Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Place to Call Home ... Day 2

This is an update long overdue, and one of the things I am most grateful for this year.

One of the highlights of our trip to India in March was going back to our beloved Sarah and GS Nairs' city of Trivandrum, where we stayed with them in their home and Dad was a featured speaker at the graduation conference of the college there. 

I could hardly wait for the day that was set aside at the end of the conference for us to make the hour-plus trip to the Children's Home we had visited the previous year. Guests of the Tea House and Readers of the Leaves had risen to the Bunk Bed Challenge and in a very short time we had raised enough money for 50 beds for these kids who have so very little.

Debbie and Johnson, the Nairs' daughter and son-in-law, have taken a special interest in this home and they along with eldest son Jabez drove us out there along with some Americans and an Irish man who were at the conference too.

Our politician hopeful!
As we drove up, some of the boys came out to the balcony and waved us into the tiny compound. In short order we were offered fresh coconut water by the young boy who last year told us he wanted to become a politician in order to address the plight of the thousands of children in India like him.

Then Mr Dos and his family brought food for us. Mr Dos is the pastor of the church, and he and his wife took over the care of these children without hesitating when Dr Nair asked them to. Now their daughters also help with the younger kids, and they have befriended each other in a very real way.

The Dos family

However, who could think of food at a time like this?! Deb, Jabez and I had far more important work to do, and food was just holding us back! You see, on this trip we had thought we would like to bring out some stuffed animals for these kids. We had put the word out back home and once again you rose to the occasion. Before long we had enough stuffed toys for these kids and some others as well! Two people in particular need to be mentioned here: my friend Aoife had chosen the very first stuffies to be taken out; and my friend Marjorie, who comes to the Wednesday Bible study in the TH, really got behind this and came up with a full bag of toys waiting for a trip overseas.

Jabez and Deb started sorting the toys in the little room upstairs next to where the food was being served:
Then we could wait no longer so we grabbed the bag and Debbie, and the four of us went to see the kids.

Jabez, who is 9 years old, had a very definite idea of who should get what toy - and in almost every instance, he picked the exact right one for the person! For some of these children, this was the first toy of their very own they had ever had. The surprise and joy on their faces - from the eldest to the smallest among them - was something I will never forget. Everyone wanted one, even the biggest boys.

After we had given each boy a toy (and one for a boy who was away from the home at the time - they always look out for each other!), we went downstairs to see the girls. 

 However, just before we gave out any toys, they took our Deb in to see a girl who was sitting on her bed, in obvious discomfort. The girls had heard that Deb was a nurse and so they wanted her to see their friend, who had fallen and had injured her leg. She had been taken to the doctor; but it still hurt too much to bear much weight, so she was pretty much confined to her bed for a while. Deb sat down on her bed, talked to her and examined her leg.

Something you need to know about Deb is that she has the amazing talent of always, always, being able to understand and make herself understood, no matter where it is or with whatever age the person. Spoken language is but a minor trick up her sleeve when it comes to communication. Before long this girl was pouring out her worries to Deb. Deb opened her arms, pulled this scared, lonely teenager into them, and the girl put her head on Deb's shoulder and wept. I couldn't help but wonder when the last time was that this girl had experienced the comfort of a motherly embrace, the knowledge that she was special to someone, the sole focus of someone's attention and love. In a short time Deb had the tears dried and the girl feeling better enough to smile again. Jabez quietly brought her a "special" stuffie and then we went back to see the other girls and hand out their new treasures. 

Did you catch something small but significant in my recounting of the injured girl? I bet you did, William and David! That girl? The girl who hurt her leg? She was sitting on her bed!!!!!!!!!

After we gave out the toys to the girls they wanted us to go in and see their very own beds! Some of them wanted us to take their picture to show you, so here goes:

Dr Nair and Pastor Dos decided that it would be better to have some bunk beds and some single beds for kids who couldn't manage the top bunk, and also for smaller kids who will be brought to this children's home when the older kids here find jobs or get married and move out.

The girl in the yellow, eight pictures down, also proudly pointed out her calendar and a certificate of achievement that she had hung up next to her bed. For the first time since she had been rescued and brought to the home, she had a little place of her own to put up her things!

