1 KG Ministry

There are many homeless people on the streets here in Pune – including families with small children.  They often congregate together into small communities.  They generally beg for money when people walk by, but everyone says not to give them money.  There are gangs that “organize” the begging and they take a big chunk of any donations that are collected.

A friend of mine (who also happens to be my student) named Lee, who immigrated with his family to India from South Korea, has come up with a good idea for helping these communities without directly donating money.  He began an organization called 1 KG Ministry – the idea being to provide 1 kg of rice to the homeless in and around the neighborhood where he lives.  He sometimes travels quite far outside the neighborhood, and he also gives things besides rice – e.g. daal, hard-boiled eggs (for Easter), and little toys and playthings for the children.   He gets discounts from a local grocery store for the rice/daal, and otherwise works on donations and volunteer help (there’s a significant Korean Christian community here in Pune).  This sounded like a great idea to me, and I went along a few times to help (though my back problems have prevented me from regular participation).

Lee and his volunteers generally start on Thursday afternoon/evening.  They collect the rice in big sacks and then pour it into 1 kg plastic ziploc-type baggies.  They make anywhere from 150 – 250 bags with 1 kg of rice.  This past week, for the Easter holiday, they boiled and wrapped eggs to give the kids.  Here are some pics of the preparation:

Distribution happens very early Friday morning.   This past week, we started at about 6 a.m.  Many of the homeless are still sleeping under blankets, which is part of the plan.  Lee learned from experience that the communities will crowd around and make distribution difficult if he goes later in the day.

The people are grateful for the rice, and have gotten to know Lee pretty well by now.  He distributes the rice uncooked, and you can see in the picture below that these communities have the means of cooking the rice themselves, generally over an open fire.

It’s been an eye-opening experience, and I’m grateful to Lee and his organization for letting me tag along a few times.

Zak’s Graduation

The kids are finishing up school this week and Zak was first done.  The schools let out early here (by US standards) due to the very hot temperatures (100 degrees +) that are now a daily fact of life.

Zak graduated from upper kindergarten (UKG), and his class just had its graduation ceremony.

His teachers seemed to really like him and his report card was mostly smiley faces and flowers, which is good.   He’s looking forward to starting at Syracuse Latin School in the fall.

Mango Season

The upside of the hot summer season is that it’s also mango season.  There are so many different varieties of mango, that I can’t keep them all straight.  I mostly go by the price – and they can get quite expensive!  Here’s some info:

Top 12 Most Famous Varieties Of Indian Mangoes

There are also a lot of different ways to eat a mango, some messier than others.  I’ve been peeling and slicing, though this still leaves a huge pit that needs to be “cleaned off”.  They’re amazingly good and Farhana says we don’t get anything like them in the US, which is probably why I’ve never been a huge fan.  Here’s some of my handiwork:

Here’s how big the seeds are: