Today I'm reposting a blog I wrote for The Sound of Hope. This is a new project in India that we are really excited about - and we've got over half of the funds raised already! We'd like to finish fundraising for this before Christmas, but we need your help. If you're looking for a gift for a teacher in your life, donating to this project in their honor would truly be a gift that keeps giving!
Here in India, we've found that there are 3 main areas that the children at our homes are rescued from - the Red Light District, Leper Colonies, and the Slums. We've visited all three of these areas during this trip, but our visit to Chauma Slum was definitely the most overwhelming.
After a short drive from the Children's Home, we arrived at what appeared to be an empty trash heap. But as we peered inside the open huts made of leftover plastic and cardboard, children began to arrive out of nowhere. Within a few moments, we were surrounded by filthy, beautiful, pathetic, precious little boys and girls.
They were covered in dirt and sores. Snot dripped from their noses and their matted hair looked like it had never been washed or brushed. Their clothes were trash - torn, worn peices that other people had thrown away. And as they ran to us, Babu (our Indian partner) explained that any food they got was also from the trash - leftovers or spoiled items their parents found while trashpicking.
I looked deep into their eyes and it was more than I could take. I felt hot tears well up inside, but for their sake, I fought them back. They didn't need my pity - what they needed was love and attention!
After some hugs and kisses, a song, and some candy, I brought out my camera. They posed like they were little models - hamming it up and pushing themselves in front of my lens. "Auntie, Auntie! Take me!" they shouted as my shutter snapped. They all wanted to see their photos, and have pictures made with their siblings.
For about an hour, I lost myself with them. I took pictures while they fought for my attention. I held their grubby hands and patted their sweet little heads. We laughed and played together. I pushed them around on their only "toy" - a trashpicker's cart some adult had left behind. It was in the middle of this "game" that I was forced back to reality.
"Ericka - watch out! That is human poop you are stepping in! It's everywhere!" Babu shouted.
I shrugged it off and kept playing - but it hit home for me. These children are living and playing in trash and human feces EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES. Their parents abandon them during the day so that they can go and search through the trash heaps around town for food or recyclables - anything useful. This is the only source of income for these families. The children here are destined to live out the same fate... UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING.
I know we can't rescue all these children. The 3 homes we support in India are already overflowing with too many kids and not enough space. But leaving these little ones behind without doing anything for them was too much to bear. We don't want to just be spectators in these countries- we want to RESPOND when we see a need!
It turns out that Sharma, the house dad for Asha Mission, has been wanting to plant a school here for over 6 months. We eagerly asked what we could do to help. Babu explained that all they really need is funding, and the small amount it will take to run this school for a YEAR will shock you! Watch this video to hear more...
Just $1,600 will fund a school in the Chauma Slum for 1 year. That's $200 to rent a plot of land, $175 to build a basic structure, and $35 per child to cover their school supplies. The school will be small and very basic, but if we can even teach these children to READ, then their lives could be changed FOREVER!
You see, for a forgotten child like this little girl, EDUCATION = HOPE.
So please, help us plant HOPE in a trash heap. You never know the possibilities that could grow out of this garbage!