Helping the Children: Ogden woman helps build school/orphanage in India

Apr 3 2011 - 10:47pm

Images

(Courtesy photo) Kathy Stewart hands out cards and toothbrushes recently to children at the school she is helping build in India.
(Courtesy photo) Kathy Stewart holds a 4-year-old girl whose mother killed herself so her daughter would have a better chance in an orphanage.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Kathy Stewart shows some of her photos from her trip to India in her Ogden home Wednesday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Kathy Stewart on Wednesday in her home in Ogden.
(Courtesy photo) Kathy Stewart hands out cards and toothbrushes recently to children at the school she is helping build in India.
(Courtesy photo) Kathy Stewart holds a 4-year-old girl whose mother killed herself so her daughter would have a better chance in an orphanage.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Kathy Stewart shows some of her photos from her trip to India in her Ogden home Wednesday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Kathy Stewart on Wednesday in her home in Ogden.

OGDEN -- When Kathy Stewart heard about the plight of the children in India near Delhi, she knew she had to do more than write a check: She got busy.

She has now traveled to Delhi twice and held three yard sales to raise money to help build a school/orphanage there, and she's not slowing down yet.

Stewart recently returned from her latest trip to Delhi, a little worse for wear with pneumonia. She is recovering now, but as soon as she reaches full recovery she will hold another yard sale to raise money for a school/orphanage that is under construction.

Stewart's good friend, Beverley Cavanaugh, served an LDS service mission there, fell in love with the children and wanted to help in some way. She shared tales of the conditions there with Stewart, who started working to make things happen.

"That's the difference between her and me. I talk about it, and she goes to work and fixes it," Cavanaugh said of her friend.

Cavanaugh said many of the children there are street children and aren't at the grade level to go to public school. Many live in orphanages and have no chance to become educated. She and her husband started working with Stewart to gather money to build the school and then the three traveled to India last year to get the project started.

Cavanaugh said to watch Stewart with the children was amazing.

"One of the children walked in needing a Band-Aid, Kathy pulled out a Band-Aid and before you know it she was surrounded by children, mending their owies," she said. "Kathy is always prepared."

Stewart said her main motivation for going to India and for putting together huge yard sales is the children. Her voice goes very soft, and she shows pictures of herself with the Indian children. She talked about songs she sang and puppets she used. After her first trip, she headed to Deseret Industries and found every good-looking stuffed animal she could and took them with her on her second trip.

"Kathy just sees things that need to be done and does them," Cavanaugh said. After their first visit to the orphanage, Cavanaugh said, Stewart had already prepared a mental list of everything that needed to be done and fixed right away. Big things, like repairing parts of the building, to little things, like installing a ceiling fan to make the main orphanage room more comfortable.

Stewart and Cavanaugh decided a yard sale would be a good way to raise funds and went to work to have a huge one, getting donations from everywhere.

A local consignment store also pitched in and $3,000 was raised on the first go-round.

Stewart has held more yard sales that haven't been quite as big, but she plans to continue.

"People are so generous," Stewart said of donors.

On her February trip she traveled alone to India, but felt no fear.

She has a guide whom she trusts completely to take her around and she is well taken care of, she said.

Cavanaugh said it was amazing to watch Stewart prepare for her trip.

"She packs so carefully and gets all the air out of everything she takes so she can take more," she said.

Cavanaugh is impressed with her determination to help and so is Stewart's husband, Lee Stewart. He hasn't gone with Kathy to India yet, but loves the fact that she wants to serve.

"Could I stop her? Probably not. Kathy has just got this in her heart. It's more than seeing a need. She loves these kids," Lee said.

He has always completely supported her, because he sees the difference it makes not only in the lives of the orphan children in India, but in her own life.

Stewart said she is just one person, and she knows there are people all over doing the same kinds of things.

She says: "If you can make a life better for a little while, then it's worth it."

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