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,