Sister Kalika, A Mother of Mongolia

By Mongolia News Group (Originally in Mongolian) 2009.09.27

Didi Ananda Kalika, formerly known as Gabrielle Dowling, is a farmer’s daughter from Australia. She assumed her new name following a journey to India in 1990 where she became an Ananda Marga nun to teach yoga.

In 1993, during her trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, as a yoga and meditation teacher, Didi, or Sister Kalika, saw first-hand the troubles faced by children living in the streets, especially during winter when temperatures can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF, Mongolia has a population of 2.4 million, and in the city of Ulaanbaatar alone, approximately 4,000 children live on the streets.

Answering her deep concerns for the street children, Sister Kalika was given the opportunity to help at a small school where she started her 16-year journey as a “Mongolian Mother.” At first, Sister Kalika provided food and basic medical care to the kids, but after a while she realized that apart from meeting their physical needs, it was important to free them from the poverty cycle by giving them a quality education, counselling and life skills. Based on these goals, in 1995 Sister Kalika and a few caring friends established the Lotus Children’s Center to provide shelter and food for 150 children and abandoned babies, including those with disabilities.

At the Lotus Children’s School, spirituality and academic curriculums are emphasised equally. One of the most important values imparted to the children is the importance of caring for one another, living in harmony with animals, plants and nature. Thus, all children at Lotus maintain a vegetarian diet. Throughout the years, the school has been an illuminating example to the community of how a vegetarian diet and meditation can bring positive results to the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the children. The school now has a vegetarian café to train children in hospitality and vocational skills, and it is planning on expanding the center for more children in need.

For her selfless service to the vulnerable children, Sister Kalika was named 2001’s “Mongolian Mother of the Year,” an honor bestowed on her by the Mongolian government. In September 2008, the Lotus Children’s Center school was recognized with the City Educational Bureau Medal of Excellence for its high academic standards.

On September 27, Golden Year 6 (2009), our Association representatives presented the Shining World Compassion Award on behalf of Supreme Master Ching Hai to Sister Kalika at the Lotus Children’s Center. In addition to the crystal award plaque and a US$10,000 financial gift for the Center, Sister Kalika received a framed award letter, a selection of Master’s publications and other gifts. An entertaining program was also performed for the kids.

Sister Kalika in acknowledging Master’s letter at the award ceremony, expressed, “I need to thank everybody for being here and to the holy Supreme Master Ching Hai who is also a Sister to me. Thank you for your efforts to inspire people to care for each other, to care for the planet, to care for each animal, each plant and each child. I think people know that the Lotus stands for something very pure, which is the children who are very pure. And the Lotus is expanding, so I hope that all our minds can expand and also that every one of us can think of what we can do to give more love and care on this planet.”

Our deep gratitude to Sister Didi Ananda Kalika for helping the vulnerable children of Mongolia. May all lovely angels at the Lotus Children’s Center grow up to be happy, wholesome and spiritually-minded individuals who help their fellow Mongolians and nation to be even more noble and beautiful.