A Visit to Shalom Home – Kodaidanal, Tamil Nadu
Welcome to the Shalom Home for girls currently located in Kodaikanal, a town in the hills of the Western Ghats mountains in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India! At an elevation of 7,000 ft. the weather is cold, with mists often rolling up the hillsides, encompassing the girls in clouds.
At the front entrance there is a large common room used for meals, studying and indoor activities. The girls will almost certainly treat you to a dance performance in this room since music and dance are two of their favorite activities. At night they roll out their padded mattresses to sleep on the floors of the bedrooms in the usual Indian custom. There are 6 full-time and one part-time staff to care for the 43 girls at Shalom Home.
The girls at Shalom Home are there because they had no one to care for them. Some are orphans, some are semi-orphans and other came from dire family situations where poverty and trauma left them struggling to survive. The transition to the disciplined, structured life at Shalom Home is sometimes difficult, but made easier by the support and encouragement from the other girls who have had similar experiences. With the loving care of the staff and the daily provision of nutritious meals, health care and hygienic living, these girls soon flourish. They are full of energy and fun, and also show great respect to the staff and to one another.
And say hello to the 45 girls that grow up together in a rented house in Kodaikanal. Meet the 45 girls aged from four years to 18 years old that have come to Shalom Home at very young ages from very challenging backgrounds and are growing together in a small rented house. We all have a story to tell of how we got here. Shalom Home is a refuge for us as we grow up and prepare for a life on our own. You see, when we reach 18 years old, we must leave the orphanage and live on our own. So, Ruby and staff prepare us for the future. Shalom Home gives us hope for our future. Can you imagine one day walking out the front gate and living by ourselves?
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
What is Unique About Shalom Home?
As you read about the Bethania Kids philosophy of raising up a child, the whole child, you will see that we live a well- rounded life. The staff here share the love of Christ through their loving care of us. We grow together physically, emotionally, spiritually, artistically, and academically. Yes, we go to local schools and Bethania Kids assists us with post-secondary education or vocational training to complete our education and launch us into the world. We love to share our talents in music and the arts. We were very happy when you sent us a container from the U.S. filled with bicycles, music instruments, art and school supplies and many other things. It was like Christmas. Thank you!
What do we enjoy most? Music, dancing, and things that most girls love. We are a sisterhood of sorts since we live in close quarters and know each other very well. Our “mothers” (staff) also know our emotions, our aptitudes, our talents and strengths and they encourage us about our future lives. Sometimes a very young new girl will join us. We understand her. We help each one of them, share our love for them and help them grow with us together.
Our alumni, girls that were raised here and are now on their own, visit us regularly and share their advice with us. They tell us to listen to the staff because they have our best interests at heart, study hard to take advantage of our opportunity for education, grow in love for Christ and each other, serve others, and give thanks. Most of them now have their own families and good jobs. They are solid citizens of India with good value systems and a strong love for Christ.
The Town of Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu
Kodaikanal is a town at the top of the mountains overlooking the plains in the state of Tamil Nadu. Kodaikanal is a refuge from the summer heat of the Plains as it sits atop the Palani Hills and attracts visitors from all over India. Bethania Kids got its start here in Kodaikanal where the founding families were teachers at the Lochend School and the Kodaikanal School (sometimes known as Highclerc). The Lochend School was a boarding school for children of Lutheran pastors, teachers, doctors, etc. serving in India during the first 75 years of the 20th century. There was also a Lutheran Church next to the school. In the late 20th century, Lochend School and Kodaikanal School merged to form the Kodaikanal International School (KIS), which still thrives today with students from all over the world. In Kodaikanal, Bethania Kids is well recognized and it is here that many of our programs were founded and continue today. Kodai, as it is referred to by the locals, has a recreational lake near the center of town. It is a vacation spot for many travelers in India. Its population is around 50,000. In Kodai and surrounding communities, many BK Care Centres and Women’s Empowerment Programs thrive.
The Shalom Home Staff
The current Project Caretaker is Ruby Kumar, who has worked with Bethania Kids residence homes for many years. Ruby is joined by staff Mercy Lilly, Indira, Nahomi, Sahaya Mary, and Arockia Mary. The Director of the Shalom Home for many years was Josephine Selvan, acting as mother to many young women who grew up with the love of Christ and the staff that served them. Josephine became the Coordinator of Programs and Projects in Kodaikanal following her tenure as Director of the Shalom Home.
