So much has happened here in Chennai in such a short period of time! Let me rewind to the place where I last left off, after we’d just finished being Indian models for an evening.
After our performance high ;), we woke up the next morning just in time to accompany our 2 Canadian men’s teams, an American team, and 1 player from Great Britain to a local orphanage. We loaded the taxis with all sorts of fruit, candies, drinks and some sports equipment and set off on a 45min or so drive to the orphanage. One of the big differences here has been the amount of debris, garbage, stray dogs and people scattered in the streets. We drive through areas that are quite pristine (usually a government building, the police headquarters or a hotel), but right next store to that there will be a pile of rubble and garbage and homeless people sleeping in the street or in their tuck-tucks. It’s such an obvious contrast, an oxymoron of classes so to speak. As we left the downtown core of Chennai, the level of poverty and amount of garbage increased dramatically, and the area around the orphanage was extremely impoverished. However, I was very pleased to see that the orphanage was itself a cute, very clean little building that surprisingly housed about 25 children.
The creator of the orphanage, a beautiful little man glowing with love, explained that he was inspired to build the orphanage when a young girl he knew lost her parents and was forced to sell drugs on behalf of her aunt in order to have a place to live. He saw that this girl whom he loved did not receive love from her aunt, and so feared that without the love a viscous cycle would start in which she turned to the drugs or even prostitution in her search for love. He believed that if this girl were given shelter, food and above all else an abundance of love, she would turn out ok. And, so the orphanage was started, and now holds boys and girls of different ages and backgrounds, all of whom were beautiful, respectful and loving kids. The creator explained that some kids were delivered to him by the police after they were found abandoned at only a few days of age, others were left parentless after the tsunami, or because their parents died of age and some others were the children of drug addicts. All of them were given equal love and opportunity by this beautiful man and his staff. (For more information please visit www.campassionchildrenhome.org).
We entered the orphanage to meet the children, who were all seated in their small common room which was brimming with excitement. The kids sat there as we introduced ourselves (a lot of them know basic english, with the oldest kids being able to communicate simply as they all attend the local public school where english is taught). After each person had said his/her name and where he/she is from, the kids would say ‘Hello‘ in unison with their cute little indian accents. It was just too cute (video to be posted soon, click here to check it out) They then proceeded to each stand up and say their names and my heart just melted. Of course, we echoed back ‘Hello’ to each one of them after they had introduced themselves. We then headed out to a local vacant lot of about 12 feet by 12 feet (these kids do not have a playground of their own) to play some soccer/volleyball/cricket/catch. The kids had so much fun, and so did all of us. I felt so utterly grateful for all I have been given in my life, and was so happy if only for 1 morning to give some of that back to these kids who have so little. On the way back, all the kids took our hands, so that all you could see was these tall westerners being led back to the orphanage by these beautiful little kids. When we returned, the kids disappeared to do whatever they do, but the owners put out all sorts of drinks and treats and cakes for us - much of it was what we had brought for them!!! This gentleman had definitely learned the lesson that you have to give in order to receive, as he continues to find funding for the orphanage and continues to give of himself as well. Despite having so little, I swear I have never met a happier and a more positively radiant man in my life, brimming with love. What a great gift of awareness he gave me, and what a great gift of gratitude did the children give me. Wow!