I am thankful to report that this past April – June, we were blessed to receive 17 more children at Mtendere Village. Our staff got to experience many of the children’s “firsts”: first time to ever sleep on a mattress, first time to wear a pair of shoes, first time to see a camera, and, first time ever to meet an American.
It was our 2 year olds’ first time in life to be held. Andrew’s father disappeared before he was born and his mother died after giving birth. He was raised by his grandfather which meant staying home alone for days at a time with no food while his grandfather occupied the local beer halls. There was no stimulation or human interaction. When he was brought to us, he was not only malnourished but emotionally vacant. The love of the other children overwhelmed him. After 30 days of constant love and attention, we watched as for the first time ever, Andrew reached for a hug and for the first time since we received him, he smiled.
Jaziel is our 4 year old who lost both his mom and dad. His grandmother could not feed or clothe him. Much like all our children, Jaziel came to Mtendere with only the clothes on his back. It was his first full day and the sound of the lunch bell rang. Jaziel asked, “What does that mean?” and Michael (our 5 year old) told him, “that is the sound of lunch, lets go get our food!” Jaziel said, “You mean we get to eat again?”…. Not only was this the first time for Jaziel to wear new clothes, but it was his first time in life, to be fed twice in one day.
Fatsani (our 6 year old) after losing both his mother and father, lived with his grandmother. When his health began to suffer because she was not able to care for him, the Chief of his village brought the urgent matter to us. After a month of living at Mtendere, he looked and behaved like a new child. At this same time, his aunt came to my house and said she had just received the news that her only sisters son was taken to a place that she was told “sells children to America.” She was in tears and demanded to see her nephew. She asked if she was too late. She wanted to know if we had sold her only connection to her late sister. As I began to explain to her that we do not “sell children to anyone” and talked with her more about our programs, she suddenly saw Fatsani running to her in the distance. She covered her eyes, rested her head on my shoulder and cried out, “Praise God for you all at this place! I’ve never known people like you who would take in orphans and treat them like kings.” For the first time in his life, Fatsani was according to her being treated like a king! Praises to the King of Kings for blessings like this!
We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.
As future teachers, helping children learn and succeed is one of our many passions. Arriving at the orphanage in Mtendere Village we were unsure of just how this passion would be sparked, but it quickly lit on fire and burned the whole time we were there. Some of us had spent minimal time working with children, especially directly in a classroom. This experience level quickly changed as we were divided up into different classrooms our second day at Mtendere. There were some students teaching the housemothers of the village, others in preschool age classrooms, and then others in primary or secondary aged classrooms. Every classrooms proposed challenges and situations to apply different teaching methods we had been taught all the way back at Ball State University.
Some students even had the experience of working one on one with the children at Mtendere, in an hour and half tutoring session everyday. These tutoring sessions allowed us to work on a more personal level with the children and help them individually in the area of reading. The sessions consisted of learning the level of reading our student could achieve, and work on areas such as comprehension that proved to be more difficult. The sessions not only consisted of helping the children with reading, but it also proposed opportunities to get to know and create relationships with our students.
Our time in Mtendere was spent mostly with the children; we acted as teachers to them whether it was in the classroom or playing games. We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.
Bethany Thompson is an Elementary Education student at Ball State University.
31 Million. According to UNICEF, this number represents the number of orphaned children living in India—21% of the estimated 147 million orphans worldwide. We have provided housing for hundreds of children in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Nagpur through our partnership with Reaching Indians Ministries International (RIMI), but these statistics support our belief that much more needs to be done.
While we are saddened that circumstances deem it necessary, we are excited for the opportunity to expand our orphan care program in Nagpur, India, and welcome more children into our family there. Under the leadership of Reverend Saji Lukos, RIMI and 100X support and educate more than 100 orphans and vulnerable children in Nagpur; however, we want to reach more. So, we are expanding! We have recently begun construction on a second floor addition that will provide additional room for staff and children. We never want to be in the position that we cannot accept one more.
Read more about our partnership with RIMI, and join us in our work to reach the orphans of India.