spots. again my suspicions are reaffirmed that i Do Not like the man - Mr.Nutmeg is quite intuitive of character, and he immediately read a great deal of negative energy coming from him. he is not overtly hostile, but has an air of being both aloof from his family and despotic; he was taking the day's earnings from the grandmother, and there was a great tension surrounding them both.

following the good advice of many, i have stopped giving any amount of cash to the women but rather take the children for a meal and bring them clothing and other essentials. it even seems a bit futile to bring clothing, for each day they arrive clothed in the same tattered rags as the day before - new outfits would prove ineffective for begging. i wish there was a way to connect them with some sort of gainful work, to help nudge them toward a higher standard of self-sufficiency - i'e an appointment later this week with a local NGO who may have some solutions. still, the man of the family is a great problem - i do not know what he will allow, or what repercussions my help could unwittingly bring. it is a thin strand to balance upon....

despite the obstacles, though, i still think we are making wonderful progress each time i see Adia's happy eyes. i do not think she has significantly gained weight yet, but she does look better as she is no longer severely dehydrated, and no longer has that terrible, harried look of a child who has endured too much in so few years. that alone is worth everything, and is enough to give me strength for whatever battles may come.

please keep praying/sending good energies for me, ladies and gents, that i may be granted clarity of vision to see what must be done, and strength to make it happen. i am, as always, ever grateful....

....and on that note! i have started writing Adia's story in the form of a child's book. i mentioned this briefly before, but my dream is to write down this tale so Adia can see it when she is older, to know the love which so many people showed - and perhaps so other children can read it to raise their awareness and compassion. i would really like to include a contribution from or mention of all who have helped and cared, and will give more details when the time ripens :)

ah, one more thing - it is not so easy to bring her case before a judge as we had hoped. the legal system here is a labyrinthine one, and even with the advice of an advocate we are finding it difficult to navigate. so far we have encountered no need for legal intervention. the women of the family sincerely want Adia's recovery, and i suppose the father is at least shrewd enough to allow us to keep her in the hopital if it might benefit him somehow - hopefully that situation does not escalate. we're holding off on pursuing legal action until we can get sound advice from an NGO (this week, we hope!) about how it would be best to approach the idea of adoption or removal of custody.

Monday, August 24, 2009

a very hasty update -

i'm back! sorry for the long silent - i am a bit embarrased to admit that, erm, i ended up in the hopsital myself (though i don't really think i needed to be, when a foreigner faints they get a lot more attention than the locals do).

anyway! i didn't make it to see Adia in the hospital today but spoke with her dear older sister, whe told me she is doing well indeed! the last time i saw her, the prior day, i do agree that she seems much sprightlier - still woefully undernourished, but that will take some time to remedy. one problem is that many children who have been starved for a length of time develop partial lactose intolerance - and while she is able to drink milk without ostensible problems, one concern is that she may not be absorbing the nutrients fully. that's one thing we're going to talk to the doctor about testing, hopefully tomorrow.

i am still so joyous to see the beautiful outpouring of generosity from our etsy comrades - again and again, i have reason to belive that kindness in the world always will overcome all that is unbalanced.

i hope to have a specific medical update from the docs tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

i have marvellous news - Adia is in the hospital!

unfortunately the good news comes with bad as well; she went into a state of shock today. this time i went on my visit alone, and without the presence of a male the mother was willing to talk with me extensively through our translator.

sometime this afternoon the mother and aunt were collecting alms in their usual spot whn the baby's eyes rolled back in her head and her limbs went limp, then rigid. the women began to scream and someone called an ambulance, which took Adia to the St.George charity hospital. she is still there this evening - they are rehydrating her intraveniously and her condition is now stable; she is responsive and conscious.

the problem we now face is that the hopital will not treat her for more than 48 hours without advance payment or a guarantor of pay. her fulltreatment of perhaps a month of hospitalization will cost over half a lakh rupees, a very substantial sum. tomorrow we will visit Adia in the hospital and register ourselves as guarantors of the bill, paying about half up-front.

i have been so overwhelmed by the kind generosity of many who have read Adia's story. we will continue to be very grateful for any donations from those who feel called to help. one way you could help would be to list one of your items in your shop for charity. this will be of help not only for fundraising, but for public awareness as well - you can aquaint your buyers with Adia's plight by linking to the blog i'm writing,

please, though, do not feel pressured to help monetarily unless you feel inspired to; we are very grateful also for your thoughts and prayers! we are in contact with some NGOs here who, though underfunded, may be able to provide assistance, and also some Catholic missions through Mr.Nicholas' church. we are quite confident that the money will come with dedication and help from so many good people.

today Adia's mother placed a great deal of trust in me and was willing to discuss matters quite openly. i was able to find out many things which shed new light on the situation. Adia's starvation was mandated by her father, the man whom i saw yesterday. in her infancy she had difficulties breastfeeding, and grew thin and weak - the father declared that a 'sick' girl was not to be given food when they had boy children to be fed. bravely going against his orders, the women of the family kept Adia alive with sugar-water and milk.

