Water by Saanvi

Heat. Sweat. Exhaustion. Thirst.

Racing heart beat. Thrill. Excitement.

I feel all these things when we have a [soccer] match. When the whistle blows and the game is won, my first thought is to jump and cheer and hug my teammates. My second thought is to have a drink of water.

There we are, 11 players waiting our turn to swig from the single water bottle available on the field. I remember seeing Hollywood movies in which players would dump huge jugs of water over their coaches heads at the end of a match. I would laugh and think, “Wow, how fun would that be to do after every match.” I was almost envious of their unlimited supply of water.

But isn’t every drop special and priceless? Doesn’t every drop of water make an impact?

In our villages, water wells and pumps are built in the center of town, proving how instrumental they are to the community development. Everyone gathers every morning and evening to collect their daily water needs. If someone doesn’t turn up, then we will bring water to their home and check on them and make sure they aren’t sick or in need of any help.

In some of our villages the nearest water supply is miles away. Usually women will make the daily journey. Some see it as a STRUGGLE, and YES, it is very difficult to live without a nearby water supply. However women mostly enjoy these daily walks where they can chat with their friends, hear the latest village gossip, share their struggles and seek advice and support from one another.

In the cities, we sometimes struggle from water shortages in which there is low or no supply. We sometimes have to wait a day or two before there is running water again, which is difficult if you have not stored any emergency supply water in your home.

During these days you see people carrying empty buckets to their neighbors’ homes and leaving with full buckets back to their own homes. Water trucks come and everyone gathers with their buckets and wait their turn. The children especially enjoy the water trucks as they splash around in the water that leaks out.

And then, here we are, on the field, under the hot sun, after a tenuous and triumphant match. We 11 girls wait our turn to drink from that one single bottle. That one single bottle is beautiful. It is life-giving.

Not one of us takes more than our share. Not one of us drinks without thinking of the other girls who are waiting, just as thirsty and tired. And everyone gets their fill. Everyone is satisfied.

This proves how amazing water is, whether in excess or in limited supply. It gives life and builds community.

-Saanvi, age 11

_____

Saanvi’s essay was published in Bright Lite Magazine’s Water Issue http://www.brightlitemag.com/

Saanvi is a grade 7 student in

One Life to Love’s education program

Missing the Moments

Maybe this is why… Maybe this is why we aren’t raising the funds we need? Because every time I come to the orphanage to try to get some work done, send emails, make phone calls, there is need all around. We are out of milk, the TV isn’t working, we can’t find the key to the store closet, roti’s are burning on the stove, there’s a package that needs to be signed for, and kids…Cute little kids… EVERYWHERE.

Some need to be brought to the bathroom, some want a drink of water, some are fighting over a toy, some need their hair combed, some need their clothes changed, some are about to miss their school bus. And then some just want to be held, like this, in my lap. To have me wrap my arms around them. To be tickled under their chin, to be told they are loved. To be held, hugged, and smiled at and told how special they are. Some…no not some…ALL.. of these children just want to feel the love of a mother, a sister, a brother, a father.

How could I say no? How could I shut the office door on the face of a child in need of love? I can’t. Instead I let him climb onto my lap at my desk and wonder at my computer screen. So maybe that is why I am falling behind on emails, unable to raise the funds needed for the year ahead, reaching the ends of my rope.

 

I don’t write this to try and gain sympathy or make people feel like we are starving here, because we are not. In fact, One Life to Love is impacting more lives than ever through our education program, orphanage and relief services.

The truth is, I write this to share my inner struggle. I see myself almost as the sole provider for 500+ children. My job? To tell their stories in hopes of rallying people who will provide moral and financial support so these children can live the healthy, happy and successful lives that every child deserves.

I know that this pressure at times weighs heavy on me, often setting in feelings of failure, especially in regards to my responsibilities as a mother to a sweet 1 ½ year old and wife to the most supportive and loving husband. Of course my husband refutes these feelings. But still. The guilt is there. Am I failing? Am I letting the responsibilities God has given me, whether of the 500+ children we support, or my own family, slip through my fingers, by trying to do so much? Lord, help me not.

I’ve always had a strong conviction to reach out to those that cross my path; to meet a need impressed on my heart. But I remember once becoming so focused on results that I lost sight of what really mattered. At that time, we had two children in our orphanage and 17 girls in our education program. I had just given birth to our son, and was still adjusting to being a new wife and mom.

There were people who made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough. Actually, they told me I wasn’t doing enough. They told me I should be ashamed for asking for funding for “only” two orphans and 17 girls, regardless if we needed the money or not. And I let their words fall deep into my heart and resonate as truth. I became so obsessed with “reaching more children” and my efforts were useless. I was running around in circles. One day I realized, all the time I spent running in circles, I was missing out on moments with the ones God placed before me- our two boys in the orphanage, the 17 girls in the school, my husband, my son. I was so sorry, and knew that I robbed myself of those moments.

I kind of took an oath that day, to never make the same mistake. That is why I started writing this here. Because I guess I started feeling the pressure again, to run in circles, to raise the funds we need. But the reality is, God provides. He has in the past. He is now. And He will in the future. So I refuse to miss out on the moments.

