Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On June 8th & 9th he visited the Little Hearts Orphanage in Nellore, India. His “Postcard” from the visit:
The facilities at HEARTS’ orphanage seemed basic but adequate for the 42 children currently living there. As the kids grow they will need more space and they’re hoping to add a floor to address this. The children, all from the “untouchable” class, looked healthy and appeared happy. I saw the home at about half capacity as many of the children go to stay with other family members in the summer for 5-10 days (Little Hearts provides transportation money and pocket money to do so).
According to the founder CP Kumar, about 80% of the children are “full” orphans having lost both parents, and 60-70% of the children have lost parents due to AIDS. The orphanage usually doesn’t take in children who are HIV-positive because according to CP Kumar they are “too big of a risk”. They have 2 boys and 1 girl who are infected.
While the project description claims Little Hearts is working to fight the stigma against HIV/AIDS, it sounds like this is not actively being done. They have taken women to get tested, but it appeared that the organization does little beyond this and support the children.
This is a highly founder-driven organization and CP Kumar was open with their financial records. Other organizations in the area steal 90% of the money they receive according to CP Kumar and so he was eager to show me they were part of the other 10%. He even showed me bank account details on his mobile phone. Everything appeared to be in order (though I’m far from a certified accountant).
The true test of the success of an orphanage in my opinion is how well the children transition out of that environment as they get to be adults. HEARTS is too young of an organization to tell, but there is little doubt that these children are in a better situation than they would be otherwise.