Helping Hands from the Global Village
I had the pleasure of meeting Major General Basant Kumar Mohapatra when I was in India in both 2005 and 2007. The Major is otherwise known as Aja, which means grandfather in Hindi. Aja was retired after forty years of service in the Indian armed forces. Our group of volunteers enjoyed a lovely and delicious brunch at Aja’s home.
Aja was one of the most peaceful people I had ever met; the feeling inside his house was one of quiet and contemplation. I loved listening to his simple, but wise, philosophies for living. “True wealth lies not in wanting more,” Aja said, “but in needing less.”
Later, as we ate, someone commented to Aja about how happy and giving the children were with us. Aja responded, “It is because they know you come without any self-interest. You come only with love. This is the most important thing. Skin doesn’t matter, color doesn’t matter; only the heart matters. You come to share joy with them – and also sadness, if it is there.” He looked around the table at all of us and then he beamed. “You see, the world has become a global village.”
It is true. Through this blog, incredible people from all over the world have contacted me; people who are also touched by these children and their stories, and who are interested in joining the effort to uphold their inherent right to the most simple of all things: a childhood.
Here are just a few of the people who have contacted me in the last month, and the paths they are on which have converged with mine, even from another part of the globe:
Nechama Goldstein is an independent documentary director from Israel. He lived and worked with the boys in the CCD home in Calcutta for several months – I featured their story here. There he conducted a film workshop for these young, aspiring filmmakers. Today, with the gracious help of Swapan Mukherjee of CCD, Nechama is currently making a feature documentary about child slavery, called “Lost and Found.” Nechama says, “It really moves me to meet people who are fighting for the awareness of this cause; we should find a way to make a bigger impact together!”
Nancy Quin is an artist in New York. She and her husband are headed to Delhi in February 2008, and are interested in conducting an art program with children living in orphanages while they are there. Her idea is to conduct both an art school in which the children can create their own individual works of art, as well as an art exchange with children in the U.S. Later, in August 2008, there will be an exhibit in New York which will feature this artwork. She has done a similar program in Africa, and the exhibit from that raised awareness for the nonprofit organizations and money which was sent back to Africa for the programs. Nancy says, “My hope is to connect children of the world through visual art, while bringing art into the lives of children who do not have the means to create it.” –Contact Nancy via Email–
Jessica Whittenbury, an Australian who works for Virgin Blue Airlines in her home country, is traveling to India with her sister Kate in January 2008. There, they plan to visit the Little Hearts home run by C.P. Kumar, which I visited for several days last March. I wrote a story about it here. There they will play with the children, providing a much-needed respite from their daily lives, and help C.P. with volunteer work that might need to be done.
When it comes to talking about people who are helping, I cannot fail to include my own family. They have all supported me throughout my work in India, and the writing of this book over the past year. My mother, Sandra, and my grandparents, E.F. and Shirley, have both made monetary contributions to several organizations with which I have worked. Thanks to all of you, and I love you!
If you’d like more information about the needs and how you might get involved in ensuring the rights of exploited or impoverished children in India, please contact me.