indelible footprints

a few months back, i heard someone say,

"you'll find as you're changing the world, you're changing yourself."

i did not come to india to change the world, nor do i pretend to think that i have any impact on the entire world. i realize that i am small and a mere simple girl with little to no reach. as a matter of fact, the more i travel, the smaller i feel. the more i realize how much there is that exists on this earth, and how many individual lives with individual heartbeats and breaths surround us.

the first few days the volunteers are here (they finally got here on thursday!!), my co-director and i have some great "exposure visits" planned with each organization we've worked with in the past. this includes seeing HIV/AIDS clinics, slums, leprosy colonies, "bridge schools," gardening projects, and meeting indigenous people of india who may be displaced due to a dam(n) dam being built. needless to say, i have had and will have some incredible experiences in the next/last 10 days.

the first of these which took place on thursday. it was the day our volunteers got into town (at 3am nonetheless), so we wanted to start off with something simple. turns out, i can't stop thinking about it, and probably never will. one of the organizations we work with, MV Foundation, runs what is called a "bridge camp." there are millions of child laborers here in india--both those born into it, sold into it, and taken into it. the child laborers cover everything from the stuff you buy at walmart, to sex slavery, to precious pearls and gold. sometimes, if a child has the opportunity, they can escape the life in which they are enslaved because of different reasons. however positive this is, it is also a bad thing because once they leave, they are often left with no family, no means for food or housing, and certainly no opportunity to marry with no dowry or family to present them. without these things, the public schools wont accept them (even though the government "regulates" that everyone is to be accepted), and these children not only fall behind the people their age, but have no chance of catching up and eventually go back to their old livelihoods and lifestyles.

what a bridge school does, then, is bridge the gap between what they missed through not being in school, and create opportunities for education for boys and girls. on top of that, they give them somewhere to live, family, job skills, social skills, and an address so they can apply for school.

we had the opportunity to visit one such school here in the outskirts of Hyderabad, and i will never forget it. we only got to go into one classroom, but these girls gave me so much strength and have left indelible footprints on my heart. i will never forget their faces, the hope, and the enthusiasm in which they spoke, listened, learned, and sang. these girls were so proud of the body parts they learned in english. they were so proud of the pronouns, the math, their little chalk boards in which they wrote all of their assignments, and they had every right to be proud. they had every right to be beaming, because they had an opportunity, actually a human right, all of a sudden granted: education, and freedom.

before we left, they wanted to sing a song for us. i will leave you with that. to see pictures from the experience, you can see my fb pictures here. the song they sang is in telugu, the national language in AP (the state). they talk about how no one will ever take their freedom from them. they proclaim and shout that they have the right to learn and to become whatever they desire to become (most want to be educators, doctors, and engineers). they talk about how they are the future generation. i was very emotional as i heard them sing with vigor, with nothing but pure determination on their smiling faces.

ps. read our team country blog here


anitamombanita said...

You are one amazing young woman and while you might doubt the impact you are having, I'm certain it is far reaching. Reminds me of a story told in sacrament meeting yesterday about a young missionary who had but one single baptism in his 2 years in the mission field, and so he counted his mission a failure. After researching what had happened to the one single convert, it turned out the in two generations over a thousand people's lives had been dramatically changed because of the impact of that one missionary. I know this is not missionary work, but nonetheless, it's life changing work. If you help one person change their life for the better, you might be helping thousands. Love you.

RobinfromCA said...

I second what Anita said. You are having an impact you will probably never realize. Every time you serve those girls or just smile your beautiful smile you are writing it on their hearts just as they are doing to you.

Ray has a similar mission story. In his entire two years in Spain they didn't have one baptism. However, years later when he returned he met a family he brought the gospel to. Turns out this family did get baptized and the father went on to be the very first bishop in Barcelona and a member of the very first Stake Presidency. When Ray walked into church on his first visit back they recognized him immediately and their daughter was still carrying around a picture of him with their family in her wallet. It was about 15 years after he served there.

You're doing a great thing and you're teaching all of us as well! Now, don't let your head get too big! ;-)
Sending you lots of love and prayers!

Lalis said...

I think that so many of us take for granted what we have in the developed world... To the point that we start complaining about what we don't need to complain about.

Maybe if we experienced what you are experiencing right now our mindsets would be so different. We would turn to the Lord more, and perhaps be more obedient? I don't know. I think the hearts and spirits of these people are beautiful, to a point pure, simply because of their circumstances. There is so much we can learn from them, and everywhere that hasn't been corrupted.

Thanks for sharing this!