Adia's mother fears greatly for the future of her children. her wish is that she could turn them over to me, all four - but cannot for the father would beat or even kill her when he found out. the father, she says, is a bad man from whom the children and women live in constant fear, and he will not work. i believe the women of ther family to be as oppressed as the children - she showed me a huge scar on her abdomen from where he burned her with a hot chapati pan.

now that Adia is in the hospital, our first priority is to ensure that the father cannot withdraw her. we will continue with our plan to petition the court for temporary custody.

the next step is to find a long-term solution for Adia and her three siblings (there is also a boy of eight years whom i have not met). the 'house' in which they live is a miserable lean-to without electricity, water, or sanitary facilities. with a father who refuses to work and intent on using his children for begging instead, they are unlikely to ever recieve any education and their future prospects would be grim indeed.

when Adia is released from the hospital in good health (insh'allah), we will again petition the court, this time for permanent termination of parental rights and the permission to act as temporary guardians until an adoptive family can be found - preferably one who will not separate the siblings, and can provide for their special needs both physical and emotional. an Indian couple would be best so they could be raised within their own culture and religion, and to hasten the adoption process; if onme cannot be found we will expand our search to couples abroad as well. we are still considering whether we have the ability to permanently take four special-needs children into our home - whether it would be feasible with finances, visas and travel, and the impact it may have upon our own daughter.

one of the first steps i think we should take is to find a safe environment for the women of the home - so they could provide evidence against the father without fear of retalliation, and to release them from their servitude to this very unkind man. there are organizations here which will provide shelter and gainful employment to such women - these too are underfunded, but we may be able to make a donation to such a place to secure their acceptance.

so much to do! - but a huge weight has been lisfted from my shoulders to know that Adia is now in a place of comfort, safety and care. we will speak to the doctor tomorrow directly and hear what he has to say about her condition and what treatments she will need - i will update everyone tomorrow on what he says.

please continue to keep Adia and her family in your thoughts and prayers; we are ever grateful to all who take an interest in their plight.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a new hope

i have not been able to see Adia in two days. yesterday they said (from what i could tell, i have been studying Telugu quickly as i can - however they speak a provincial dialect which is similar, but somewhat different) that most of the family went to the masjid (mosque). today only one woman was there, and said the baby and young girl were out collecting money. the young girl takes the baby around sometimes, outfitted with a placard in Urdu beseeching help; from what i have studied, Islam has a strong imperative for alms-giving.

i'm a little nervous that i've not seen Adia, since i do not know if they would tell me should anything have happened to her. i made extravagant monetary promises to them for tomorrow, but made it clear i would only give such a sum if the child was produced.

over the last two days, a little boy has materialized, who seems about three years old. though dressed in filthy rags (we bought him a new set of clothing tonight) he seems farily well fed, and even a jolly little fellow. naturally i've fallen head over heels for him as well, and am growing quite close to the older girl too. tomorrow we're going to bring new sets of clothing for everyone - though i do not know how many children they might have....

another new character on the scene is a man - the children's father. a decently dressed and able-bodied man of perhaps 40, we saw him quarrelling with the mother when we approached - of course he immediately was all smiles thereafter - and ascertained that indeed, this was the father of these children. we're proceeding very carefully because we do not want to scare them off in any way, so i was unable to express or show my scorn for this man...he looked like a pretty idle fellow, smoking and drinking chai. i tried to ask the mother if he works, and from what i could understand he 'has none'. i daresay he should be looking harder.

my sympathy for the women increases daily - it is true that a mother should protect her children, and not produce more children than she can care for - but equally true that in this culture a woman cannot refuse a man, either in the 'capacity' of a wife, or in the running of a household. indeed, i believe the blame for this atrocious situation may lie more with he than they...

