This past February my fiancé Jeff Smith and I had the most wonderful opportunity to visit our sponsored child Kushi (her name means happiness in Hindi) on a trip to Delhi, India.
The story goes as follows … I am a Canadian born Hindu Indian and my fiancé is a Christian Canadian and, while I grew up traveling to my homeland and learning the language as a child, this was Jeff’s first time to the incredible and diverse country. We traveled throughout India for the month, got to visit many places and meet many people, and ended our trip with a week stay at my father’s family’s house in old Delhi.
Our visit to the SOS Children’s Village was one of the most memorable and enlightening experiences of that trip.
Kushi is a little girl who was sponsored by Jeff’s parents as a way of welcoming my heritage into their family. When we found out that the SOS Village was open to visitors we knew of course that we would go and meet Kushi.
We knew very little of the SOS Children's Village or of Kushi’s background when we arrived, but by the end of the day, felt very much a part of the SOS family. Kushi is a year and a half old, has been at the SOS Village since she was 10 days old, has 10 brothers and sisters, and her mother Krishna has been with SOS for fifteen years.
This particular SOS Village has nineteen mothers in all with a total of 215 children. All of the children either go to the local public schools or are now working if unmarried. There had even been a wedding in the village the night before, the bride grew up in the SOS Village, now a young woman and working as a nurse, her mother and SOS helped to arrange her marriage.
Surrounded by Kushi, her entire family and a SOS representative, we got a tour of the SOS Village, and then spent the afternoon in Kushi’s family’s house, playing with all the children, eating snacks, learning everyone’s life story, and of course taking lots of pictures.
We learned all about the organization, about this particular SOS Village and its many sponsors, about the home for retired mothers (which apparently is always empty as older women are constantly visiting their now grown children’s homes), about the after school homework programs, the onsite medical services, and most importantly about these incredible SOS mothers who dedicate their lives to the organization.
What struck us most was the idea that the SOS organization is not only giving food and shelter to orphaned children, but is actually creating families and communities. The sense of family here is stronger than blood. We feel honored to have been so welcomed by the team SOS India, by Kushi’s mother, and all the children who were so full of smiles and hugs!!
- Angela Singhal