Location: india

A Grandma Says “Thank You HHI”

In a tribal village, far down a dirt road in the rural district of Angul, Odisha, India, an HHI training was offered to all the mothers and grandmothers to join us to learn about early childhood development.  The response was fabulous, with more than 22 moms piling in, almost all had young infants, and a few had newborns snuggled close to their chests.


The moms were excited and surprised to have a training that would offer education and support for their role as caregivers/mothers, this was a new experience for them.  HHI is unique in offering parent education and even more so because of where and how we do this, that is in extremely remote areas with few resources.  And, while this village has been raising babies for generations, none of their babies came with instruction manuals (just like the rest of the world’s babies!) and they just do the best they know how.


They listened intently, soaking up the new information and merging it into their own knowing and practices.  It is always a joy when I get to witness an HHI training, I learn as much from the participants as they do from our trainers and the conversations that they spark with each other.


A special surprise that I got at this training though was from this grandmother. She was a village elder, born and raised within her tribe, in this small village.  She’s seen a lot in her years and she was a wealth of knowledge.  To my delight she had come to attend HHI’s training and she moved to sit next to me in the back of the room.  I was slightly daunted, thinking, “what could HHI possibly teach her?”.  But, she was very interested in the new information and all of the activities and she leaned over and said to me (via a translator), “Thank you. Thank you for coming to our village. This education is all new to our mothers and they need this, this will make them more intelligent and our children will benefit forever.”

Wow… I was humbled and honored to know the value she saw in HHI.  Thank you grandma!





Building on Commitment & Love

In the tiny tribal village of Khetrapal, in rural Odisha, India, HHI helps make a dream come true.   Since 2007, our partner NGO, Viswa Yuva Kendra, has been supporting the operation of a small crèche center.  This is a safe space where the community’s young children can stay during the day to while their parents are working in nearby fields.  The crèche center also offers the opportunity for basic teaching of pre-school skills for the children and gives the parents peace in knowing their children are safe and being cared for.


This village is purely tribal, representing one of the lowest castes in India, which still carries with it many limitations, stigma and remains synonymous with poverty .  All of the families of Khetrapa live in only 40 houses.  All the villagers are daily laborers, working in fields and on lands that they will never own. When they go to the field their children are spend all day in the crèche center, which is currently made out of straw, bamboo and a tarp. Every year this center is damaged by monsoon rains and wind.  And every year the villagers repair or rebuild it.  But, during the rainy season, no one can use the center, as the floor turns to mud and a steady stream of rain courses over the area.

Viswa Yuva Kendra, and the villagers wanted to do better and they are willing to work for it.  Seeing what the village was currently using, and their commitment to it, we felt compelled to lend our support.  They proposed to HHI that with a modest amount of funding, the villages parents could buy the basic building materials needed to build a simple, but sturdy building that could offer a safe and protected space for their children.

The construction will start in December 2013 and be finished by the end of January 2014. The villagers will contribute labor to the construction of the center.

Daily activities at the crèche are led by two teachers.  Every day includes prayers, keeping the children clean, teaching basic numbers and counting, singing action songs, playing games, storytelling, and dancing. In total there are 18 children 1 – 3 years old and 10 children 3 – 5 years old, benefiting from this small center every day.

Investing in children in their earliest years is the best investment communities can make, and given that this tiny community has already shown such love and commitment to their children, we are honored to help support their efforts in building a real building!  We cannot wait to see it!


HHI’s India Fan Club hosts HHI in Bangalore

- Contributed by: Nishant Vatsal, IFC President

HHI’s India Fan Club was born almost two years ago, from the enthusiasm of a few, it has grown to now become a supportive group to HHI’s core work and mission.

Somewhat spontaneously, the IFC got put into action by HHI and was asked to organize and host HHI’s first ever training in our home city of Bangalore.  From day one of July, the India Fan Club (IFC) commenced reaching out to a matching set of adoption agencies and orphanages in the city. Next thing we know is that our proposal was accepted by Vathsalya Charitable Trust – the best match possible!

Trust me hosting the event was as easy as it sounds, with merely a few exceptional events, which proved to be the ultimate brick walls for IFC, seemed to demand response to questions like, “how badly we wanted to get a breakthrough; to what extent were we willing to persist and persevere to make this event possible?” – and we believe that we did answer the questions courageously, with a lot of enthusiasm and precision at the same time.

We had a dream and we protected it to realization. And we are really very happy that we could.

HHI’s two-day, free training on early childhood development (ECD), kick started on July 21st with 20 foster moms at Vathsalya Charitable Trust with an introduction session and a note of thanks from the President of IFC. It went all day, with breaks for light refreshments and a lunch break. Folks from IFC with help from administrators at Vathsalya Charitable Trust closely monitored the training site to make sure everything was in place.

