Stepping back from our daily tasks at Ama Ghar, I keep thinking about the lives of the children (and of the staff). One of the girls told me that Bonnie was her equivalent of grandmother, mother, and aunt; she also calls me “Granny,” which I find delightful , enjoying the connection and affection that she offers me.
But I find myself getting uncommonly teary, overwhelmed both by the immensity of the need and also by the courage and selflessness of those who have devoted their lives to mitigate suffering, even if (perhaps especially when) it seems like they are just putting one finger in the dam to hold back a raging torrent of angry flood waters. Bonnie and Shrawan are just two in the phalanx of big-hearted and selfless people who give everything they have and are for those with less. I am truly humbled.
But I’m also horrified. Within a quarter mile of Ama Ghar, there are a dozen other children’s homes, each with 25-100 orphaned children. The war between the government and the Maoists is the primary cause, but so also are the roads, the disease, the child abuse. Some girls come after being freed from Indian brothels, where they are prized for their uncommon beauty. The cholera and malaria that orphaned Nepalese children of my generation has been upstaged by HIV and AIDS.
Growing up in an orphanage several decades ago, Shrawan’s hope is to share the dream of a better life with those who are orphaned now. Carla’s mother was an orphan and Carla herself was in foster care for a brief period (when both her parents were ill). Now she wants to share her love with children who live across the border from her San Diego church. She tells me that there are ten million orphaned children in Mexico. Ten million! How could this be happening?
The suffering, the stupidity, and the exploitation seem so enormous that I wonder if our world can exist much longer. How many more villages will dissolve into the sea before we get a grip on global warming? How many more orphans will grow up violent and hopeless, believing that victimization and abuse are the way of the world?
I don’t know. There are days when it all seems so hopeless.
But then I think of Bonnie, Shrawan, Carla, David Brown and the other folks from Wayfarer’s Chapel – and I think of the saints who have “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
And so we party!
BELOW: The first photo is the whole group, with Shrawan in the Buddha shirt on the right.
BELOW LEFT: Mangal played the comb (right)
BELOW RIGHT: Srijana enjoys her special seat on the lap of AuntieBonnie.
BELOW: Carla, Santosh, and Fran
BELOW: Brian (another volunteer at Ama Ghar, but not part of our group), Srijana, Tina, and Carla: