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Milagro supports Little Stars School for street children in Varanasi, India

Milagro's Friend, Robin Fryday made a site visit in January to one of our grantees, Little Stars School in Varansi India. Read about her amazing experience. Visit to Little Stars School Varanasi, India Amidst the crowded streets of Varanasi, surrounded by holy cows, rickshaws, women in beautiful saris and the constant flow of people making their pilgrimage to the Holy City, sits an oasis of learning and nurturing called Little Stars School. Asha Pandi founded the school on her parents’ rooftop in 1996. Her vision of educating the poorest children of Varanasi, including the children of beggars and the children of rickshaw drivers, has succeeded far beyond expectation. In her small schoolhouse, 400 students daily learn academics, music, dancing, and skills such as sewing and cooking. In addition, the 3rd floor of the school is home to 20 orphaned street girls, ages 3 to 16. As a photographer, with a passion for capturing the spirit and hope in a child’s eyes, I was presented with endless opportunities for taking beautiful photographs of the children who attend Little Stars School and the girls who live there, but something unusual and unexplainable happened to me during my visit. I found myself unsatisfied with being an outsider separated by the safety of my lens. Instead of reaching for my camera to capture the moment, I set my camera aside and embraced the moments. I shared amazing and unforgettable times with Asha and the children from riding a boat on the Ganges, touring the old city of Varanasi, dining in a local restaurant with the 20 girls and laughing hysterically while playing “telephone” around the table, to cooking pasta and garlic bread for the teachers and girls at the school with the help of Asha. I could talk endlessly about Asha’s warmth and generosity, but what she has done for the children of Varanasi in her schoolhouse and orphanage says it all. Asha’s vision for the future of her school, the street girls who reside there, and the future generations of Varanasi’s children will continue to inspire me in my efforts here at home to help continue her dream. I did return home with some photos to share, but mostly I returned with memories of the joyful, hopeful and beautiful children of Little Stars School, forever etched in my mind and heart. Robin Fryday January 2008

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