Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I've Been Thinking About Lately...

Start something new; think it will go one way, only to find it leads you down a totally different path.

Lately, I have been thinking about how much I have learned from working on Project Jatropha. Not about bio fuels, Jatropha seedlings, intercropping, but about people and their spirits. It is easy to see how we differ in our cultures, but not as easy at first to see the similarities. As I have learned about people who live far away, those with differing ways of life, customs, philosophies, I am realizing how much we are all truly the same.

No matter what our situation in life, people are able to be happy. I have learned that impoverished does not mean unhappy. There are many happy children in the orphanages; they are happy in their families, communities, and home. Their surroundings are what they know, and no matter how bad their life may seem to me, it is the life these children know. They smile, laugh, and play, rising above the impoverishment. It is this image that has taught me to respect all people, regardless of their plight in life. I have learned never to judge others.

Apoorva, my friend and partner in Project Jatropha took pictures of many of the children and women in rural southern India on their last trip in June. Apoorva had this wonderful picture of a very old woman, sitting alone on the dirt floor under a thatched roof, apparently with so little. I could see no running water, and no walls to shelter her. I felt so bad for such an old woman living in these poor conditions. Apoorva told me how this lady sits and sings. Again, very humbled. Try to think beyond your own perspective. TRY!

I have learned to respect the human spirit, because it is capable of having hope, and fighting to rise above life’s difficulties. The human spirit is truly amazingly optimistic, replenishing, and enduring; how wonderful a lesson I have learned from my work with Project Jatropha.

Humility learned from others.

One time when we offered shoes to children in an extremely rural area, we were turned down, they told us that these children had developed calluses on the bottom of their feet, and if they were to wear shoes and then not have them, their feet would bleed and blister. It seemed so obvious, but yet I never thought of it. Again, I was humbled. I truly feel humility at how little I know.

Through my work with Project Jatropha, I have learned of children who are orphaned and abandoned. Children who struggle to survive each day. They struggle with illness, malnutrition, and lack of water, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs. I am humbled by the good in people, those who help others and make personal sacrifices for others. The orphans in Haiti and India have wonderful selfless people there that are trying to take care of them. They have people like Michelle Lacourciere, Executive Director at Sirona Cares trying to support them in so many ways. She runs a foundation that works in third world communities to stop the progression of poverty and ecological destruction. In Haiti she has supplied children with medication and toiletries. She works with the Moringa Project that strives to reverse the effects of malnutrition. She has launched water projects to help orphanages have clean water. Through Michelle I have participated with Flip-Flop Fleet, an organization that provides shoes to impoverished children in third world countries. I have collected clothing, shoes, and funds from my friends and communities for children in Haiti and India. I have collected French children’s books for efforts in establishing Reading Rooms to encourage literacy and help children begin a love of reading. The more I do, the more I find needs to be done.

I have seen the beautiful faces of children in Haiti and India that have so little. How these images have motivated me to care, and to try and help. I am receiving less tangible rewards. Individual growth. Respect for others. Appreciation. Humility.

Much Love,


  1. Dear Callie,
    It is a very inspirational blog post! Great work. The story that you shared about kids not wanting the flip flops because they already have the nature given one with Calluses makes you think twice before coming assumption. Where did this incident happen? Is it in India or Haiti? Who else was with you then. How many times have you gone to India and Haiti?
    I was thinking may be the kids can interview you about this particular event, your experience and publish it in school news paper. This will show some important cultural issue like they do not accept each and everything if they don't need though it is free. This is a very important lesson.
    You can be a role model because though you are born and brought up here and you have no roots in India or Haiti, you still manage to endure the hardship and travel overseas to help them. Many kids collect food items, clothing, books etc which is great by itself, but going all the way to a developing country to get a first hand experience like you have described is over he top!
    Great Job kids!

  2. Hello Project Jatropha Team,

    Just following up on the last post. I am interested in taking the project up to the US kids of Oriental origin other than India too. My kids want to do a massive clothing and flip flop collection and see if they can form a partnership with NPO like Sirona Cares. Can you help us by connecting us with them?

    And, Callie, I found out that you have not been to India or Haiti yet from a DES mom who is a common friend. Well. you have done a great job here by bringing in this humanitarian aspect into Project Jatropha. We want to follow the same path. We are determined to help the kids globally because we are inspired by what you kids are doing.


  3. Thank you Kristina. I have never gone to India or Haiti, maybe someday I will be fortunate enough to travel there. I am only 16 and do not have the finances to travel this far away. For now, my partners in Project Jatropha, Adarsha and Apoorva travel to India to continue our ongoing work planting Jatropha seedlings. Their latest trip was in June, please see our web site to learn about that trip. They worked so hard there, and accomplished so much. I am truly lucky to be a part of their team. We are working with the Sirona Cares Foundation, the Director is working in Haiti. She is doing wonderful work there, helping the orphans. We have many projects that we are working on, I hope you will continue to follow our project, and see where the future will lead us. It really has been a wonderful experience and all three of us are learning so much! As I said, the more we learn, the more we do, and the more we find still needs to be done. Also, there are many wonderful organizations that you can contact. The Sirona Cares Foundation is truly fantastic. You should look at the website and see how much there is to do in Haiti. I have been amazed at how many people give so much to help others! We will continue to look for ways to expand our project, and help as much as we can. Thanks again, good luck!


  4. Dear Ms. Roberts,
    Great story. This project with all its extensions and branches look like it is heading in a great direction! Keep up the good work.
    I saw your team on comcast news the other day. Buy! you guys are kids!!