Anbarasi Social Action was founded in 1974 by Rev. Father Mariadasan and Sister Josephine to address a variety of social needs in the state of Tamil Nadu. Soon thereafter, they began to take in orphaned children and Anbarasi quickly developed into a home for children. Today, the four-acre site serves as home to 140 children, 79 boys and 61 girls, ranging from 4 to 16 years of age.
When Anbarasi started working with Miracle Foundation in May 2012, they were almost entirely dependent upon volunteer power and donations to care for the children and run the operation. Their staff included Sister Josephine and two housemothers (which meant a 1:75 housemother to child ratio!), as well as three cooks, and the volunteer Chief Functionary Mr. Gothandapani, who works at a nearby textile mill and visits the home every evening to handle administrative and operational matters. Born into an poor family, Mr. Gothandapani struggled financially in order to pursue his own education. After receiving his master’s in mathematics at Vivekananda College, he wanted to help underprivileged children pursue their educational dreams. In 2004, he visited Anbarasi children’s home and saw a real need for outside help. He began recruiting other like-minded people, including friends, co-workers, community members, and the owner of the textile mill. Together, their donations and efforts provided the children of Anbarasi with food, shelter, and education.
Because Anbarasi was dependent upon donations provided by the nearby community, they operated on extremely limited funds. As a result, the children of Anbarasi lacked the basics. Their ground water was contaminated from a nearby factory, so drinking water was brought in 2 to 3 times per month. They only received two meals (breakfast and dinner) a day, generally consisting of rice, dal, and vegetables, with eggs being served only twice a week. This meant their diet was lacking in protein, dairy, and fruit. Their healthcare was inadequate. The children had not been vaccinated, did not have routine medical check ups, and did not have proper medical records. The children did not have proper mattresses, so they slept on straw mats on the floor. All of their clothes were donated, they had limited toiletries, and no shoes. Additionally, the facility and hygiene areas at the children’s home were not adequate.
However, their caregivers had a special place in their heart for the children. They truly loved them and the children knew it. Because their caregivers were so dedicated, the children of Anbarasi really did have everything money couldn’t buy. We came in to fill in the gaps.
Since that time, we have worked with Anbarasi to make significant improvements. We were able to hire four additional housemothers, a social worker, a supplemental cook, and an administrative assistant. The children began enjoying nutritious, delicious meals and snacks, full of protein and fruit. They received additional clothing and shoes, as well as proper bedding, healthcare, and life skills education. The childcare staff received housemother training and was equipped with a basic understanding of child development, discipline techniques, healthcare and first-aid treatments, and so much more. Additionally, in October 2012, Whole Foods team members traveled to Anbarasi in order to improve the children’s bathing and hygiene facilities!
We are thrilled to see how these simple necessities have drastically improved not only the children’s lives, but the lives of the dedicated staff as well. These deserving children now have the opportunity to flourish, dream, and realize their full potential.