This was written in February 2014, and for whatever reason, I didn’t publish it. Thought I’d like to now, as a little background for i35.
During our second unplanned visit to Rafaelpuram, we were introduced to a priest, Father Michael.
Father Dhana had known Father Michael from seminary 35 years earlier.
As we sat in a circle, Father Michael described the children in the outlying villages or Rafaelpuram. We had met one of them. The 14 year old with Cerebral Palsy who cried when I touched her. There were more than 100 just like her who had no hope, no education center, who, even if asked, couldn’t even benefit by what we were offering to the “normal” children.
Just when I thought we had been reaching to the furthest depths, the bottom dropped. These children were below the low. The least of the least. The completely forgotten. The unseen.
Some children were lying on the ground unable to lift their heads. Some tied to posts for their own safety so mom could cook or clean. Not from neglect, but because mom needs to get things done for the rest of the family.
My own first reaction was to take these kids and put them in the LoveManifest Home and hire a Special Education teacher. Rescue. But from what? These weren’t orphaned children! They were loved and cherished children with mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Not once were we asked to take these children away from their families. Yet my natural reaction was this exactly.
What we were asked was, “who will care for my child when I’m gone?
The cry of every parent of a special child, and the very real answer is, nobody. Nobody will care for your child the way you do. Nobody.
Can you imagine? Me neither. Yet all of us sitting there were parents, there with our own children, and in some small way could identify with these desperate mothers.
“These mother’s are not looking for you to take their children. They love their children”, explained Father Michael.
He outlined a vision which included therapies for the children. Daily living skills. How to dress and feed themselves, and use a toilet. Music and dance therapy. Physical therapy, so if not paralyzed, they might be able to lift their heads, and stand.
If capable of learning one letter per week, in 18 months, a child would be able to use a keyboard. For some, just to be able to move their arm in an up and down motion would be a huge victory, and would allow them dip a wick into wax and be part of a candle making process. All of these things working toward independence and participation in a life where there seemed to be no hope.
Seemed to be.
As we listened to Father Michael, it was as though the sounds of the outside world were silenced. Amongst our group were people of a variety of faiths, and stages of belief. From the sold out to the skeptic. Yet there we were. Every one of us. Together. Saturated in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know who it was breaking the silence, but whoever it was, I believe it’s why they were there.
“Why isn’t the church backing your program”?
Father Michael’s answer will stay with me as long as I live as a reminder of Who we serve.
“Because they are Hindu children.”
I don’t really know what happened after that, other than to say, it was on. A fire inside my soul for the discarded children all others had passed by.