Monday, May 19, 2008

The Power of a Dream

Neeta Goel, Program Director for Children International, shared these thoughts with us about a recent visit she paid to sponsored families in India. We though you’d enjoy her reflections.

Several mothers left their chores to come chat with me excitedly, and question why I have been missing so long. It was the area’s worst summer day so far – the temperature touched 43 degrees centigrade (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and as the tin roofs of the homes blazed, I wondered how the families can even survive. Small wonder all kids are down with diarrhea, and are throwing up constantly almost.

The center was cool, since it is made of cement and bricks, and not tin or aluminum. The kids came running in and for the few moments that we had electricity, the fan made the heat a little bearable. One mother spoke to me about her 6 kids – 4 are in school, with younger and older siblings united in the same grade, due to late starts for some. The mother tells me that it is her dream to see that her children don’t stay uneducated and disadvantaged like her. She has several daughters, and wants them all to study, contrary to what her community thinks. She confides that this dream creates problems for her with her extended family, but that she can’t seem to give up.

While I speak to her, in front of us, I watch this other mother and her four-month-old baby. We are providing food for this baby, and yet his arms and legs are little more than sticks. He keeps screwing up his face as though he wants to cry, but can’t seem to find the energy to do so.

The mother smiles shyly at me when I ask what else we can do to make sure her baby is healthy. “Nothing,” she says. “You all have done enough.” She explains her husband sends her some money once in a while, but it is never enough. She wants to work, but her kids are too small. I look at her and see this exhausted young girl with four kids, struggling to come to terms with being a mother, when she is hardly over being a teenager herself.

We sit in silence for a while, as I watch the four kids arrange themselves around her and fall asleep in the heat, each one making sure at least one little hand touches her, almost to reassure themselves that their mother will not suddenly disappear while they are asleep.

I am broken from my reverie when she suddenly she says with uncharacteristic force, “I really want to do something for my children. I want them to grow up and be independent.”

Just for a second the fatigued expression changes, and I see a determined young woman emerge.

Dreams – how powerful they can be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article! I echo the sentiments of those Indian mothers. This is why I sponsor 2 little girls in India and hope that maybe someday I might be fortunate enough to afford to sponsor more girls there.