This year living in India provided not only amazing memories, but also a great classroom to better understand the Indian culture, the needs orphans have here, and how to strategically and biblically address those needs.
I have learned that many parents in India view children as only a means of support in their old age.
It was Christmas morning and Sandiya could not have been more excited. Yeah, she had a slight fever and her nose was stuffy, but her mom was coming to take her home for a few days! When her mom arrived, Sandiya was so excited to tell her all about our exciting Christmas morning together. As soon as her mom realized that she was sick, plans changed. She no longer wanted to take her home. Sandiya, as you can imagine, was heartbroken.
Even Christians, who choose to raise their own children, do not argue with those who choose to place their child in an institution until the child is old enough to support the parents. In fact, many Christians practice this method of “raising” their own children. It’s a system that seems to penetrate and affect several layers of Indian culture. Adoptions, therefore, rarely ever happen…especially in Southern India, and even more so in Tamil Nadu, the state I currently live in. More times than not, a registered Children’s Home will choose not to register with an adoption agency because most of the children in the home are not “true orphans,” Some, however, like Feba, Jessica, and Sheba, have no one waiting for them. There is no record of their parents and yet they are not eligible for adoption.
I have further learned that the Church in America is not slow to give above and beyond toward a dire need orphans have.
On June 10, 2014 I sent the following picture and message to my mom:
My parents’ hearts broke. And they shared the picture with their Bible studies, church friends, and other family members. My dad organized a race to raise money and awareness. Another friend organized a concession stand at her children’s soccer games to raise money. Once people heard of this need, they shared it with more people. I posted something on facebook and was overwhelmed with people’s desire to get involved. By December 4th, 42 beds were delivered to the home. Two days later, the mattresses arrived. Sheets and pillows were all that was left to purchase to complete this project. By December 9th, every bed had a girly sheet, a comfy pillow, and a matching pillow case. Even though this project was finished and completely funded, people still gave. We were able to put the extra money in a fund we labeled, “Projects” and are excited to help this home in other ways – like potentially building a boundary wall to ensure better protection or installing a fun playground by the school.
I have learned that, yes! children need much more than our money, but a giving heart communicates a lot more to a child in need.
For years, these girls have been praying for beds. When the beds arrived, they were not slow to give us the world’s greatest and biggest hugs as they proclaimed their thanks. It was a joy and an honor to say, “Stotrum!” Which means, “Praise the Lord!” As they unraveled their arms from around our waists and looked up to make eye contact, it was clear that they got it. They smiled and said, “Yeah! Stotrum!” People’s faithful and generous giving helped communicate that God heard their prayers!!
Here’s another example:
Christians across the world donated more than $4,000 toward this year’s Christmas at Daya Vihar Girl’s Home! We were able to purchase a washing machine and a keyboard for the home. Every single girl received several fun and personal gifts, including dolls, stuffed animals, jewelry making kits, beautiful clothes, and a stocking full of candy and fun girly things. Every staff member also received a Christmas gift. Of course, Christmas is not about the gifts. But a Christmas like this helped these girls hear loud and clear, “You are loved! Your childhood matters! And the Lord provides not only salvation, joy, and redemption, but also friends who want to provide fun things for you.”