Just returned from India and my mind is swirling with a renewed sense of hope and determination. Spending time with our kids is the most rewarding part of my job. To see their faces as they explain how well they did on a test, or share in their joy of life is intoxicating.
We sit elbow-to-elbow covered in glitter and glue as part of an arts and crafts day. We are making bookmarks and home made valentines. The table filled with colored pencils, crayons, scissors and sequins scattered about confetti style. The smile that goes with a finished project is priceless, the time spent gathered at the table is food for the soul. After more than 10 years sitting in the sand with these kids it still astonishes me how fully engaged with life they are given what life handed them from birth. They have consistently taught me more about life than I could ever teach them. Maybe that is the point, the earnestness of life knocking at our door with each outstretched hand as I walk in after so many months apart as if no time had passed at all. What is most extraordinary is that, given everything that has transpired in their lives – born HIV-positive, parents dead, plaguing health issues, sent away because no family member could take on the full weight of what living with HIV demands in a developing world – is their natural alignment of the heart tilts toward hope.
Since our move to the city, much has been accomplished. Every one of our kids is attending a public school with hundreds of other children, exchanging ideas, creating friendships and working through a challenging daily schedule that demands much of them. We have tutors who come nightly to help fill in the gaps as they adjust to a more demanding curriculum. We are making plans to bring the remnants of an organic farm on site back to life (more news on that to follow).
As with most kids, they continue to amaze me as they meet each challenge with a fierce resolve to achieve their dreams. We have grown together over the past 10 years plus. Parents sometimes wonder if what they say is actually being heard or if you start to resemble a robot, repeating words, phrases and ideas that fall on deaf ears. I could not count how many times I have said, “Anything is possible if you work hard enough.” The years have shown me that words matter. The love, encouragement and commitment Hope Now reflects each day goes beyond words. We create an environment where the power of possibility is the rule of the day.
We have 10 kids in college and one in trade school. Over the next several years that number will grow. We have lots of work to do. We are all determined to make 2017 another successful year in building a life well lived for every child we serve.