Program Highlights

School Sponsorship Program


During the past year, Shanthimalai had over 240 applicants for school sponsorship. New sponsors are urgently needed, individuals or groups who would value the chance to support the education of a child in need.

The sponsorship contribution for a full year of education is only $420 - or $35/ month. This includes school fees, uniforms, school supplies, and regular medical checkups.

Over the years you can watch and encourage your sponsor child's development. In return, your sponsor child can rely on you to help him, or her, finish school. The sense of security this gives to a child in need is immeasurable.

Each December, you have an opportunity to write to your sponsor child, although this is not required. In the spring, you receive two photos and, if you choose to send a letter, you receive a letter from your sponsor child in reply. Many sponsors find it a joy to keep in touch in this way: it brings their sponsored child more closely into their own family circle. Naturally, students and their families are deeply grateful to their sponsors for the gift of a quality education. Photos of sponsors are normally kept in places of honor within their homes.

Most Aruna Partnership sponsors are individuals or families. We also welcome group sponsorships - perhaps a book group, or a school or even a classroom that will take responsibility for one child until he/she graduates. This can be a valuable educational experience for those of us here in the States.


100% of your tax-deductible sponsorship gift goes to India, for the education of your sponsored child.

Can you help? Or do you know someone who would like to become a sponsor?

Please contact Robin Walden for more info:

The Om Shanthi Project

Thanks to very generous donations, construction has begun on a much-needed hospice for elderly widows and abandoned women. This will be the third Om Shanthi Home.

Although funding was available, construction was delayed until September due to the severe drought that affected all of Tamil Nadu this year. Without water it was impossible to mix the concrete. We had to bore a new well, because the old one was totally dry. The first boring was not successful, although it was 600 feet deep. Anna Etter then found a water expert in Germany, who volunteered to help if we could reimburse travel costs. He found water in the garden of the Om Shanthi Home at 60 feet, which was a big relief. Now the widows have a reliable source of good drinking water. In August, rain finally came, abundantly, so everybody was very happy.


Once water was available, construction could finally begin.

A Boomi Pooja was offered on September 15th, to honor Mother Earth and ask her permission for building the new home.

Construction has progressed steadily throughout the fall. If all goes well, the new building may be ready sometime in January!


The hospice is urgently needed. Often elderly women are found in such terrible condition they need to spend days or weeks in the hospital before they're strong enough to come to Om Shanthi. It will be wonderful when they can be cared for in the Om Shanthi hospice until they are better and can move into one of the other houses. Women who are nearing the end of their lives can also be moved from a regular home into hospice, where they can be cared for in peace.


Sarada is someone who would have benefitted a lot from hospice care when she first arrived. Relatives had dumped her on the side of the main road, telling her to wait, they'd come back for her. They never did. Lying there by the road, unable to walk, Sarada was barely alive. She had to be brought first to the hospital. When she was strong enough, staff moved her to the Om Shanthi Home. Unable to stand and extremely weak, she couldn't sleep in a bed and couldn't get to the bathroom in time to relieve herself.

Sarada smelled terrible, and the women rejected her. Since she was from Kerala, she was unable to speak Tamil and couldn't communicate with anyone until staff members were able to find a translator for her.

Sarada's determination was incredible, though, and her efforts to help herself were deeply moving. She dragged herself to the bathroom with her arms, and tried to help scrub her scalp and body when she was bathed. Slowly, Sarada won a place in the hearts of all the women. Today she's the darling of the Home!

Here's a recent video of Sarada sitting with her friend Lioba. Even though you can't see the other ladies, you can hear and feel how delighted they are by Sarada!

Sarada and Lioba

Women who urgently need a place to stay are brought regularly now to the Om Shanthi Homes:


Gowri (in the yellow sari) comes from Chennai, has no relatives at all, and is very happy to be with us.

Kannama, who is mentally disturbed, was rescued from the street. The hospital is examining her to see how we can best help her. It's amazing how strong our Indian sisters are in spite of all the misery they have endured. Their suffering is something that we can hardly imagine, and yet, no matter what they go through, they somehow keep their dignity.

Widow and Daughter

A second very important part of the Om Shanthi Project offers young widows a reliable way to support themselves and their children by producing beautiful Fair Trade handcrafts. The program provides a safe place to work, a steady income, free medical care, and educational help for their children.

For a glimpse of one of the women's craft societies at work: Focus On Design.

