Disorientated from my twenty hour trip to a children’s home India, I stumbled out of the car. It was well past midnight so naturally I did not expect to witness what followed. I walked down the driveway of the compound and was greeted by dozens of young, glowing faces. Rather than waiting until morning, these children, some as young as two years old, stood in front of the school eagerly awaiting my arrival. I felt that I did not deserve such a welcome but gratefully smiled and took it all in.
Then I saw her. Preethi. A young girl, no more than fourteen. She timidly approached me, placed a string of fresh flowers around my neck and said, “welcome, akka,” (akka means sister in Telugu). It all seemed so surreal, the joy, the excitement and the anticipation.
My time teaching at the Indian school was both rewarding and challenging. The children woke up at five in the morning each day and met me in the courtyard. They would stand in two straight lines as I led them in several inspirational songs while the sun rose in the distance. Then, they would immediately begin their chores. Some of the young ladies prepared the fire in the outdoor firepit since the kitchen had no oven. Several boys would go out into the field and milk the water buffalo. While waiting for breakfast, the younger children would sweep and clean the stairways from their bunkhouses down to the courtyard. The most surprising job that I witnessed was performed by two young girls, Preethi included. These two girls would have to collect a bucketful of water buffalo manure, mix it with water, and pour over the dirt paths that the children walked on daily throughout the compound. These paths would get dusty so they would pour this mixture on them to keep the dust to a minimum. One important thing to note here is, the children were always barefoot. Always. Even when we traveled outside the compound in temperatures reaching over one hundred and fifteen degrees fahrenheit. Needless to say, even though their living conditions were unlike anything I had ever seen before, they were merely thankful to have a place to call home. The compound was where they lived, ate and received their education. Some were orphans, others were children whose parents simply could not afford to care for them anymore.
Teaching the children English in the morning was rewarding but our afternoon art class is what I enjoyed the most. Of course, one student stood out above the rest. Not only was Preethi engaged and intrigued by the art classes, she was lighthearted and fun to be around. Life in that place was difficult for a young girl and art seemed to be an escape for her. Years after I left, I found out that Preethi had fallen in love with art during those few short months of the art classes I held. She had graduated from the school there and was moving on to study art. My hope for every young girl in that school was that they would find hope in a hopeless situation and find direction for their lives in a world full of confusion. Knowing that Preethi found her place encourages me to keep on pouring in the lives of young girls everywhere I go, whether it be my own daughter, her friends or even that new mom I met at the library.
And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did to me.” – Matthew 25:40
When we sacrifice our time, our hearts and our lives for our children as we homeschool, we truly are in obedience to the Word of God, serving the little ones in the kingdom. Whether you are influencing the life of a child on the other side of the world, in your neighborhood or in your own home, do it will everything you have and you truly will see a reward!
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