Monday, January 16, 2012

Look What I’ve Done, Ma’am

 by Shari Levitin
Shari Levitin is a longtime Christel House supporter who recently fulfilled a dream of visiting a Christel House learning center. She traveled to Christel House India in December, and she wrote about her experience for us!

My excitement to come to India was tempered by my anxiety at seeing the hopeless poverty. I was warned-- No matter how much a foreigner mentally prepares, it’s painful to experience. The Christel House was our first stop upon arriving in the bustling city of Bangalore: a safe haven for children from the slums. A place where kids from the poorest of families from the most impoverish conditions imaginable come to school.

“Look at my badge, Ma’am” says a wide-eyed little boy. “Look what I won today.” Swarms of children gather round us, chests out, heads held high. They had just completed a sports competition. My traveling companion, Lee, and I award the victorious in a grand ceremony. The pride, self esteem and feeling of accomplishment felt by this little boy permeates throughout Christel House.

 I meet a young girl who shows me her drawings. “Look what we’ve done here, Ma’am.” I see a room filled with beautiful artwork: Colorful scenes of joy, fruit trees, animals. She presents a life size mural on the wall that the older kids drew. No hopelessness in sight. I meet a young man, the in-house videographer. He, too, is proud. He runs his own department.

Later, we meet a confident young women. She has been a student at Christel House for eight years. She is studying science. “I am going to University, then I am coming to America. I will visit you there, Ma’am.”

We try to leave. But the children hang on. “Look here.” “Look what I’ve done.” “See where I’m going?” “Will you stay, Ma’am? “

As I write this, I am flying over Mumbai looking at the miles of slums. The shacks, the dearth. I no longer feel a sense of hopelessness. One person can make a difference.

I might say to Christel Dehaan, “Look what you’ve done, Ma’am.”

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