FAMILY where hope is alive

Yogendra’s hands reach out for a wall he knows is there, right in front of him…another step… and yes, his hands touch the cool plaster that is so familiar to him. Five more steps and he should feel the warm sunlight on his hands coming through a doorway that will take him downstairs to the bathroom he shares with 92 other blind or deaf orphans.

Sunita, a teacher at an orphanage for the deaf and blind, ladles dal over the children's rice.

In just a few minutes this same room will be lined with children, sitting on the floor, waiting quietly and patiently for the teachers and workers to ladle heaping mounds of rice, dal and vegetables into shiny silver trays in front of each one, smell being the only collective sense that signals the coming food. Like Yogendra, some of these children are blind, but not deaf. Others are deaf, but not blind.

A class of deaf children takes a break from book studies with stretching exercises. The children are part of an orphanage for blind and deaf in Central India.
Rashmi teaches a class of deaf children at a children's home for the deaf and blind in India.
Two blind children at an orphanage for the blind and deaf study braille.

An abundant supply of food was not always a sure thing. Just over three years ago the state government, without warning or reason, informed the founder of the school and orphanage, Pastor Manohar Nanda, that it would no longer give any support toward the children’s schooling or care. Without that support, Nanda and his fellow teachers could not maintain the home on their own. They feared the inevitable outcome for the children would be a return to a life of begging, a hardscrabble life of danger and insecurity. Think Slum Dog Millionaire street life.

Central India Christian Mission became aware of the children’s plight and decided to help. The school and home are still crowded, but CICM has been able to supply food, teachers’ salaries and other support for the children. Pastor Nanda says his goal is to find a home for the other 2,500 estimated blind or deaf children living in his area, “…due to the lack of accommodation and resources, I can not bring them here. But this is really my vision…that I can support all of these children.”

Naithram, 14, one of the deaf children at the home, uses his hands to sign, “I used to roam about here and there in the streets. When I came here I started learning.” This opportunity has given him, not only hope, but the skills to launch his future. “When I grow up I will become a teacher and return to teach the children in this school.”

Call to Action: CICM is raising funds to buy land away from the city to build a larger home to accommodate more children. If you would like to help, contact CICM HERE.

All photographs ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman www.garyschapman.com

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Gary S. Chapman
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