Site Visit Report
Name of the person doing the visit: Susie Dixon
Affiliation: Not affiliated to Asha for Education. Came to know about Ashraya through a friend.
Dates of visit: June 24-26 2009
Words alone fail me while offering this remembrance of the service these children convey through love, peace, happiness, compassion, and joy radiating naturally in their hearts and shining through the faces of these girls. To be in their presence is to be the recipient of all this and so much more. From the early morning meditation, singing and prayers to breakfast the reverence builds like a fire kindled and continues throughout the day. As evening approaches they bathe and dress so independently and you can actually feel the pace slowly fade like the fire to ash. Anticipating the needs to be in service to others these darling girls despite their own challenges or delays in self gratification tend to the other. The home is well cared for and kept radiantly clean. As a mother myself who has raised many children I found this especially extraordinary. This is possible because of a loving dedicated staff, most if not all living full-time with the girls.
They seem to follow a flexible, but rather predictable schedule throughout the day. There is traditional classroom time, as well as, arts and crafts, music, physical activities indoors and out as the weather here permits. While there, the physical therapist arrived to work with the girls. Neither the patient nor the other children/sisters seemed to bothered by the therapy work and they took it all in stride, what choice do they currently have? I found it rather unfortunate everyone is in the same room as the therapist and patient during treatment sessions. As a healer for over fourteen years and with a background as a Red Cross volunteer in physical therapy, working for a chiropractor and assisting in other medical practices I had mixed feelings about the space and privacy issues. Certainly, a much better solution would be to utilize the much more private space upstairs adding additional therapy equipment and trained therapists. Obviously, this will come at an additional cost. An investment in humanity I already see budding and flourishing. Taking meals with the girls I discovered their vegetarian diet to be delicious. I soaked in the laughter and the giggles while the girls delighted in having a guest in their classroom with them who at times crawled around the floor in a traditional saree. I did my best to participate along with their activities, but I have to say even their physical stretching routine is some workout. I am an American from Nebraska, caucasion, and older than most of their own parents. I believe I witnessed selfless service with the girls going in both directions. This is truly a family and not an institution setting. When asked what I would change or comment on my thoughts went to the walls that seemed to need a fresher coat of paint after usual wear in such weather conditions. The architecture and bright colors delighted me, so I have no doubt they add to the overall feel of this home. There is so much vibrancy in the souls of these girls why not have an external view of fresh painted walls with more grown up images to match. The other thing that crossed my mind was the excellence Dolly (Ashraya administrator) possesses in teaching. She goes so far as to gather her children in circular patterns which spoke so much about her communication style. I remembered tables that came in this shape and thought how nice it would be if one day Ashraya could have such a practical tool as circular shaped classroom tables and chairs that were easy to store if need be. They sit on the floor for all activities except meals now. Leaving Ashraya was not easy. Even the grounds are a paradise of trees and vegetation. Their SHARE SMILE and SERVE motto really is fitting down to the youngest child. I look forward to my next visit and know I will return.