There were four places we visited with a humanitarian aim while in India. The first was Rocky’s house.
Rocky is an American guy who was touched by the plight of the people living with AIDS when he visited India, and so he sold all his possessions and moved there to help. He married an Indian woman and they just had their second baby.
If you watch the two minute trailer HERE of the film Blood Brothers, which won two awards for documentary (Grand Jury and Audience) at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, you will get it. You will get what Rocky is doing here.
From our short time together, Rocky seemed (to me) to be a laid-back guy with a big heart, which is a perfect – if not necessary – attribute for someone living the life he chose.
I wanted to spend more time there. I thought we would have a whole day, but our two weeks were sort of chaotic with lots to do and see, and Hisill needed to be back for an afternoon meeting.
In addition, I got my first bout of food poisoning on this trip (out of two) that morning and was miserably nauseous. Then on top of that, I slipped outside their house on a wet, sloping tiled bit and fell hard on my tailbone and elbow, and I could feel my vertebrae crunching and folding into itself like Russian dolls. So I was not able to appreciate the overall experience like I wanted to.
We gave individually-wrapped gifts to everyone there because we wanted them to feel loved and special. They are all teens now, and there is even one young adult couple from the home who married and have a child, who – praise be to God – does not have AIDS.
Rocky’s home is where they all get together to receive the support they need to live, work, and get their medical treatment. This area has one of the few hospitals in the country that treats people with AIDS.
We had time enough to spend an hour with them, and then quickly went to visit the nearby buildings where they sleep.
(The girls place was decorated more nicely than the boys). 😉
We went from there to the second place, which was was not far away. In fact, both were on the way from Pondicherry, where we had been spending a couple of days, and Chennai, the suburb of which we were staying. This is the HOPE orphanage.
We couldn’t stay long here either, because of Hisill’s meeting, but that turned out just as well considering how I was feeling. Can you tell I’m about to drop?
The orphanage was closed down for awhile and is in the process of being opened back up. They get children from the streets, and also from the hospital – those who have just lost their last remaining parent. The little girl in the picture here is one such case and was newly brought to the home.
This is a neat mobile computer lab that they have to teach the older orphans.
We spent such a short time there I don’t have more details to share with you.
The third place we visited was the school, which I told you about here. I am happy to announce that all of the most important teaching supplies were bought, and I want to extend a special thanks to those of you who contributed. They still need the flash cards, CDs, and children’s books so if you are moved to donate, you’ll find the link in the blog post.
The fourth place we went to – and this, right before coming home – was another orphanage, called Angel Wings, run by a couple who left their professions nearly a decade ago to start the orphanage. The founder of Angel Wings had a vision that she needed to leave her homeopathic medical career and work with the poor, so she did.
In the past, they’ve provided evening classes to educate people in slum areas, and have trained destitute women in sewing so they can earn an income. They now run an orphanage for 17 boys. I should clarify that many, but not all of the children are orphans; some come from families too poor to support them.
Once a year, the children go back to the communities they came from (or to their families if they have one) so the couple can have two weeks off to visit their own friends and family in the region they left. We came during this period so we didn’t get to meet any of the children.
However, we were able to give from the stash of things we brought, including part of my children’s entire lego set, which took up one large duffle bag. The rest of the legos (plus sheets, clothes, toiletries, and games) were redistributed to other places, including some of the villages that had been hard-hit by the cyclone.
Angel Wings educates the children in scholastics, life, and Christianity. In addition to schoolwork, they learn to keep things tidy, eat properly, and to praise God. Most of them would never learn these values were they not taken in by the orphanage and it was encouraging to see the good that is being done here.
I was initially planning to tell you about some of the stories of faith I met with while in India, but I think I’m going to save that for another time so this post is not too lengthy. Truthfully, I wanted to have more experiences like at the HOPE school where we interacted more with the children, but overall I’m happy to have had these experiences. Our children were able to give directly from what we’d collected and what they sacrificed from their own possessions. And sometimes the main lesson they learned was just to listen while an adult was sharing his or her story, and to wait patiently even when there were no kids to amuse them. I do think they grew in patience during this trip.
I think the main lesson for me (because I’m growing too) – in not being able to spend as much time at each place as I could have wished – was that even though it seemed I wasn’t doing anything life-changing or that had lasting effect, it doesn’t mean what we were doing had no effect at all. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.