The boys didn't have any beds yet, but Johnson and Pastor Dos assured us that they were "almost ready"; and after our visit with the kids they took us to the carpenter's shop to see the progress:

 Here is the carpenter who has made all the beds, and these are the tools he has had to work with. His "shop" is the right hand side of the small area in front of his home.

On the left hand side of his house is a tiny slightly raised verandah, and this is where the carpenter's old father sits and passes his time.

Their front room was taken over by the beds for the children's home. This project gave our carpenter one year of work and he was able to support his family with this. 

Pastor Dos with the bed frames
Everything had been delayed somewhat by the monsoons, which flooded out this area. But the carpenter shop is just up the road from the Children's Home and arrangements were being made for the bed pieces to be walked from the carpenter's to the boys' floor, where they would be assembled in short order.

I've been wondering what we can do for these kids, some of whom have years stretched out before them at this home. Here are a couple of thoughts that have been mulling in my mind:

We still have some money left over for bedding and hopefully pillows.

Some of you have given some more money for any project we want to take on for these kids. I am wondering about gathering enough money to purchase small wooden bedside lockers for each kid so that they could finally take their meagre possessions out of the bags and suitcases where they are kept at present. This type of locker is used in schools throughout India - Dad and Mum got some made for us kids at home! - and they have a couple of shelves and a drawer in each.

Another thought is more for the long-term. One of these kids is already in a local "college", apprenticing for a trade. Some of those boys and girls are getting ready to leave high school, and I wonder if we could put some of this money toward getting them enrolled in job training of some sort. I keep thinking of the "politician," who himself is about 15 years old - perhaps if he is given a chance he truly may be the person to effect change for kids who are in danger of being absorbed into world of human trafficking?

I earnestly ask for your suggestions. We are hoping to go back and see them again in March 2013, so we have a few months to put together a plan!

As I close I will share with you one enormous gift that was given to me personally on this trip. The kids gathered in the chapel just before we were leaving. They love to sing and they wait eagerly for a word of encouragement, an acknowledgement that they are known and remembered.

They sang a song or two for us; and then, absent my father, who was unable to make the journey this time, or any other man who was able to step up with a brief word for these kids, I asked God for courage to speak. And suddenly there were Johnson and Debbie, Dr Nair's kids. Debbie had translated for me when I addressed the boys and girls separately in their dorms, explaining about where the toys had come from. Johnson now came along side of me and translated the few simple words I had to share with these precious children. I asked them if they remembered Dad's talk with them last year. They immediately pointed out the boy Dad had called up; the little guy, of course, was grinning from ear to ear ...

And as I finished speaking all I could think of was Dad and GS travelling all through this area of India, sleeping on the sides of roads, enduring heat and hardship and terrible food and primitive conditions, to preach and teach and minister together.  Now here Deb and I were with GS's and Sarah's eldest daughter, Debbie, ministering in a tiny way like our dads had done all those years earlier. I am almost hesitant to share this because what we did there was less than a speck compared to the work our fathers did to help people. And of course Debbie and Johnson are also giving their lives to work with these kids and at the College on a daily basis. 

But it was powerful and encouraging to me to think that we, their daughters, could have even a minuscule part in continuing on the work that has been of such help and blessing to so many people. For this I am truly grateful. 


  1. And the giving just continues and the effects felt around the world. What a blessing you are!

  2. I love how each one adds a bit of their own color to set their bed apart from the others. They're probably using the shawl they wear around their shoulders, but it's a blessing to see the joy and thankfulness in their countenance over something our kids take for granted. Looking forward to hearing your ideas for your next trip. Maybe the kids and I will have a special can that we start adding to. That way we're more prepared before your trip. Wish I could go with you:). My prayers travel though, so I'll have to be content with that for now. Thanks for sharing this! I was looking forward to seeing the kids and hearing an update on how they're doing now.

  3. Thank you for the update and inspiration. To see the beds - start to finish - is like a picture-book Bible story of a miracle!

  4. I'd be happy to donate for bedside stands. That would give the carpenter more work to be able to support his family. I also like the idea of helping someone get a trade. Oh my, pillows and cotton sheets would be good. This list goes on and on.


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