One thing that we learned about Kolkata was that the name Kolkata comes from the Hindu goddess Kali and the original name for Koklata was Kalikshetra, meaning the place of Kali. Kali is the goddess of death and destruction. So we never really wondered why this place was so heavy, emotionally, physically, and spiritually because it was named after death and destruction for goodness sakes. With that being said it was very easy to see death and destruction when you looked around and it was simply overwhelming to bare most of the time but on day 3 we saw hope right in the middle of this city of death and destruction and that hope came in the form of some of the most beautiful children you could ever imagine.
Monday, October 17th
Monday started out with us going to Western union to exchange our money, and that story I will share another time, lol. Next we went to a very nice outdoor market where it was not crowded whatsoever. We had tea and ate at small cafe in the market and did some shopping. It was extremely nice and relaxing. Next we took an hour long bus ride which took us out of the city into the country (which up until that point I didn't realize they had) to the most beautiful childrens home. When we arrived there the silence was almost deafening in comparison to the city. The air was clean and I think we all took a huge breath of the clean air. There was green grass and so much SPACE! We walked down the gravel driveway around a random cow and up to this beautiful home. When we entered the gate we were greated by the home's mom and dad who are a married couple who live there permanently. They were the sweetest people, they were so excited for us to be there, they told us that the kids had prepared a performance and we would be the first people they have ever done it for! They also told us that they kids all got brand new outfit in anticipation for our visit. The dad gave us a tour of their home, the boys and girls rooms, their room, and the roof top area which is where I took some of the pictures below. In addition to the house mom and dad there are two other women who live at the home permanently. Out of respect to the children I am not going to share the specifics of their situations but basically these children are taken out of a life which is filled with drugs, abuse, and little to no food and they are brought to this home out in the country to live until they are adults. Their parents can call as well as come visit once a month and the parents have given them to this home willfully. They recieve an eduction, food, love and a safe and loving home. So after a quick tour we went to meet the children. When we walked into the room they were all standing their in the sparkling new clothes with the biggest smiles you have ever seen. They were so proud and held their heads high. They all said "HELLO" with their thick accents when we walked in the room. We took lots of pictures of them and then they started their performance. It was just precious, they recited bible versus and sang songs. Then, each of them stood up and told us their name, age, and some of their favorite things. The children ranged from 4-12. The 9 of us all stood up as well and told them our names, age, and favorite things. After their performace we went out to the courtyard where they had prepared a pinic snack. We served all the kids first and then ate with them. They all wanted their pictures taken and were are bunch of hams. After we were done eating we presented them each with a backpack that had a handmade blanket courtesy of Pam and her amazing team of women back here at home, a tooth brush and tooth paste and a little McDonalds toy. You would have thought it was Christmas, they were all so excited. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of all the blankets that sit folded in my kids closets that they use when the one they are currently using has to get washed and don't think anything of it. To these kids their very own blanket and tooth brush was a true gift, it was something of their very own. Each one was different and we asked if we should put their names on them and the hosue dad said "no I am sure they will remember which one belongs to who" with a smile. This home was such a place of love and happiness. I did not feel sorry for these kids, they were so incredibly loved and taken care of. The house mom and dad loved them unconditionally as if they were their own biologically children. After we hugged and kissed them good bye and all of us women shed a lot of tears we got back on the bus to return home.
As our group talked that night we were all so moved by the hope that the childrens home brought. How in the middle of this city, with all the poverty, dirt, trash, immorality, false idols, curruption and lust there is such an imense sense of hope and that the hope comes from these chidren. We all strongly felt that these children will be the ones to change their city and we felt honored to have been able to meet and spend time with them. Matthew 19:14 come to mind when I think of them "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."
Oh how God must look down on these precious children and smile at his creation. They have the heart of Jesus and you could it in their eyes.