India v2 >> El Shaddai Orphanage

First off, thank you all SO MUCH for all of the lovely birthday wishes! It was truly a weekend to remember, I had a blast. Pizza was had, champagne was drunk, cupcakes were eaten, karaoke was (badly) sung, and Mad Men was watched. What more could a girl ask for?

Today I thought I would share some more pictures from my trip to India, this time from our visit to the El Shaddai Orphanage. Admittedly, I was a little nervous about this part of the trip. I sometimes feel like I'm not that great with kids, and I had no idea what to expect. Would it be sad? Would it be hard to communicate? Would they even care that we were there?

Well, I shouldn't have worried. The kids certainly weren't! They were just like little kids anywhere-- curious, playful, rambunctious, and carefree. These first few pics are of the building itself, where the children all live. This house had about 50 kids under the age of 7 or so living here. There were other houses for the older kids.
The room above is the main room where they sleep and spend their time indoors. The mats piled up on the back are what they sleep on.
All of the little toothbrushes piled up. How they keep them separate, I have no idea, maybe they don't.
This is where all of the clothes were kept. I think they're just sorted by size, and the kids wear them that way.
This is the back, where laundry is hung out to dry, and chickens are kept. There were also pretty new-looking bathroom and shower facilities.

Is this place grim, especially by Western standards? Most definitely. But after hearing that many of these kids are here because their parents were exploiting them in the slums, or because their parents couldn't afford to feed them (some were brought here by their parents, who can visit them), it doesn't seem as bad in comparison. Some of these kids, as young as 3, were made to collect recycling in the streets of Delhi or Mumbai, and told not to come home if they didn't have enough. They would likely not be getting fed everyday, let alone going to school.
Here, they go to school everyday, have a clean, warm place to sleep, and receive regular medical care. Their English is impeccable, and the workbooks they showed me were full of creativity, smarts, and big dreams. El Shaddai has programs that run all the way into adulthood, to prepare them for a life where they can work and earn a good living. Of course an orphanage is no substitute for a stable, loving family who can provide for you, but the reality is, these kids did not have that.

The girl above, Saraya, was SO CUTE! She attached herself to me right away, and wanted to play, play, play. She and her sister reminded me a lot of me and my sister at their ages.
We brought stickers and markers for the kids, who went nuts for them. As we started handing them out, more and more little hands would appear to get whatever you had.
I brought sidewalk chalk, which they were really into, but got taken away by the staff pretty quickly (I think because they didn't want them to make a mess -- fair enough!). I hope they get to play with it another day.
Almost as much as the stickers, the kids LOVED seeing pictures of themselves on our cameras. I took countless pictures of them, and as soon as I was done with each one, they'd run over to peer at the screen on the back.
It was such an unforgettable experience, and I'm so glad it was part of our trip. I had a blast playing hide and seek with the kids, swinging in trees, and taking pictures of each other. It wasn't much, but I hope it was a bright spot for them, because it definitely was for me.

If you'd like to learn more about El Shaddai and the work they do, or better yet to contribute, please check out their website for more info.

shanti >> sondra

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  1. Sarah Pete4/9/13, 9:40 PM

    ohmygoodness, they are precious. What a sweet experience for you and them!

  2. Faith Bradley4/10/13, 5:05 PM

    This reminds me of my time spent at an orphanage in Phnom Penh. You should send them some hardcopy photos in the mail, they would loooove it!

  3. Absolutely amazing photos, thanks for sharing! My husband and I hope to go to India one day. This just fuels that desire. <3

  4. MORNIN'
    Sunday morning I have to check for any new BFA entries and here you are again!
    NO IDEA how the linkage happens; it cracks me up tho... Your green smoothie looks good too :)