Later in the afternoon, Laura (an immensely great personality / founder of HHI) and Florence (a very accomplished professional / HHI’s Program & Grants Manager) arrived in Bangalore.  Laura was driven to the training site by Nishant (President of HHI IFC / a mechanical engineer turned IT professional), where she met and thanked everyone. The story of HHI and Vathsalya were explained and appreciations exchanged, resulting in a new amity between HHI and Vathsalya Charitable Trust, Bangalore.

The same schedule was modeled on day two except that we finished an hour sooner for it was a Saturday and mommies had requested for it. Moreover, we also had the graduation ceremony in the cue for the day. Can’t deny, in Bangalore we take our weekends a little too seriously!!

On day two, the excited foster moms along with Laura, Florence, folks from IFC and Vathsalya Charitable were all in attendance. As the president of IFC, I was present on both days of the training actively observing. Personally, I greatly appreciate the interactive nature of the ECD educational programme, which really dwarfed the requirement of the understanding of the language of instruction, which was a bit complicated by the use of multiple langauges.

Of all the modules I was able to attend, I think I got it all. I am through and I have a feeling, my future wife is certainly going to be proud of me when I will share my HHI’s mind blowing knowledge of ECD with her! Well! ..sorry to be so dramatic!

Two days, 8 modules, 18 HHI certified mommies, 700 photographs, a ton of goose bumping feedback, several new friendships and lot of love in the air later, HHI’s first ever early childhood development (ECD) educational training programme in the city of Bangalore concluded.

Did I tell you what the average number of kids that the participants at HHI’s Bangalore training had fostered so far? Well! Its 24! The lowest number of kids fostered being 11 and highest, a whooping 44. And the average number of years since these mommies have been fostering the kids was 9.16.

Looking at these data points, as I said at the outset, Vathsalya Charitable Trust was undoubtedly the best match possible as a recipient of HHI’s training!

And the feedbacks that goose bumped all of us at HHI were these –

“Despite fostering so many children for so long, there are things we learnt in this training, we never knew. We now feel that we simply didn’t know nothing”. (Translated from Kannada and Tamil)

Another foster mom said, “ …the foster moms will now be able to give their children the best care possible”. (Not translated)

Also, we were unanimously told by the participants that that two of the most appealing elements of the HHI training were the baby massage techniques and the cogency, incisiveness and  lucidity rounded by brilliance in our India lead trainer Sujatha’s conduct.

Goes without saying, it was great time and huge honor for the IFC.

Thank you Laura for giving us this opportunity and all that you have done for us and the world!

We are proud of you!

Best regards,

Nishant Vatsal

President | HHI India Fan Club

India Fan Club of the Hands To Hearts International (HHI) is a tiny urban support group of seven members (mostly IT professionals), based in Bengaluru, engaged in the exceptional task of spreading the much needed awareness in the country about the great contribution that HHI is making in India and other challenging regions across the world.An eminent city doctor and an established musician cum fashion expert – who was also a writer at Rolling Stones magazine, India between 2007 and 2008 – are the pro bono advisors of the club.

P.S: On Sunday, July, 22nd, Laura hosted a celebratory dinner for the IFC at a famous Indian restaurant in Bangalore.

Please follow the following links for the photos of HHI’s July event in India:


HHI page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HandsToHearts

HHI IFC page on Linked In:


New Partner- Save the Children!


This week in Tirupati, Andra Pradesh, India, our partnership with Save the Children India launched! We’ve been keeping our lips sealed about this partnership until the contract was signed and we were 100% sure it was going to happen. Its exciting to finally share this big news.

Save the Children has been around since 1919 and works in 120 countries around the world. They work on issues related to children’s rights, survival, protection, development and participation.

Prior to partnering with HHI, Save the Children India didn’t have any birth to three specific programming. Enter HHI! Our local trainers from Odisha traveled to Tirupati to train some of Save’s staff and local childcare workers from India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and certify them in our curriculum. Now Save the Children’s team will go on to lead HHI trainings for ICDS staff at 264 childcare centers around the region. Within one year, our partnership has the potential to train more than 8,300 caregivers, who in turn will improve the care for nearly 17,000 children!

This partnership is a perfect example of how HHI grows through partnerships with existing organizations to reach the most children at the earliest time possible.

Sujatha shares her HHI testimony


“I am blessed that I was trained by HHI as I gained more knowledge about care giving for babies. I don’t see this as a work rather I take it as a challenge and a glorious opportunity given to me to bring up a better tomorrow in every child’s life. Feeling proud to be a part of HHI’s global team.

I strongly felt that the reason for HHI programme’s success with small budget are the best co-ordination of grass roots level beneficiaries (i.e. mothers) and HHI’s highly professionalized training modules.”

-Sujatha, HHI’s Master Trainer in Tamil Nadu, India, leads HHI mommy trainings every month. She has also been our lead trainer since day one when HHI began our work at the orphanage run by Madras Social Service Guild (MASOS) in Chennai. Sujatha has also trained all of our other HHI trainers, around India and she worked in Uganda to launch our project there.

Thank you, Sujatha, for your kind words and even more for your love and dedication to HHI and all of the mommies, daddies, caregivers and babies that you help bring HHI’s message to!