I have been utterly blown away by the generosity of our customers! As of 8 am on Friday morning, May 28th, we have raised $28,327!
On top of the $2,000 initial donation, Lotus Sculpture is matching the $8,338 donated in the first 24 hours. That brings the total to $36,665!
From the $2,000 wire payment made to Balan on 5/19, we were able to donate 175 bags of rice to needy villagers in India. An additional $19,097 was wired to Balan on 5/24 to purchase rice for another round of distributions.
Balan has focused on the villages around where he lives in Mamallapuram by contacting village leaders and asking them to give names of families who have the most need. These are mostly agrarian families who live day to day earning their living by working in the fields for their daily needs. With a full lockdown in place, they are unable to work and are going hungry.
We made the decision to donate 25kg rice bags because rice is the central staple of the Indian diet and can easily feed a family for up to 3 weeks.
“It is difficult to explain the feeling I got when I saw their eyes fill with relief.” ~Balan
Balan has already purchased 1800 bags of rice (25kgs) with the 2nd wire sent of $19,097 on 5/24.He has been in contact with village leaders around Mamallapuram compiling lists of families with the most need.
Currently, no one is allowed to leave their homes with police enforcing people staying in their homes. On Monday, May 31st, when the harsh lockdown lifts there will be 8 local points where the bags of rice will be distributed.
These points will be at Balan’s home as well as the homes of his friends and local leaders. (We will send a newsletter with pictures of the 2nd round of donations next week.)
What Is Still Needed:
We will continue to give as long as there is a need. With the lockdown measures in place indefinitely there is still a need for aid.
In the first week of June, we will send another wire for rice distribution around our bronze artists in Kumbakonam and Swamimalai. We have already contacted our artisans and have started compiling lists of families in these areas.
Give knowing that 100% of every dollar you give goes to buying rice in South India.
As many of you have already seen on the news, the situation in India is very dire. With over 26 million cases of COVID and close to 300 thousand deaths and counting, India’s daily death toll has hit the world’s highest and unfortunately is not showing signs of slowing any time soon. Spreading to India’s rural communities which lack adequate medical facilities, people are desperate for any help they can receive.
I have been brainstorming with my good friend and Lotus Sculpture artist, Balan, on what we can do to help. Balan, who lives in Mahaballipuram in Tamil Nadu, India, toured local villages to speak with the people and see what families need. Two of those stories are below and I encourage you to read them and hear firsthand what daily life is like in India.
“I had visited more than 20 villages nearby Mamallapuram. I just understand… we must help them with 25-kilo rice bags to every poor family… the basic food is rice. 25 kilos rice bags cost 1000 Rupees ($13.75) depending on the quantity we buy.”
Together we came up with a plan to distribute an everyday staple that families need; 25-kilogram bags of rice. Earlier this week Lotus Sculpture donated $2,000 for Balan to purchase rice for local families. He will be distributing the rice on Monday, May 24th.
I am personally asking you to help us with donations for the 2nd round of aid scheduled for later this coming week.
Lotus Sculpture will match every dollar donated.
100% of the money donated will go to direct aid to the people struggling to make ends meet in this terrible time.
One 25kg bag of rice costs $13 and can save a family in need. Please click on the link above to make a donation or contact me directly if you would like to donate more; [email protected]
This is one of those times that you have the ability to change the lives of families who need help.
– Kyle, founder of Lotus Sculpture
Below are two of the most extreme stories we have heard but these are the people who will benefit from your donations…
Kumar and Chathanthi are a couple also from Karumarapakkam village. They have two sons, Johnson and Ruben. Both of their sons have down syndrome. Kumar and Chathanthi work in the fields and earn 100 to 200 Rupees daily ($1.40 – $2.80). They use this income to feed their sons, for medical expenses, and for essential items including rice, sugar, cooking oil, and kerosene at the ration shop in the village. In the current situation they are unable to feed their children and take them to the hospital without any money coming in. They too are relying on charity and desperately waiting for the curfew to be lifted.
Ansari and Gunsar are a Muslim couple from the village of Karumarappakkam. They have two sons, Kalisa and John Pasha. Ansari buys and sells scrap metal. He earns between 400 and 500 rupees a day ($5.50 – $6.50). Similarly, their eldest son, Kalisa, walks to the villages around his home every day selling samosas. He makes 50 to 100 Rupees ($.70 – $1.40) a day. The second son, John Pasha, was born with cerebral palsy and hand and foot deformities at birth. He is 14 years old. With the coronavirus curfew, the father and brother are unable to move around and thus cannot earn an income even to feed themselves. They have been living off of charity alone and will continue to do so until the curfew is lifted.
Over the past year, I have been getting pleas from our artisans over their situation due to Covid. With no domestic customers buying statues in each country and no tourists creating any other domestic demand, their only source of revenue has been Lotus Sculpture.
We have tried our hardest to support our artists during this time by ordering more statues to help make up for their overall loss of orders. A full four months into this year we have already ordered as many statues from our artists as we did all of 2020.
I have asked a couple of our artisans to say how covid has affected them. Here is a collection of their responses.
~Kyle, founder of Lotus Sculpture
It took me 5 years of searching to find the small village where the majority of wood statues in India are produced. There, in Tamil Nadu, I met my wood artisan Natarajan (the man to my right pictured below). It has been over 13 years, and I have been working with him ever since.
Here is what Natarajan has to say about COVID and the relentless effect it has had on his business, his family, and his artists:
Balan is my dearest friend in India. He is like a brother to me. I contact him every night and it makes me so sad to hear news about the current situation
Piyush is my brass artist in New Delhi which is at the epicenter of where the virus is exacting the harshest toll at the moment.
He has had three people in his immediate family pass away from the virus in the past month. I often say that the media overinflates the bad news, but in this case, I do not think they are doing the current situation in India justice. It is very bad there!
Every time I visit my friend, Jew, I come away with more respect and admiration for him and what he does. He and I share a passion for the statues he creates, he with a firm love of making Buddha statues and I with a firm love for sharing them with the world.
Jew is a 40-year-old producer of Buddha sculptures in the small village of Nakom Pathom, Thailand, about an hour and a half north of Bangkok. Having known him for 12 years now I always knew that he took over the business from his father who started it 40 years ago. What I learned on this trip was that Jew had taken over a struggling business at the young age of 20. I was always under the assumption that his father had a thriving business that he took over and made better, but this was not the case at all. Jew’s father had only one artist working for him while Jew has created a prosperous business employing all the families in his surrounding village of almost 40 people. Click here to view his Buddha artists handcrafting Buddha statues. Every day he spends hours going over each of the statues to make sure they are being executed correctly. He is very concerned with the well being of his workers. He pays them well and wants them to succeed.
I first fell in love with his work because he had the best patinas on his sculptures that initially made me mistake them for antiques. He had beautiful antique patinas that no other producer was able to create. This is still the case today. He recently developed two new patinas of a stunning antique green and a deep red mixed with gold leaf. I went out to dinner with him last night and in his broken English he summed up his worldview…
“When I die, I cannot take money with me. Money paper…I make Buddha, I pray Buddha so I can be born next time.”
When I asked him about his customers he told me the majority of his business, besides Lotus Sculpture, comes from temples within Thailand. I asked him if he sold to the antique dealers of the Riverside mall in Bangkok who are known to sell fake antique Buddha statues. He leaned over to me and said, “No, I do not lie.”
This is who he is, he is the salt of the earth with a good heart. I love his family; his crotchety old mom who yells at me every time I see her in Thai I do not fully understand, his beautiful wife and 3 children. And most of all I love him!
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