Bhavani is a pleasant young lady who finished her studies at Pathway in April. She and her sisters were abandoned by their father and homeless on the streets near Bangalore when their mother died. Bhavani, at age 8, found a job clearing tables in a hotel to earn money to feed herself and two younger sisters. Rejected by relatives, they were brought to Pathway in 2004, but relocating from Karnataka where the language is Kannada to Pathway in Tamil Nadu required them to learn both English and Tamil.
Bhavani passed all her 10th grade state-standardized final exams except Tamil. While she prepares to re-take this exam, Pathway has offered her employment as a supervisor to help with the small children and in the dining hall. Having grown up here herself, she is a very sympathetic and nurturing caregiver. She still watches out for her sisters, Suguna, now 9th grade, and Nagamal, now 8th grade. When she passes her exam she aspires to more schooling to become a beautician.
A group of 10 to 20 students from SRM University in Tambaram, near Chennai, come each Saturday as volunteers to spend half a day with the children, take over classrooms, teach enrichment material, and serve as role models for the children of English language, education, service, and enthusiasm. The numbers and faces may vary from week to week, but their coming is always eagerly anticipated and appreciated.
This “worship of weapons”, derived from a warrior honoring his sword and asking the gods to bless it to preserve his life, has become a celebration of the tools and implements by which one earns a livelihood. It was observed at Pathway in the carpenter shop where tools and machines were arrayed with flowers and food items. The farm workers decorated their tractors and equipment with garlands and banana trees, sacrificed the traditional pumpkin for safety in the workplace and the traditional coconut for peace of mind. Students in some places decorate their books as their “tools” to knowledge and wisdom. At Pathway the students enjoyed treats and learned something about this cultural holiday.