Stories

If you are a person who loves stories, which I am, going to an orphanage is like going to the mother-lode.  Every child there has a story. They are sharing those stories all the time, whether you are wandering around a mustard field, or going shopping (where there was a cow in a store) or looking at mango trees and gravestones, or sitting around a fire. One of my favorite things to do was to sit at a bench and watch the kids play badminton, and invariably some cherub would wander over, sit next to me, and begin to tell me a story.  One afternoon I went into the dormitory where Rosey and her friends live and they showed me their books of pictures. These kids don’t have many possessions in their lives, but they have pictures of people who mean something to them and every single child there has one of those albums. (When I went home, I sent them a box full of pictures, which said Fedex box is still stuck somewhere outside Delhi. That is another story.) Most of the stories are somewhat harrowing, as you might imagine, and sometimes the children are sad, but for the most part they are happy and energetic and vibrant and all good things. Partly, I suspect, this is because they are young and resilient. But I have to give a lot of credit to the people who run this orphanage. I’d been communicating with the people at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission for more than 3 years, and reading their newsletters, and I felt I had a good sense of who they were. But I’m old enough (and have read enough Charles Dickens) to know that good people are not always good, and religious people do not always act the way they should. However, from the moment I arrived on the mission, I was struck by the love and kindness with which each child there was treated. There were more than 100 children, which makes for a large family, and yet it felt like a family. You could just see the trust in the children’s eyes. When I left the orphanage, to head back to Delhi and then to home, I had the true sense of having left a part of my heart there. But the stories will stay with me forever.  

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