India: Family-Where Hope is Alive

Yogendra’s hands reach out for a wall he knows is there.

Yogendra’s hands reach out for a doorway.

A class of deaf children takes a break from book studies with stretching exercises.

A class of deaf children takes a break from book studies with stretching exercises.

An older blind child leads a younger blind student to her class.

An older blind child leads a younger blind student to her class.

Naithram, 14, one of the deaf children at the home, uses his hands to sign.

Naithram, 14, one of the deaf children at the home, uses his hands to sign.

Sunita, a teacher at the home, ladles dal over the children's rice.

Sunita, a teacher at the home, ladles dal over the children’s rice.

Two blind children work on studying braille.

Two blind children work on studying braille.

Meena, 5 and a half years old, sings a song. Meena is blind.

Meena, 5 and a half years old, sings a song. Meena is blind.

Yogendra’s hands reach out for a wall he knows is there, right in front of him…another step… and yes, his hands touch the cool plaster that is so familiar to him. Five more steps and he should feel the warm sunlight on his hands coming through a doorway that will take him downstairs to the bathroom he shares with 92 other blind or deaf orphans.

In just a few minutes this same room will be lined with children, sitting on the floor, waiting quietly and patiently for the teachers and workers to ladle heaping mounds of rice, dal and vegetables into shiny silver trays in front of each one, smell being the only collective sense that signals the coming food. Like Yogendra, some of these children are blind, but not deaf. Others are deaf, but not blind.

An abundant supply of food was not always a sure thing. Just over three years ago the state government, without warning or reason, informed the founder of the school and orphanage, Pastor Manohar Nanda, that it would no longer give any support toward the children’s schooling or care. Without that support, Nanda and his fellow teachers could not maintain the home on their own. They feared the inevitable outcome for the children would be a return to a life of begging, a hardscrabble life of danger and insecurity. Think Slum Dog Millionaire street life.

Central India Christian Mission became aware of the children’s plight and decided to help. The school and home are still crowded, but CICM has been able to supply food, teachers’ salaries and other support for the children. Pastor Nanda says his goal is to find a home for the other 2,500 estimated blind or deaf children living in his area, “…due to the lack of accommodation and resources, I can not bring them here. But this is really my vision…that I can support all of these children.”

Naithram, 14, one of the deaf children at the home, uses his hands to sign, “I used to roam about here and there in the streets. When I came here I started learning.” This opportunity has given him, not only hope, but the skills to launch his future. “When I grow up I will become a teacher and return to teach the children in this school.”

Call to Action: CICM is raising funds to buy land away from the city to build a larger home to accommodate more children. If you would like to help, contact CICM HERE.

All photographs ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman

Technical:

(Nikon D4, 24-70mm f2.8 @24mm, 1/500 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200)

(Nikon D4, 24-70mm f2.8 @24mm, 160 sec, f4, ISO 3200)

(Nikon D4, 24-70mm f2.8 @29mm, 1/400 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200)

(Nikon D4, 24-70mm f2.8 @24mm, 1/250 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200)

(Nikon D4, 24-70mm f2.8 @24mm, 1/125 sec, f5.6, ISO 3200)

(Nikon D4, 35mm f1.4, 1/125 sec, 1.4, ISO 3200)

(Nikon D4, 24-70mm f2.8 @24mm, 1/100 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200)

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