I viewed with great interest the documentary film, Mother India: Life through the eyes of the Orphan (2012). With over 31 million orphans in India This film takes us briefly into the lives of 25 orphaned or abandoned youngsters (ages 3 to 25) that live on the railways in South India. I’ve been thinking a lot about India boiler service near me which is suffering severely from COVID. Today, the world sends material assistance along with prayers and the best wishes to our global neighbors and our brothers and sisters in India.
David Trotter and Shawn Scheinoha who produced conveyancing the documentary, first traveled to Tenali (Andhra Pradesh), population three hundred thousand, in 2004. The documentary follows Geetha, Reddy, Nagareju, Lakshmi, Kotegwari, Polayya, Yellapah, Satkyananda, Aadamma, Yesu, Abdullabi, Baachir, Chilipada, Raja, Ramu, Sekar, Siva, Gopi, P. Gopi, Hussen, Kiran, Mark, Nageswararao, Nami, and Narendra These are beautiful names, shining human beings worthy of our admiration. David and Shawn interviewed the children and tried to look at life through their eyes. The kids sleep together on cement or dirt floors covered with condoms and needles. Some sleep at store fronts. They wrapped themselves in blankets so they could avoid mosquitoes and being recognized as an exploitable young person.
The children beg money for food from passing train passengers at times, first “cleaning” or sweeping the train car’s floor before holding out their hands for either one rupee or (one of two dollars). After the day, they might be able to afford one or two dollars to purchase food. The leader of the group was solicitous Reddy (“I do not have anything but my mother, she beat me so I quit. “), in his 20s and early 20s, yet living for more than 10 years on the street. Reddy would rally the group to assist each other. Lakshmi was abused by her foster parent who burnt her with a hot steelrod. When her boyfriend saw her speaking to another boy, he forced her to hold her hands underneath the train. Two fingers fell off. She was crying and said that she had a son and he passed away just three days old. Satkyananda’s parents died in a car accident. Nagareju’s family beat him and he ran away. One third of the kids had missing limbs of their body, most often due to falling jumping onto the train (train hopping). The children first wanted to show David as well as Shawn their injuries: missing fingers, hands, arm, leg, deep lesions. That is a major unhidden and often overlooked aspect of the pain they experienced.
“Not above but among,” David and Shawn decide to leave their comfortable climate-controlled Gotham Hotel room and sleep among the homeless youngsters on the dirt and concrete floor. They experienced, if only for a short time an exposure to the hot temperatures and the swarm of mosquitoes that bit. Waking up early, they saw children huddled in bed, a group of security like a pack of puppies, wrapped in mounds. The children wash their teeth on the well with their fingers. They also produce powder upon the spot by rubbing bricks together.
The youngsters are invited to to fairs where everyone can have some fun and excitement including rides, games and games that distract them from their constantly thinking about how they will be able to survive. The children all were prone to “bad habits” to numb the grief of their lives. Many smoked cigarettes or chewed tobacco and some, in danger of sharing needles, injected an unknown substance, which “took away the sadness.” Some “huffed” by sucking in the fumes from rags that were soaked in Erazex “White-Out” correction fluid which cost 50 cents “to avoid the pain of beatings from police cold and rain in winter, and mosquito bites. “A excursion to the funeral site of a youngster who had died three weeks before of an overdose has been recorded.
The children were sexually assaulted with the older children sexing the children younger. Geetha relates the sad story of being sold to the red-light area as a sex-sex exchange in exchange for money. It was a coincidence that two men recognized him took him back to the youth hostel. While praying with his hands, Geetha says, “I am thankful to these two men.” HIV/AIDS is very common among young people.
They have dreams and hopes. Their eyes still light up. “I want to run my own business and enjoy life as a normal person.” “I want to be a mechanic.” “I want a good house and to marry.” “I want to get a house for myself.” David and Shawn turn to their friends who are at Harvest India, to place at their main orphanage two children with the lowest IQ, siblings, Kotegwari, a seven-year-old girl and Polayya, a boy who is three years old. The whole group gets on the bus, and then go to visit the orphanage, where they receive haircuts, showers and receive new clothing, and enjoy a tasty dinner consisting of chicken, various curries along with rice and yogurt. Children were beaming, “walking different,” with confidence, enthusiasm, and dignity.
Reddy and the kids support Kotegwari and Polayya in their move to the orphanage although they would never choose to reside there. Suresh along with Christina Kumar oversee daily operations of Harvest India, a service to, with, and from orphaned, abandoning, unaccompanied children. They offer a safe haven for 1400 children at 26 locations. Harvest India has been in existence for over 40 years. Suresh says that the children thrown away are miserable, distrustful and feeling abandoned, homeless, neglected with no one to talk to, neglected with no parents or fathers who are consumed instead of cared for, abused instead of loved. Suresh himself was raised in an orphanage. There after his father’s death early, the mother had found employment. Suresh and Christina begin the process by which Kotegwari and Polayya will be accepted by Harvest India.
Harvest India with all the good work it is doing is not unaffected by criticism (fair as well as not) for being open about its Christian mission to convert the 74% Hindu and 12% Muslim populace (and other minor beliefs) to Christianity which is currently about 6% of the population of India. But, the film is raising our awareness in mind and heart, influencing our world for the better small steps that could lead to large healing.