Aids and HIV are dreaded words. How do you conquer this dreaded disease? Sometimes there will be a miracle, and a child diagnosed with HIV/AIDS will totally beat the disease. This is rare, but has happened at the Santvana Comforter AIDS Kids Home in Pune, India. The children are given a great diet, and loving care. Eventually they will have to start the retro-antiviral medications to control their disease. All of them are just children, but children with HIV.
We arrived at the Santvana Comforter Home and were met by 25 happy, well cared for orphans. All the children but one are HIV positive. A beautiful distinguished medical doctor, Lalita Edwards greeted us as well. We have fallen in love with Dr. Edwards and the kids of Santvana over the last few years. She is one of the most compassionate people we have ever met. She radiates love and care, and has a passion for children who are HIV positive. Most of the children come from homes where their mothers were in prostitution, and who died of AIDS. She takes the children no one else is willing to take.
Children Rescued From Sex Slavery
I want to share about one child we met. Her name is Brenda. Brenda is a sweet little girl, but she was born as a boy. Shocking, I know! It’s common in India for children to be sold into prostitution. If they are little boys, the traffickers often drug them, and operate on them to turn them into eunuch’s . These children are then trafficked in brothels across the nation. As horrifying as this is, it happens regularly. Brenda has been rescued and now lives in this loving, caring home, but she carries the scars of what has been done to her, including being HIV positive. She has battled infections and serious health challenges, but is now doing well.
Balloons and Bubbles
Jeff & Tracy joined us on this trip to India. Tracy has a wonderful gift. The gift is not preaching or teaching. She has learned how to make balloon animals, swords and hats. Her balloon creations were a real ‘hit’ in every home we visited. Children would line up with their requests. Many of the boys wanted swords and shields, and balloon battles broke out all across the room when they got their swords. Bubbles were another great gift for the kids. Simple things make the deepest impact at times. The kids loved just being kids, and Tracy ministered with balloons and bubbles.
Yes it’s true! Jan and I were attacked in India. It didn’t happen on the streets. It happened the small apartment, in a plain, ordinary apartment building in Pune, India. We were the unexpected victims of the attack of precious little kids from the Transition Home of the Good Shepherd Homes.
As soon as we walked in the door they swarmed us and they were yelling “Wick Uncle”, “Wick, Uncle”. Then, they surrounded us and gave us one of the best group hugs we’ve ever had.
GOOD SHEPHERD TRANSITION HOME
The transition home is one of my favorite places on Earth. These are the little kids that have been rescued from the streets – from work slavery, and sex slavery. They are the small children of the good Shepherd homes. Their lives have been absolutely transformed by the love and care given by the Good Shepherd staff. I look at the loving faces of these little ones, and I want to cry and laugh all at the same time. They’ve endured unspeakable horrors, but they’ve been rescued from that life by this amazing ministry. We’re so blessed to partner with them through Streams of Mercy.
After the group hug Sunali comes to my side. I fell hopelessly in love with her a couple years ago when we first visited the Transition Home. From the first time I saw her, she began to call me ‘Grandfather’. She had been a work slave in a slum in India. Sunali stays close by, and she smiles with that gentle, loving smile. How could this little orphan girl have experienced such a devastating past, and how can she be so loved now?
A GIFT OF LOVE, A GIFT OF SHOES
Soon, all of the children run out of the room. I wonder where they’ve gone, until they return holding a precious treasure. They’re all holding the pair of shoes that they purchased through our Shoes for Orphans project that many of you have given to. The kids want to a shoe store, and were able to pick out and shoes that they personally loved. This is a rare occasion for them. They were very proud of their purchases, and I had to comment on every single pair of shoes. Some of them were sandals. Some of them are running shoes. All of them were precious treasures for these little kids. I’m amazed that such a small gift can make such a big impact.
WRECKED BY HIS LOVE
I sit here today “wrecked” by the Love of God. He’s given us a glimpse of His heart for these kids. How can we ever be the same? Jan and I are so very grateful for all who give to make this ministry possible through your prayers and giving to Streams of Mercy.
We arrived into our hotel at 6:00 AM. We would only be able to have about five hours sleep before we headed out for our first orphanage. Our first stop was the Good Shepherd Homes and offices in Talegaon, India.
GOOD SHEPHERD HOMES
The Good Shepherd Holmes is an amazing ministry in three different locations in this nation. The first location is the main center in Talegaon. This facility houses both a boys home and a girls home. There are about 35 children in these two homes. Talegaon is about an hour and a half drive from where we were staying in Pune.
When we arrived we were met by 35 excited older young people. This facility houses the older children of the Good Shepherd homes. The children were extremely excited to be able to see us and to have Patty visit them as well. Patty has spent many hours with the older girls with the Hopes Gate jewelry project. They look to her like an older sister.
This ministry is extremely effective in transforming the lives of these kids. Many of of the children come from the streets. Many of them are abandoned. All of them have found a loving home in this ministry. All of their lives have been radically transformed!
We hung out with young people and had a wonderful time of sharing together. The young people presented dances and gave testimonies of Christ’s life changing impact their lives.
SHOES FOR ORPHANS PROJECT
The highlight of our time was when the young people came out wearing their brand brand-new shoes. We are doing a Shoes for Orphans project in Streams of Mercy, and now the young people were very excited to show us the shoes that they chose. The kids actually got to go to the store and pick out shoes for themselves. Some chose running shoes, others, dress shoes. Some picked out sandals, but all of them got to choose the shoes that they wore. It’s so amazing to think that a pair of shoes can transform the lives of young people. When you’ve never purchased a pair of shoes yourself, this is an extremely important event. We want to thank everyone who gave generously to the Shoes for Orphans project. In the good Shepherd Homes alone, we were able to purchase shoes for almost 90 children in their 3 different locations.
The trip to Talegaon was the beginning of our newest adventure in India. Thank you so much for all who partner with us in Streams of Mercy. Your gifts are truly changing the lives of needy children!
Wick & Jan
Monday we loaded up in the bus and headed to the Children of Lepers Home. Little Lights is home to 33 Children whose parents & or grandparents live in the leper colony. The vision of the staff is to see the lives & futures of the kids transformed. They want to break the cycle of generations that have no other way but to stay in the colonies. It was touching to hear how committed the staff are to keeping the kids very connected with their parents and families. They spend holidays with them & the parents visit regularly. Living at Little lights allows the children to get a good education, brings them into a safe place and breaks the stigma that society puts on them as children of lepers.
Joe was a toddler when the staff found him in the leper colony. He was tied with a rope around his wast to a tree. On the ground beside him there were 2 bowls–one for water, and one for food. His parents left him tied to the tree each day when they went out to beg.
By living at Little Lights Joe is able to play, go to school and grow up as a healthy child.
The team presented a puppet show, gave out T-shirts, and spent time helping the kids decorate them!
Check back tomorrow for another report from Chennai!
This week Streams of Mercy has a team in India visiting the three homes we sponsor in the city of Chennai. The theme of this trip is “you are not forgotten”. They’re presenting a terrific puppet show, giving out clothes, food, solar lights and more. Check back this week for highlights from the trip.