For seven summers, YMCA Camp Harrison at Herring Ridge, in the one-flashing-stoplight town of Boomer, North Carolina, has been home to a special counselor named G. Sumanth Kumar. You can call him Bunty, for that’s how his six- and seven year- old campers enthusiastically refer to him. With a charming accent, goofy smile and joyful attitude, Bunty is an unforgettable part of the camp experience in more ways than one.
“He has an instant connection with these kids,” says assistant camp director Miranda Wyatt. “He can get on their level, and he makes sure they have fun and are safe.” Plus, she says, “Bunty’s campers get to go home and boast to their buddies, ‘I have a friend in India!’”
A friend in India whose devotion to the children of his native land takes this story from India to the Y and back…
Bunty’s family runs Sharon Orphanage, home to 86 kids in Hyderabad, a city of eight million in southern India. “We take care of youth ages 6 to 18,” Bunty says proudly. “We send them to a private school for good education. Once they reach 18 and are done with their basic education, we find them a job and they’re able to leave the orphanage.”
Operating a Christian-based orphanage, Bunty’s family gets very little support in India and often faces harassment from those who do not share their beliefs. Yet, he does not let that stop him from making a difference.
“I am so lucky to have found Camp Harrison where I can share my Christian faith,” he says. “I love it because we don’t have that freedom back home. We had so many religious attacks on Christians last year and our orphanage lost so much.”
To help financially support his family’s orphanage, Bunty travels more than 8,500 miles from home to work at YMCA Camp Harrison for four months each spring and summer. Every week when he receives his paycheck, he sends it home to keep the orphanage running.
Bunty’s fellow counselors and friends have even joined him, contributing a portion of their paychecks to support the orphanage. Bracelets, candles and other crafts made by the children in India are also sold at the camp store to help fund Bunty’s cause.
“We have zero support in India, so getting support from fellow camp staff and being able to work and send all of my earnings to the orphanage surely means a lot to me,” says Bunty. “This camp, it has changed my life.”
“I am so proud of Bunty and our counselors for having such big hearts,” says Miranda. “This story is a reminder that the Y is a global organization that serves all people. The fact that we’re reaching far beyond our camp to share the love of Christ with children on the other side of the world is pretty powerful.”