I believe, as God sees each ONE of us as precious and invaluable, He also sees the MOMENTS as precious and invaluable. He can do marvelous works through one person, and He can do marvelous works through one moment.

So, Shivam is now sitting on my lap again as I write these last sentences, probably wondering what in the world I am doing, probably keeping me from some “important” work I could be doing. But he is smiling…not smiling. He is beaming and glowing. He feels loved. He feels important. And he is. Way more important than any email or phone call or crowdfunder. Way more important than my “To Do” list.

And, the best part is, he knows it.

Love & prayers,

Courtney

 

P.S. If you’d like to contribute to One Life to Love, to help us meet our financial goal so we can continue our work in India, please donate here: https://www.mogiv.com/onelifetolove/general/

You Can Change the World

If you have love in your heart, you cannot sit and watch and do nothing to help someone who is hurting. Love is a verb. Without action it is irrelevant. This verse from the Bible has always been dear to my heart, “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

 

It is easy to go about our daily lives and pretend like everything is fine. But the truth is there are 66 million girls out of school, 21 million girls being trafficked, and 39,000 child marriages happening every day. When we hear these statistics they seem so foreign; like they can’t possibly be factual in this world today. But it is fact. It is raw ugly fact.

Then our hearts break. And we feel helpless. What can I do? I’m just one person, and the need is so much bigger than me. Then we shrug our shoulders and move on with our privileged lives, maybe say a prayer or just hope that everything works itself out somehow. Hope that someone bigger than me can do something about it.

 

Reacting in this way will only leave us feeling empty, dissatisfied, like something is missing from our lives. And something is missing: Love.

 

Since 2013, I have been working with slum dwellers and street children. By the grace of God I have been able to rescue 10 boys, each with severe physical and mental disabilities, from the hands of traffickers, abusers, neglecters, and death itself. I have seen miracles take place in their lives. They have taught me so much about hope love and grace. They are my children, and I can’t imagine life without them.

 

Then, in 2016, a need so great was impressed on my heart- to give girls the basic right that has been taken away from them- EDUCATION. I took a leap of faith, and again by the grace of God today we sponsor the education of 400 underprivileged children.

 

I’m telling you, I never imagined that I would be responsible for so many precious lives. I never imagined that our impact would be so huge. And I have no idea where we will be next year, two years, not even two months from now. I do this by faith, with belief that if I just reach one child with Love and care, then I am changing the world.

 

So my friends, I urge you to stop getting overwhelmed with the world’s problems and then shrugging them off so you can get through the day. I ask you to take on a cause, a person, and a need. Take on the weight of it, with faith that you, tiny little you, can make a difference in this world, if even in just one person’s life.

 

If you don’t already have a list of causes or needs to sift through, I invite you to join our cause. Fight side-by-side with us to bring love, care, education and relief to poor children in India. Join our movement. Share on social media. Write for us. Come meet our children in India. The opportunities to put your love in action are endless.

 

One Life to Love was founded on the idea that we have only ONE LIFE and we are not really living it to the fullest until we LOVE, and LOVE in action, not words. And by doing this, by loving one child at a time- one needy underprivileged neglected child- we are literally changing the world. I invite you to join our latest campaign “Let her Learn” to help us raise awareness and support for girls education in India.

Contact us to see how you can get involved.

 

Love is… Ensuring her voice is heard

In India, only 1 in six girls will live to see their 15th birthday. When you talk about a statistic like this in a populated place like India, then you’re stating that millions and millions of girls are dying from preventable causes. It is staggering and heartbreaking.

 

From the time they can walk, girls are taught that they are not as important as their brothers. From the time they can speak, they are told their opinions are not important. Undervaluing of girls is so intricately interwoven in this remarkable culture that it is difficult to make these young ladies see differently. When you add to this the lack of education and the common practice of keeping girls in the home, then you realize why we struggle even more to help girls understand their great worth and abilities. This is why they are often insecure and subdued, and very vulnerable in life.

 

Manisha, for instance, was one of the saddest little girls I ever met. She was so unsure of herself that she never spoke. If the teacher called on her for an answer in class, you could see her humiliation as she hunched over in her chair. But the thing is she probably knew the answer every time. She is a brilliant student, top in her class. But she lacked any confidence to speak up.

 

We were able to spend a lot of time one-on-one with Manisha, building her up, helping her see how amazing she is. And in just a year’s time, we have seen outstanding changes in her demeanor. She is more confident in her self and knows where she excels. This past month, she actually raised her hand in class to answer a question!

 

If not for our education program, Manisha would lack the platform in life from which she could come into her own.

 

I am asking you to please consider sponsoring the education of a young girl in India. For just $100 a year, you are ensuring that each of their voices is heard.

https://www.mogiv.com/onelifetolove/loveis/

Deepika’s Story

Deepika is 13 years old. She dreams of becoming a beautician one day. Coming from a very poor family in India, she is brave to dream of having such a career.

