Many people have asked me what draws me to India, and it’s a difficult question to answer. For my confirmation, way back in the last millennium, I received a book with daily quotes from Mother Teresa [“The Joy in Loving”]. I remember reading one entry which described a young girl visiting India from Paris. Mother noted that her eyes weren’t smiling, and sent her to work in Kalighat, where she found Jesus.
Perhaps I knew my eyes weren’t smiling either. Looking back I was certainly very innocent. I remember my journey from the airport, wondering if these people really slept on the streets, who owned the dogs and cows etc.! It was like landing on another planet - many miles away from the United States. However, I was soon captivated by the Indian community; by the warmth and friendliness of the people and Priest, Sisters and lay People. I felt accepted for who I was, not for what I could do. I began my pastoral mission visiting the sick and dying. It probably sounds clichéd, but from the very beginning it became apparent that whatever we gave, we received much more.
Like many others, I enjoy sharing in the prayer life as well as the apostolate. I began our day at 5am with Morning Prayer, and ended it with adoration. In a city as chaotic and noisy as Chennai, the chapel becomes a vital part of my day. Saint Thomas Tomb is also a very special place to offer prayers and find moments of solitude.
Sometimes it’s easy to become immune to the poverty in India – after all, everything is relative. However, ministering to the sick and dying and destitute is a very humbling experience. India for me is a very special place. It is a quiet place; a place where the tears of the dying and the tears of the searching meet; a place where east meets west; where boundaries are broken. I was continually humbled; at the lady who thanked me for helping her eat, at the lady curled up in the corner of her bed sobbing who let me sit with her ... at the woman with excruciating burns who endured daily agony, yet raised her hands in gratitude to the doctor.
You’re reminded that it’s 2016 and people are dying without anything and anyone; forgotten by the world; rejected; unwanted; unloved. One lady in particular stands out in my memory – she had such sad eyes; our lives had been so different; different languages and cultures and customs; yet as I fed her, we were somehow united "together" in our humanity. That shared experience matters, and you realize that touching each other’s brokenness is where we find Jesus.
Every one of us contributes a drop to the ocean of humanity, and it is certainly true that the ocean would be less without these drops. It is so easy to look at the big picture; to see the thousands of suffering people, and forget that we can only do small things with great love - that the one person we serve at a given moment is Jesus. This was definitely apparent when we served food to Hundreds of people who queued so patiently at the gates. This is a passage from an email I sent home: "There is a chilly cold in the air at the moment, and as I walk past bodies wrapped in sheets on the pavement - I realize how close to that first nativity we are here. When we tend to the dying, - when we give out blankets as we were this morning ... this is Christian Love ... not fairy lights and tinsel. I find myself seeing the Holy Family on every pavement in this city - poor, needy and vulnerable; whole families surviving in this cold weather, on a patch of dirty pavement - one day to the next, one year to the next. They aren't busy preparing the turkey or wrapping last minute presents. They haven't sent any Christmas cards, or decorated a tree. These babies know nothing of Santa-Claus, they don't have a stocking to hang at the end of their bed - yet they have something many people with all of those things will lack. Perhaps it sounds clichéd, but Mother Teresa was right, here people share ... they huddle under the same blanket; they share the little food they have with their neighbors. There is no room at the Inn for them both ... they live in the cold, rejected by the world - and they do so with humility.
I was reminded this morning as we gave out blankets and rice, of the queues around the world in shopping malls. People waited so long for these essential items, which they received with such gratitude. It is a lesson to us all."
I have met so many wonderful people during my time in India and I consider all who crossed my path to be my extended family. People think it is courageous, to go to India – yet those who do so discover that far from being difficult, they are embraced and welcomed with such love. I would like to say my motive for visiting was altruistic, but I needed them far more than they needed me. The irony is, it is easy to love in India, where the physical poverty is so great. As Mother said “you will find India all over the world if you have the eyes to see”; and this is the biggest challenge for all of us.
“I Thirst” defines my experience serving the poorest of the poor
“I Thirst” These two words said by our Lord Jesus as he hung upon the cross defines my experience serving the poorest of the poor alongside with Saint Teresa of Calcutta Indian Mission. It is this infinite thirst that we seek to quench in every small act of love we give to the poor. I am grateful to God for this time that I have been blessed with, here in India. In every difficult moment, God’s grace is always there to help get through the trial, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in. God’s Love and Mercy is very much alive and at work here. In each of the Sisters, Brothers and Fathers smile, the love of Jesus is radiated throughout the world.
In rural India, only three out of every 10 people have access to clean water. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of diseases in India are related to unsafe drinking water. There are more than 1,600 deaths each day from diarrhea alone.
Picture this, your life, in a very different light. Bereft of the barest essentials and the simplest joys you took for granted. Like your daily meal, or the education you've had. Picture that life. That is the fate of millions of children in India. Their hunger has driven them to work, far away from schools and their fondest dreams.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, we will give them one good, hearty meal every day. This will encourage the children across to attend school. However, our work doesn't end here. We have a long way to go. And we need you to come along, to cover that distance with us.
Over the years, we’ve realized that there is an indelible link between hunger and education. We have learnt that parents are more willing to send their children to school because of the meal we will provide for them.
Join us in this latest initiative, as we raise awareness about the importance of children enrolling in school every year. Help us to feed the hunger of children, from schools, in India. We wish to cover more and reach out to more children who are Hungry.
Contribute to support a child's precious dream.
All it takes is Rs 750 (12.00 US Dollars) to feed a child for a whole academic year. Do you wish to make a difference in someone's life? Then click here.