tomorrow we will visit them again, and hpoefully be allowed to visit the 'house' in which they live. our Telugu speaking friend will accompany us to facilitate better communication.the wonderful news is that many rays of hope have opened up! tomorrow we also meet withthe advocate who has promised to petition the courts to get Adia into the hopsital. if we are successful, as he believes we will be, we will see her in the hospital within the week and on the road to recovery. it will cost over 2 lakhs for a month's stay, and we have contacted some NGOs to help us defray that enormous cost. we have also met with the human rights coalition for Andhara Pradesh. they agree that the very first step is to get Adia into the hospital, and in the meantime they will be researching what options are available thereafter. i have been overwhelmed, actually, with the amount of responses i have recieved from NGOs and charities, all willing to help if they can.

another thing we're going to try tomorrow is to speak to their local Iman (the Muslim priest). it seems like it might be a good thing to have their religious father involved. perhaps he can succeed in persuading them to take Adia to the hopsital, which would of course make everything much easier.

i'm quite in love with all of these children - i really wish there was a legal way for me to adopt all three immediately - sadly it is not so. their 'house' is nothing but a dreadful shamble, a lean-tol shanty next to a residential neighborhood. we are still mulling the potential idea of allowing one or two of the women and the children to live in our home. i can't even begin to think of being worried for our things (we could lock them away if need be) but Mr.Nutmeg is a bit more wary. it's probably good that he's here to balance things else i'd have the whole extended family under my permanent care....anyway i do think it would be good to have the children here where we can help to care for them, and also for them to be in a safe and loving environment instead of out on the streets every day from dawn til dusk. we would have to be sure they are all free from illness first to protect our daughter, and get them any medical care they may require. so mcu hhappening!

i feel rather like i've not had a moment to beathe in the lst few days. nothing much will transpire until tomorrow and i'm going to take the night off...i'm getting a little bit, um, strained and jumpy, so probably need to try for a bit of fun to keep myself healthy enough to help as well as i can.thanks as always for all who take an interest. i would alo like to ask anyone who has any media or NGO connections in the States to please post if you feel called to help. we're trying to publicize Adia's story far and wide to rally as much help and upport as we can - for her, and for other female children in the same plight.

Monday, August 17, 2009

On August 17th a child came into my life.

Our karma can be compared with throwing pebbles in a pond. Ripples spread out, intersect; each sphere affecting all this way we live our lives, and are touched by the lives of others. Some events drift alongside us - this is one which will change the core of my being forever.

I found yesterday a woman at the bus station with a small child shriveled up at her feet; when i stopped to see what was going on, I saw a child who was literally skin and bones lying out on a thin piece of fabric, the mother hovering over it and begging alms.

After rushing home and back to bring the child some essentials of food and clothing, I enquired of a nearby officer and passers-by to understand the situation further. A tragedy was revealed. Here in India it is not uncommon for a woman to cripple or starve her child, that they be used as an effective tool for begging. This family particular family is known to the police as one who has starved an earlier child to death some years before, but there is little legal recourse - the scant laws are rarely enforced, if at all. The police merely stand idly by while atrocities unfold....the hand of the woman which held this child was plump and covered in gold rings.

I cannot determine the child's age with any certainty, but it she seems to be around one year old, though much stunted in growth because of her condition. I fear that this child has very little time to live; her skin stretched tautly over her bones, her stomach distended, and her movements weak and listless.

When we asked the child's name, we were told she had one. We decided to call her Aida, Arabic for 'gift of God'.

Today over the course of some hours I was able to feed her milk and bread, though I cannot say whether it much benefited her condition. We are trying now to help in every way we can. Daily we will bring food, and we are trying to convince the family let us take the child to the hospital - we will pay whatever is necessary for her to be restored to health. This far, they flatly refuse this assistance.

I've come into contact with an advocate here who is willing to petition the court for suspension of parental rights so the child can be placed in the hospital. Myself and my partner would be temporary guardians during this time. The advocate tells us there is a great deal of precedent for this situation, so he is confident that we will secure hospitalization - and if sufficient cause can be proved, the rights of the parents could be terminated permanently.

A the very least, we will be able to provide the child with medical care - and at best, a loving home. We do not know if the miles and miles of bureaucracy involved in Indian adoptions will allow us to bring her into our family, but we will do everything we can to be sure she is placed in a nurturing and safe environment.

I have begun this blog to raise awareness of Adia's plight, and also to inform the public of the ng realities of many female children in India. Female infanticide is not uncommon, and a girl who survives will often be sold quickly into indentured servitude and prostitution. I hope, through this blog and other works, to bring this situation to light.

I ask any who come upon this story to keep Adia in your thoughts and prayers, that this one small soul may find its way to experience the beauties of life, and that we may be empowered to help her there.