One of my first memories is of my mom scooping me up and kissing me. I can’t remember what had upset me, but I can vividly picture running into her arms and having my tears kissed away. In years to come, she would be the one to stay up with me when I was sick, help me with my homework, and take me to ballet lessons and soccer games. I never considered what my life would be like without her.
And yet, the reality is that around the world, many children grow up without their mother. At Sarah’s Covenant Homes in India, 106 children with special needs face this reality. Each one came from a government orphanage, where they were abandoned due to their challenges. In the government orphanage many were neglected, bruised, malnourished and dying. They still do not know the touch of a mother’s hug, but at SCH they are loved and have become part of a different sort of family.
When I visited SCH last year, I was overwhelmed by the need. One little girl, April, particularly impacted my life. April is autistic, blind and has cerebral palsy. If anyone touched her, she would recoil, having spent so much time neglected, and being so fearful of the world.
April has since transformed into a happy little girl surrounded by people who love her. She no longer fears being held or hugged, and she is even taking her first steps with the aid of a walker. I wish April’s birth mother, who abandoned her, could see her now and know what an impact she’s had on my life.
Twenty-three new children have recently arrived at SCH from the government orphanage. Just like those before them, they have experienced heartache that we can’t imagine.
This is Emma. At 2.5kgs she appeared to have lost her will to live. Emma is gaining weight rapidly, and is scheduled for shunt surgery in the next month.
This is Honor. At the government orphanage, she wore a bandana over her eye, saying she didn’t want to “scare the children”. Honor now has the confidence to walk in her new home without hiding herself, and she, too, is scheduled for surgery in the next year.
Look into the eyes of your children. They are no different than April, Emma, Honor, or the others at SCH. These girls are just as beautiful, just as deserving but they don’t have a mother to kiss their tears away. We need to step up and be that mother for them.
Please visit http://sarahscovenanthomes.blogspot.com/ and learn more about the children. Consider donating below to support the costs of hiring “ayahs” (nannies) to care for the children, to feed them, keep them clean, and kiss their tears away.
Nikki Cochrane lives in Toronto and spends time each year travelling and volunteering, where she combines her passions for international development and advocating for children with special needs. She is returning to Sarah’s Covenant Homes in India for one month this summer, to be reunited with the amazing children who live there. You can read more about her work at her blog, www.onetinystarfish.blogspot.com