hands full supporting 21 vulnerable girls in Nepal, but offered to help by securing sponsors to cover basic needs and education for my Ugandan orphans. Amidst all this, I hadn’t worked for 18 months; I was broke and stressed. I took a job in Byron Bay as an English language teacher and set about staging the “Orphans in Crisis African Gala Dinner” to raise funds for long-term solutions to the children’s situation. With the help of the big-hearted Byron Shire community and a small but passionate team of volunteers, I raised over $24,000 in one night. For the first time in over two years I felt like everything would be okay. It was six months before I could return to Uganda to check on the children and lay the foundations for a relocation project. Soon after my arrival I met with one of the older children who was in boarding school at the time. I listened in disbelief as she revealed stories of abuse and deprivation of food as punishment by the very people who were meant to be protecting them. I spent the next 10 weeks speaking to witnesses, gathering evidence for Ugandan authorities and compiling my statement containing over 30 supporting exhibits. With just over a week to go, I was utterly exhausted. A few days later Kate van Doore from Forget Me Not arrived to help with the rescue and finalise paperwork to establish the way forward. From this the “Forget Me Not Families” project was born, designed to reunite the children with their families where possible and establish partnerships with two respected children’s villages to care for children with no traceable family.
I listened in disbelief as she revealed stories of abuse and deprivation of food as punishment by the very people who were meant to be protecting them.
Tears of relief fell as I flew over Kampala bound for India. My plan was to rest and stay with the family whom I had come to know well during my time at university. In typical Indian style I was welcomed with open arms, offered bottomless glasses of chai and fed copious amounts of chapatti. We spent hours talking in broken English about my time in Uganda, practiced yoga in the mornings and watched children fly kites against incredible sunsets from their rooftop in the evenings. The following day I returned to the beautiful Krishnamurti Centre in Rajghat, an oasis in Varanasi where I had spent many hours in silence during my student days. As I lay on my favourite bench by the river watching two eagles flying above, I reflected on how much my decision to study yoga had changed my life. On an overnight train to Delhi two days later my friend Diptesh (the son of the couple I stayed with in Varanasi) and I discussed starting a project to help some of northern India’s most vulnerable children. I flew back to Australia armed with a new proposal for Forget Me Not. We formed a partnership, and four months later, Diptesh registered a local non-government organisation called Lakshya Aakriti Children’s Home. In May 2012, twenty yoga studios around the world came together for the “Yogis Unite” appeal and “Project H.E.L.P.” was born - a community outreach program to help 23 children living in appalling conditions in a New Delhi slum. Project H.E.L.P has four stages – Health, Education, Livelihood and Possibilities. Empowering
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