It might be hard to imagine that the sale of greeting cards and calendars can change a child’s life. Well, if done correctly, it’s very possible, as proven by an innovative organization called Kids Postcard Project. Founded by Antoinette Maclachlan in 2007, Kids Postcard Project helps improve the lives of daughters of prostitutes in Mumbai, India, and orphans in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Additionally, these cards and calendars aren’t just any cards and calendars. They feature beautiful, vibrant drawings made by these children in need.
One reason for the project’s success is that a little goes a long way in both India and Cambodia. A few hundred dollars can put a much-needed new roof on a school in Siem Reap. In Mumbai, the same amount can send a prostitute’s daughter to school and prevent her from falling into the same fate as her mother.
Antoinette, a specialist in Thai Yoga massage and other Eastern healing modalities, started her project in 2006, almost by accident, when she returned to India for the first time in 25 years. One reason for Antoinette’s journey was to process the recent loss of her mother, in part by nurturing her own deep passion for ancient temples. She also had a strong desire to volunteer, particularly with a group she holds a deep sentiment for: the children of prostitutes.
With this in mind, a friend in Mumbai introduced her to Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC), a grassroots organization committed to keeping daughters of the prostitutes in Mumbai’s notorious Kamathiapura red light district off the streets and in school. On her first visit, Antoinette wanted to do something interactive, so she purchased a bunch of blank postcards and asked the girls, who range from age 10 to 19 years old, to make drawings about Gandhi-ji. Upon returning to the United States, an idea popped into her mind. Why not try to sell hand-drawn cards and give 100 percent of the proceeds back to AAWC? She returned in 2007 to get started.
A long-term yoga practitioner, Antoinette was invited to showcase the first batch of “Gods and Hero” themed cards at New York’s The Shala Yoga Center in 2008. Ironically, I saw this show after a nine-month journey in India and Kazakhstan, but only recently made the connection. That same year, Kids Postcard Project also made their first calendar, which highlighted the elephant-faced god Ganesha.
In 2009, Antoinette made her first journey to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat temples around Siem Reap and try to expand Kids Postcard Project. She was having a challenging time finding an organization to partner with and nearly gave up when, toward the end of her journey, she met an Australian woman at the holistic Singing Tree Café who was organizing an art show there. The show was of the children’s art from Orphans and Disabled Arts Association (ODA), a grassroots orphanage founded by Cambodian artist, Leng Touch. Mr. Leng teaches watercolor painting to the 25 children that he and his wife care for at the small children’s home. Partnering with the Postcard Project only seemed natural.
Today, Kids Postcard Project has two 2012 calendars for sale (one from each country, $22 a piece or $40 for both) and dozens of beautiful cards, T-shirts, and totes. Everything is available at www.kidspostcardproject.com. If you are in New York, you can find the calendars at Kula Yoga Center in Tribeca, The Shala near Union Square, and Cobble Hill Yoga in Brooklyn. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to help running AAWC and ODA. There will also be a benefit Kundalini Yoga workshop taught at Jaya Yoga East in Brooklyn, on Saturday, December 10, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., taught by Marie Carter.
Kids Postcard Project is also about to have their first Cambodian show at the Angkor Hospital for Children, which was founded by the famous Japanese photographer Kenro Izu. It will be the first time the children of ODA get to see their art in a show!
Mr. Leng and the kids of ODA in front of the Palapa Art Gallery they built.
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