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Operation Shanti StarSeeds Playground Project

In the Spring of 2012 the teachers, students, parents, and friends of StarSeeds SF came together to raise over $5,000 to build a playground for the Operation Shanti Orphanage in Mysore, India.

In August 2012 StarSeeds founder Kendra Pinkerton travelled to the orphanage with money and supplies and oversaw construction of the playground. Two identical areas were built, one for the girls and one for the boys. The StarSeeds community would like to thank everyone who participated in this amazing experience. It was truly a gift to the children at Operation Shanti as well as a gift for those who participated in making the dream a reality. Everyone at StarSeeds is looking forward to the next project! Stay tuned!

The project was also featured in SNAP, a Hipstamatic publication. Click here to read the article.

THE SITE: Before


Photos by Baxter Smith

About the inspiration for Operation Shanti StarSeeds Playground Project:
A Letter from Kendra Pinkerton, co-founder of StarSeeds, March 2012

As many of you know, before I opened StarSeeds I traveled to India to volunteer at the Operation Shanti orphanage. Shanti is a charitable organization founded by a very special woman from San Francisco. A few years ago, she went to Mysore to practice yoga. While there she stumbled upon her true purpose: helping the local children, some as young as three, who were working the streets with nowhere to live. She decided her purpose was to provide them with a home and an opportunity to access education. With much support, Shanti has grown into a fully functioning orphanage where the children live while attending a nearby school.

My experience volunteering at Shanti was life-changing. The spirit and resilience of the children there is beyond inspiring, especially knowing some of the extreme trials and traumas many had experienced. For three months I facilitated play, taught small groups of children, and helped out around the orphanage.

One of my favorite memories was the last day I spent with the kids. It was a Holiday and school was out, so all forty kids were at the Orphanage all day. Creating an activity that would work for everyone, ranging in age from two to twelve, was a challenge, but they were pretty excited when I taught them Hot Potato and the Freeze Dance. Once we got warmed up, they asked if they could perform for me. I gladly accepted, and was touched by how excited they were to put on a show in my honor. The next hour was one of the highlights of my trip to India. Each child got up in front of everyone and either sang or danced, or did both. The pure joy that each of them had performing, even those that were a bit shy, was unreal. The room would burst into applause after each performance ended. I had a moment watching them where I realized I had become the student, they the teachers, teaching me the meaning of true strength, the true strength of being able to find joy in all situations in life, especially the hard ones. I was so moved by this lesson. I will always remember the kids at Shanti for being so supportive of each other-so filled with hope and joy-even though life had dealt them many challenges.

I left feeling inspired and excited to begin my own work with the kids of StarSeeds, but I also knew deep inside that I wanted to give back to this special group of kids. I also had a vision of connecting San Francisco kids with these kids to begin fostering a sense of global citizenship at an early age.

On my very last day at Shanti, as I pulled away in my rickshaw, I realized what I could give back: A playground. Operation Shanti has wanted to add a playground to the orphanage for some time, but the costs of school, books, food, medicine, and clothes don’t leave much extra for such investments. I am pleased to say that the StarSeeds community is going to join together to raise the money needed and that we will return to Shanti this summer to help build the playground.

Over the next six months, with your help, we will raise $5,000 (the cost of the playground). We will also hold a used clothing, toy, and supply drive so I can bring these items with us. We feel blessed to have a great group of friends, family members, artists, and musicians all coming together to support this effort.

This summer when we return to India we plan to work with the kids of Shanti and the local community to build a playground that they can call their own. With Operation Shanti’s help, we’ll source local materials and construction supplies and ask members of the local community to participate in building the playground.

On the San Francisco end, we are excited to bring our community together around this and to involve our kids. StarSeeds cultural curriculum was partly inspired by my experience in India. We believe exposing kids to other cultures at an early age helps cultivate global citizens of the future. Our students will help with the playground project.  They’ll learn about the kids in India, about their customs, foods, language, and lifestyle, and we’ll also discuss the idea of giving to and sharing with people who have less resources than we do. Once a month we’ll have an art project where the kids will brainstorm ideas for the playground. We’ll bring those ideas to India and combine them with the ideas from the Shanti kids to create an amazing playground together.

We have already talked with some of you about this project and we are excited that your employers, companies, and families want to help. Over the next few months we’ll post list of supplies needed, information about fundraising events, and instructions on how to donate.

We are so blessed to have an amazing community of people who are able to come together and support this project. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to be involved.

Thank you, Kendra Pinkerton