Kristin. Ladies and gentlemen...you must get to know this girl. I insist.
I first really found Kristin's blog when she had just made the decision to work for Operation Smile in India. She was detailing her suitcase contents and reading lists in vlogs, and the excitement in her writing was palpable. She was going on an adventure and I was instantly hooked.
When she arrived to work in Guwahati her stories became very humble. When reading them you can almost see her slowing down and utterly absorbing the culture and the feelings, the hope and dispair and love and excitement. The emotions in a job such as hers have got to run high, but all of Kristin's tales are of other people. Never negative, always full of optimism.
Her blog is a great read, even for plain ol' voyeuristic lurking, but there's something amazing going on over there that you can be a part of as well. She's created a charitable organization almost by accident.
In her own words from a guest post on Sometimes Sweet:
For a longer time than I like to admit, I walked past these children and though my heart ached deep inside my chest, I did nothing. After weeks of planning, talking with friends, going back and forth and feeling discouraged, I made a decision. It was a basic one: I was going to feed the kids. I went down to the slums that first week scared, shaking and alone.
I had made 20 meals and in under five minutes they were filling the bellies of 20 hungry children. It was clear, I had to keep this going. Now I am almost two months into this project that I call Asha Guwahati, and it is growing by the day.
The goal of what I do is simple, I want to show the children of this slum and street community true love. I feed them without expectation of anything in return. I am still just one person orchestrating these feedings out of my kitchen. I currently make 50 meals at a time, one to two times per week.
It takes me around three hours to make the food, and less than ten minutes to pass it out. Every feeding I have different friends come and help, everyone that helps gives of their time freely. Once a month we hold a street kids day where we bathe, trim hair, and cloth 20-30 kids. I am not changing the world as a whole but very certainly, very slowly, the whole world of each child we care for is changing.
She started using her own money to build little lunch boxes for the neighborhood kids who were clearly malnourished. And then some people heard about this and offered to send her some money. And so she fed more. And then more people heard, and she was featured on Sometimes Sweet ... twice, and suddenly she had enough money for six thousand meals. She's recruited help from friends, and it's all amazing.
I emailed her and asked if she would do a little guest post over here and she said yes (!!) and even sent photos! So without further adieu, the one, the only, the Kristin!
I remember when I was a child, we lived in a town where a train track passed through. Though the track was miles away, I could hear the blasts of its horn as it travelled by. At times it kept me awake at night, even though it was half way across the city. I remember when I was a child I could hardly walk from the front door to the mailbox without a pair of shoes on. If I stepped on the tiniest of rocks I might cry out in pain. When I was growing up I went to school every day, had a meal on the table every evening and most certainly found myself tucked away in bed at night. I remember when I was a child I dreamt of leaving all of that.
I remember standing in the door of my closet one year ago at 25 years old, crying to my (then) boyfriend telling him that I did not belong in the life I knew anymore. I sobbed as I was so worried that my need to change everything and give my life to service might come across as me feeling I was above others. I remember meeting his eyes and telling him "I am not better than this... I am less than this. I am so much less than this."
I remember what it felt like to get on a plane and truly leave it all behind. I remember the very first patient I took care of in Guwahati, I remember the first child I handed out a meal to, the first pair of dirty feet I stooped down to wash, the first wound I cleaned on the street corner. I remember sitting at my kitchen table having a true epiphany that my life was no longer mine, instead it belongs to the children who were deemed untouchable.
All of my memories are nothing compared to what the children here remember. Some remember a life of being an outcast, told to cover their smiles because they have a cleft lip. They remember the feelings of shame, being told it was their mother's bad luck that caused their broken smile. Some of them remember finding hope, being told they are beautiful. Being played with and loved on and given surgery for nothing in return.
Some remember sleeping on cold, hard ground with trains barreling by just feet away. They remember being evicted from their cardboard homes by the government. They remember being told they are the lowest of the low. They remember fellow children dying every year from Cholera as the monsoon rains flood their slum. They remember learning to sniff glue, to get high to make their hunger go away. The children of Lakhtokia remember the first meal served to them by myself and later on my friends. They remember being scooped up into huge hugs, being bathed, being served and loved without expectation of anything in return. They remember the joyful reunions, they remember learning how to give to one another.
Be the hope, create memories for the children in your lives that inspire wholeness. In your smallest of actions, know there is greatness. In life we do not often get to truly see what the light we plant inside others grows into. I promise that if you give selflessly and love endlessly, you will be changing the whole world of each person you serve.
If you want to donate financially to help Asha Guwahati, you can do so via PayPal. Just send the money to firstname.lastname@example.org through PayPal. Easy. It costs Kristin about 25 cents to make a meal so really, every teeny little bit helps. Kristin is not an NGO, and cannot provide receipts or letters for tax purposes or whatever. This is a real informal deal, but I promise you, every cent will go toward helping people who need it and that's all that matters.
If you think you can help another way, if you want to say hello, if you want to fly out to Guwahati and shake Kristin's hand, you can write to her at kristinechaos at gmail dot com.
And I highly recommend you follow along with her adventures here.http://kristinechaos.blogspot.com/