...An epic day calls for an epic post. Out of the 343 pictures I took this morning, I can't narrow down my list of favorites to fewer than 37. With 31 people in a convoy of two tuk-tuks, we made a statement today as donations from around the world were used to purchase shoes and uniforms that will carry these precious children to new heights as their first day of school rapidly approaches.
This morning, we took 14 students and their available family members to the tailor and shoe store. For six of our children, their parents could not come. Pooja and Anita brought their older siblings. Neha, Gudiya, Manisha, and Rahul did not have anyone to bring so we gave them some special attention of our own.
I had thought we were high profile last week when we took just four students to get shoes and uniforms. Today, heads were turning everywhere to see our caravan of opportunity. In the market, people found out what was happening and asked if we could get their children admitted to the Carmel Convent School.
We arrived back at the war-zone looking street where the tailor is hidden. Holding hands and with smiles from ear to ear, the kids filed into the nondescript establishment.
The parents and kids lined up for measurements and information, each of which was systematically taken. Neha and Gudiya have been patiently waiting for this day. They were appropriately at the front of the line.
After some business matters, we all piled back into the tuk-tuks for our next destination: the shoe store.
The shoe store was overflowing with inspiration and hope. Other customers looked on in disbelief of what was happening. Even strangers came over to shake my hand and say thank you.
The children obediently waited their turns and showed great pride in their new shoes. Rahul even put a plastic bag over each of his bare feet before trying on his new shoes so as not to taint them.
Indu is Anita's older sister and came to serve as Anita's guardian. Indu took great pride just in verifying that Anita's shoes met her approval. Indu and Anita's stories are particularly touching. There will be a heart-tugging post soon just about their family.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the recent increase in commitment displayed by Madhu's family. For the last week, I feared that Madhu would not receive the necessary family support. However, when she and her mother showed up this morning and promised complete devotion, I was thrilled to have her aboard.
After a more efficient visit than I had expected, everyone cheerfully funneled out of the store with new shoes in hand.
I am repeatedly astonished by the maturity and responsibility displayed by our students. They are rugged, independent, and hungry for goals. They take care of each other in ways that wealthier children do not. Just seeing them makes me smile. To watch them obtain what they deserve for the first time makes me celebrate on the inside.
Three weeks ago, Suniana Devi had no plans for her daughter. Now, she is already proud of Rani. With the donations buying these shoes and uniforms, Rani will go places and do things that her mother cannot even fathom. To those who continue to donate, thank you so much. God bless you.