~ A post from Rich Aguilar (Contributor)
During my last travels to Kolkata, India I saw something that would change my life forever. During the weeks leading up to my trip to India I informed and prepared as much as I could for the adverse conditions I was going to see. For weeks I studied imagery and videos to get a handle on the plight and desperation of the people of India. Documentary after documentary I watched these sweet people suffer famine, extreme poverty, malnutrition, sickness and tremendous crime. I did the best I could to mentally and spiritually prepare my heart for what I was going to experience thousands of miles away. But nothing would have been able to prepare my state of mind for what I witnessed first hand as I touched down in Kolkata, India.
As we left the airport and rode the cab to the train we were supposed to catch I saw something that I will not be able to un-see. We all have those experiences in life when we see something so profound or traumatic that we will never forget them no matter how many years go by or how hard we try. As we were passing through the busy streets of Kolkata I saw there in the middle of the road a woman laying down. As we got closer to passing by her I was able to notice that she wasn't by herself. By her side was a small child. We were moving so slow I was able to get a ten second window into this young mother's life. Mom had a look of despair, her child was crying uncontrollably. It became apparent that the child was very hungry. The little baby girl was reaching for her baby bottle that had nothing but water. Mom didn't look like she had any strength. She mustard up any amount of strength she had and grabbed that bottle and gave it to her child.
In this moment I was able to see the hopelessness in the mother's eyes. Mom looked very malnourished, her child was no better, if anything much worse off. When mom gave her baby that bottle I was able to see everything she was saying without her even saying one word. I've never witnessed hopelessness like that before, let alone experienced it. I've never been in a place in my life where I didn't think I could climb my way out or thought it wouldn't work out. I've always been the optimist and the hopeful one. When I saw a mother giving her crying baby girl a bottle full of water, I was able to see a mother that was trying to cherish her last precious moments together as painless as possible. She knew that they both didn't have much time. Their lives were probably coming to a close as mom wasn't able to work, produce milk or do anything that would better their situation. And as my cab drove past her and her baby girl my heart felt a pain it had never felt before.
What do you do with that? How do you process that deep raw human emotion? My heart literally ached, my eyes and soul were crying out! My heart was bursting with anger and rage at how two precious people, a mother and a baby girl were so easily dismissed as trash on the street. Not one of her fellow countrymen stopped to help her with her child. Not one of the hundreds of people that walked by her that day gave her one morsel of food. She was abandoned and left to die with her precious baby girl alone in the middle of the street. I'm not going to pretend that it didn't effect me, it did in the worst way. The only thing I knew to do was to confine my emotions and turn them into silence. So, for the rest of the car ride which lasted another 45 minutes all I could do was sit and be mute.
I wish I could tell you that this was a rare occurrence in India, but I would be lying. This is a very common situation. Millions of men, women and children go homeless and starve every year. What I witnessed was much worse than any homeless epidemic in America I have seen. Literally millions of people live like this, in the street, poor, with children, unable to provide for their families. It was as heartbreaking as heartbreak could get. This encounter with true humanity is the reason OpportunityHope exists. Our desire and HOPE is to come to the aid of individuals who are looking for hope.
We've built an orphanage for at risk children. We sponsor local community projects such as the building of wells and other self sustaining projects. All of this is done with a hope that we are making an impact in someones life, so that one mom or dad doesn't have to raise their child in the middle of the street. Would you be willing to support? Are you asking yourself right now how you could help so that a family can stay together? Perhaps you're wanting to help a child gain a future that they desperately need? If so, we could use your support. We have many avenues where you can help make an impact. If you would like to get involved and help change the lives of these precious families in India you can do so here.