Published by Health Communications Inc. ISBN 978-0-7573-1858-0
Trade paperback, $15.95, 232 pages
As America is reflecting on the historic visit from Pope Francis, I just read a book that perfectly encapsulates everything he is trying to teach us. Tiger Heart, by Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey, recounts Christie's efforts to aid young Indian women in Darjeeling.
Christie, who once skated competitive Roller Derby and now owns a small tea shop in Atlanta, was having a tough time when one of her customers asked her repeatedly to join her and her Rotary companions to work on a service project in India.
Christie had no interest, but after a bad spell at work with employees stealing from her and quitting on her, she impulsively said yes, she'd go to India. (As someone who once owned two fast food restaurants, I totally got that.)
She found her calling in Darjeeling, and began a project helping young orphaned women. These young ladies were about to be aged out of the orphanage where they grew up. At the age of seventeen, they had to move out the orphanage. In India, they would normally live with their families until they married, so living on their own would be a difficult prospect.
Christie took some of these young women and rented them a home to live in, helped them furnish it, and encouraged them to go to college. If not for Christie and people who helped her on this project, these young ladies would most likely ended up as domestic servants, or being sexually trafficked.
She changed the lives of these girls, and others who came after them. In addition to their school work and jobs, she asked that they volunteer their time helping others as a requirement of living in the apartment.
People she told her story to wanted to help as well. She had the fortunate opportunity to meet the Indian defense minister through a friend and after telling him of her project, he wrote her a personal check to educate one girl for an entire year!
She met a family who invited her to their home for dinner where they presented her with a new DVD player and a karaoke machine for the girls. This family, who did not have a lot of money, told her that each year they save up to do one charitable thing and this was their act for the year. I absolutely love this idea! How wonderful would it be if every family practiced this?
We also learned about Christie's personal life. When she was a young child, she bit other children and adults. She was thrown out of several preschools and after one incident where her father was told to come and get her and take all of her things with them, he began to cry in the car. She asked him what was wrong and he told her that she had superpower teeth and if she continued to bite people (including him), he was afraid she would use up all of her superpowers. It worked and she believed this until she was fourteen. What a clever dad!
She tells a story of a flamboyant gay family friend with whom she has dinner with every week who insists on bringing her a new, crazy outfit she was to change into at the restaurant and model for all. Outfits included ballroom gowns, Jackie O suits and onesie skating costumes.
Every month, Christie holds a Learning Tea dinner at her tea shop where people pay $20 and all the money goes towards her girls. You can help too by going to thelearningtea.com and clicking on the "India Trip" tab.
Tiger Heart is a quick and inspiritional read about a young woman with no special talents except her willingness to help young women a world away and her can-do spirit. I hope that between Katrell Christie and Pope Francis, people are encouraged to make the world a better place by helping others.
You can see a video about The Learning Tea here:
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on this tour. The rest of the tour stops are here:
TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for Tiger Heart:
Monday, September 28th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, September 30th: Run Wright
Thursday, October 1st: Lit and Life
Monday, October 5th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Tuesday, October 6th: The Things We Read
Wednesday, October 7th: Bibliotica
Monday, October 12th: Dreaming Big Blog
Wednesday, October 14th: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, October 15th: A Bookish Affair
Friday, October 16th: Broken Teepee
Monday, October 19th: A Book A Week
Tuesday, October 20th: The Reading Cove Book Club
Wednesday, October 21st: #redhead.with.book
Monday, October 26th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views