Please consider making a gift to the Om Shanthi Project today.

Professional Training Program (PTP)


Companies in India today are seeking exemplary employees who are hard working and well trained. The Professional Training Program (PTP) connects great candidates with the human resource managers who are looking for them. Over the years, the repeated success of PTP has led to strong relationships with schools and employers. PTP has grown to include over 30 educational partners, as well as 18 companies across the Tamil Nadu region. The opportunities offered by these strategic partnerships are life changing.

Mr. Venkatesan, Coordinator of the Professional Training Program, recently received the following letter from the Gedee Technical Training Institute about one of the PTP students, S. S. Prakash. The letter affirms the tremendous potential of our students when they are given a chance to succeed, while exemplifying the warm relationships PTP has carefully built with partner institutions:

Kind Attn: Mr.Venkatesan.G, Manager - PTP

Greetings from Gedee Technical Training Institute,

It is my honor and pleasure to inform you that Mr.S.S.Prakash, R.No:M1414, your sponsored trainee, is doing his final year training successfully in Mechatronics Course.

We are very happy to inform you that he is very good in his academics, he has secured 5th Rank during his V Semester Examinations.

Now, he is in a preparation for his Final Semester examinations, in the meanwhile, he has undergone in plant training at our CNC Machine Manufacturing Plant - M/s. Gedee Weiler Pvt Ltd., at Podannur, Coimbatore,

He has undergone Campus interviews and got an offer for industrial training for further 1 year at M/s.Brakes India Pvt Ltd at Paadi, Chennai. They offered a stipend. His tenure shall be extended even after Industrial training according to his performance.

We are sure, that he can perform good at Industry too. As he is a hard worker with good attitude, he can achieve higher levels in all his endeavours.

Above all he has got a good support from the trust for his studies. Thank you for the generous support extended. May you continue providing more support and encouragement for more students to be the best in their chosen fields.

Attached please find few photographs of him.

Expecting your kind co-operation in the days yet to come.

Thanks and Regards,

For Gedee Technical Training Institute

Smija Satheesh

GTTI - Admin

PTP Students

Prakash is one of several students who received generous PTP scholarships from the Moxie Foundation in San Diego. His success is a success for his family, for his village, and for us all.

An alumni directory is being put together so current students can access alumni for brain storming and career guidance. Alumni of the program genuinely care and "are there" for the new students.

For more information about PTP:

Girivalam Seva

Arunachala and Shiva Temple

Located at the foot of Arunachala, a Mountain held sacred by the Indian people for thousands of years, Tiruvannamalai is one of the most frequently visited places of pilgrimage in South India.

As a spiritual center, Arunachala regularly attracts huge crowds of people who circumambulate the Mountain in the traditional manner. At full moon, hundreds of thousands arrive in the area within 24 hours. The number of pilgrims increases each year, reflecting the strength of spiritual values and traditions among the general population.

On full moon and festival days, many temporary shops and food stalls are set up to serve the pilgrims. In the past, food containers were biodegradable, but modern times and bigger crowds bring new problems in the form of toxic waste discarded along the road that circles the Holy Mountain.

Plastic Trash

Plastic waste pollutes the ground water.

Life-sustaining wells run dry when trash blocks the inflow of water.

Germs and pathogens present a health risk for the population, especially for children.

Animals eat the garbage and often die miserably.

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced 'Swachh Bharat', the 'Clean India' Project. Encouraged by this nationwide call, Amma of Shanthimalai - with a team of gardeners, volunteers, and destitute women in need of work - began cleaning the pilgrimage road and established the Girivalam Seva Project. Always seeking to work hand-in-hand with the local municipality, the project is helping to increase environmental awareness in the area.

Mr. Jagannadhan

Mr. Jagannadhan, the supervisor of Girivalam Seva, constantly looks for innovative ways to improve the project. Recently Mr. Jagannadhan participated in a 10-day waste management training program. He learned about ways to deal effectively with bio waste and explored new ideas for recycling plastic waste.

The positive impact of Girivalam Seva on the environment is striking in the 7 kilometer area maintained by the project. 480 trash barrels - installed at intervals of about 30 yards on both sides of the Giripradakshina Road - are regularly emptied and cleaned on the inside and out.

It costs $1,000/month to run the project. Every gift helps!

Your contributions honor this ancient place of pilgrimage, and nourish all who participate in Arunachala's holy atmosphere.