Meet a young woman from Shalom Home: Saleth Priya
Though we come from extremely poor beginnings, we live together and experience the joy of growing up loved by the staff of Shalom Home and by God. We like to dress up for special occasions in dresses stitched for us by local women. We also love make music and to dance expressing our emotions through these and other arts.
Saleth Priya is a great example of the enormous difference you have made in one young woman’s life. Just three years old when she first joined the Bethania Kids family, she is now 21 years old and has finished 12th grade. She came to Bethania Kids because her father was addicted to drugs and alcohol and physically abused her, her siblings and her mother. Her mother finally ran away from home, and to this day, nobody knows where she is. From a seemingly hopeless situation, Saleth Priya has grown up in a healthy and safe environment at Shalom Home. She has received loving care from the staff, a new family of sisters, and an excellent education. Most importantly, she has been blessed with the knowledge of God’s love for her. How fitting that her favorite song is “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”!
On 8th May 2019, Saleth Priya married Antony, a God-fearing man who is a member of Gapway Church, where Ruby’s son, Oliver, is Pastor. She is now expecting a new family member and she is extremely grateful for the loving support she received from Bethania. Bethania Kids did “Hold her hand when she was in need.”
The New Shalom Home in Batlagundu, Tamil Nadu
It is past time for Shalom Home to have a permanent home of its own. Because it has always been in rented facilities, we have had to move frequently and our current home does not comply with government space requirements. We are all looking forward to the NEW SHALOM HOME about 40 miles away in the town of Batlagundu. Having a new house of our own with playground space, space to study, our own trees, fruits and vegetable gardens will be a joy for us. We have visited the new site three times, including in October 2019 when the land was dedicated. We were delighted to welcome Bethania Kids President Kate Teece and Chairman Larry Zimmerman to the dedication! The building is under construction and we are anxious to see its progress and to move there. We hope you will hold hands with us as we grow together! The Board of Trustees in India and Board of Directors in North America agreed to purchase land in the town of Batlagundu, in the Plains near Dindigul, about 40 miles from Kodaikanal. Bethania Foundation, India owns the title to the site of 3.57 acres. A new two-story home of about 14,000 square feet for 48 women is currently under construction with expected completion early in 2022. A 7-foot high stone wall surrounds the property for security reasons. Batlagundu was selected due to the quality of schools in the town, the prime site, and the scenic view looking to the mountains (Kodaikanal) to the west. In the new Shalom Home, girls will enjoy comfortable sleeping rooms, a separate dining room, study hall, music and arts studio, computer lab, sewing room, and library. (All these activities are now accomplished in two rooms.) We will also have a dedicated playground space and be able to grow our own mango, guava, pomegranate, jack fruit and other trees. It will be a fun place to grow up
History of Shalom Home
The Shalom Home was started in 2006 to meet the needs of children affected by the tsunami on the eastern coast of India near Chennai. The tsunami devastated the coastline and left thousands dead and countless orphaned children. Staff members of Bethania Foundation, including Selvam (Josephine’s husband), Prem Kumar, Gethsy Jayapalan, Dency Michael and Dr. Nirmala Isaac, who donated the Mahanaim building, traveled to the coast and, working with Indian Government officials, rescued approximately 50 children. They were brought to Kodaikanal to live. The Shalom Home and Bethel Home were started in rented space at that time. In accordance with new regulations of the District Child Protection Unit in 2015, Bethel Home was closed and the boys moved to Dayavu Home in Kannivadi. The girls from Dayavu Home moved to Shalom Home in Kodaikanal at the same time.
How Can You Help?
- You can Sponsor A Child (one or more) at Shalom Home for $50 per month or $600 per year.
- Education is important to all of us and scholarships that enable us to attend post-secondary school, college, vocational training give us the skills we need to enter our next stage of life. You can make a gift to “Scholarships” in the Comprehensive Campaign.
- We know many of you pray for us as we readjust to life. We also pray for you, including prayers of thanksgiving to all of you for your generosity. We are happy to know you care for us. Thank you!
- Our biggest need is for completion of our new home in Batlagundu. Your gifts for construction or for furnishings will make a huge difference.
- Churches or individuals can donate to the monthly or annual cost of the Shalom Home for Girls. Monthly expenses for Shalom Home = $2,400; annual expenses = $28,800
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
There are countless ways to participate in this vibrant ministry and share God’s love with the children at Bethania Kids.
Our 100% Promise
We channel 100% of every penny donated into direct ministry for children.
For more information about this and other ministry topics, please contact Bethania Kids at firstname.lastname@example.org or