Before we met Deepika,she had dropped out of 6th grade. Her parents were planning to get her engaged to a decent man from their village in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. And planned to get her married to him a few years after that. This is very common for poor families in India, for their children to get engaged at a young age. It ensures that their daughters will be taken care of, and gives peace of mind to poor parents who can barely make ends meet.

One Life to Love’s education program gave Deepika’s parents the option to send their daughter to school, cost-free, an option they did’nt have before; an option most poor parents still do not have. Deepika is beyond excited to be studying. The aspiring beautician spends her lunch hour braiding the other girls’ hair.

Thanks for giving girls like Deepika a chance to be who they want to be. You can help more girls like her by donating here: https://www.mogiv.com/onelifetolove/loveis/

 

An Unexpected, Mighty Warrior By Carol Eskaros

An Unexpected, Mighty Warrior

By Carol Eskaros

Imagine a mighty soldier going off to battle. To his chest and arms he has strapped state-of-the-art weapons. A sturdy helmet protects his head, and body armor covers his chest. Beyond his gear, his mind is set for battle. He has studied and trained for years. He thoroughly understands battle strategy and the chain of command. His body is toned. His mind is sharp. He is ready for war.

Now imagine that that very same soldier is no grown man, but rather, a child, a little girl by the age of 13.

Absurd right? No one would send a child into war!

And yet, the picture of the mental readiness of a soldier, the preparedness of his character – this is precisely what one of the greatest kings in history imagined when he described a young woman, a future wife. Taking great counsel from his own wise mother, this king wrote,

Who can find a virtuous wife?

For her worth is far above rubies.

The word for virtuous here actually means the strength and courage of a mighty warrior. A child – a girl – can have the very same courage to face life as a soldier facing battle. In fact, aspects of daily life and fearsome battles are often alike. Pressure, stress, physical exertion, mental exhaustion – even daily life needs courage, strength, and preparedness.

 

What’s more, the king says that this girl’s worth is far above rubies. Rubies are one of the most precious gemstones, known for their remarkable color and brilliance. But did you know, rubies are also renowned for their strength? In fact, a ruby is second only to a diamond in strength.

 

But what gives a child, a little girl, this remarkable virtue and worth? Two things lie at the heart of this girl’s courage and readiness. First is an understanding of her intrinsic worth. Human life has inherent value. How do you know how much something is really worth? By how much someone is willing to pay for it! An item at a market is only worth what someone is willing to pay to have it.

 

And that little girl is worth the greatest price of all – someone’s life. Jesus Christ, thousands of years ago, died on a cross to pay for whatever wrong that little girl, and every human being who ever lived, ever did. Her worth is far above rubies because of what Jesus was willing to pay for her life, and He paid everything. Thus, she is worth everything.

 

The second aspect of this child’s readiness is her education. A child who learns to read, write, communicate, and conduct basic mathematics is a child who can change her future home, her community, even her world. She becomes mentally prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, and uses what she has learned as a soldier utilizes his training in battle.

 

One of the greatest authors who ever lived, Victor Hugo, put it this way, “He who opens a school door closes a prison.” A child’s education is never a waste of time or effort. To the contrary, an education invests time and effort into everything a culture holds dear. As one proverb puts it, “An educated man can never be poor.”

 

By putting the truth of Jesus Christ, and an education into the hands of this young child, we have armed her with strength. We have prepared her, like the mighty warrior, for battle, and the victory is hers – and in fact, all of ours.

If you’d like to help prepare girls for “battle”, donate to One Life to Love’s campaign here: https://www.mogiv.com/onelifetolove/loveis/

You can read more of Carol’s heart-touching writings at www.caroleskaros.com

Love is… being a friend when she is in need

Last year, Priya (left) dropped out of school, and her best friend Kavita (right) was missing her a lot. You see, they were studying for their exams, but Priya couldn’t afford to buy the geometry box, pens, pencils & notebooks necessary for the final.

Kavita shared whatever she could with Priya while they studied, but during the test it would be impossible to share tools. So Priya, embarrassed and frustrated with her family’s poor situation, dropped out. Kavita pleaded with her own parents to buy Priya’s education tools, but they were barely able to afford the $6 on Kavita’s tools.

This was around the time One Life to Love began the Education Program. I received a note one day, written in English, “Ma’am, please help my friend Priya to buy her education tools so she will come back to school. Please Ma’am. She is my best friend and I miss her too much.” Kavita, one of the shyest girls in the school, wrote this note and asked another student to hand it to me.

Thankfully, Priya has such a good friend in Kavita, otherwise we may not have come to know of her need. Priya was able to take her exams, as was the entire school, since we provided them all with the necessary tools. Priya and Kavita are together again, studying, playing and enjoying life as children deserve.

You can help Priya and girls like her continue to study. https://www.mogiv.com/onelifetolove/loveis/

Love is…Giving Her an Education

In India, the road to quality education for girls is filled with obstacles.

In order to reach school and continue their studies, girls have to overcome many challenges that boys simply don’t share because of their gender. Girls either are never sent to school or they drop out before reaching ninth grade.

There are many factors that influence a girl’s education:

  • Have parents who prefer to send their sons to school
  • From poor families who cannot afford to send their children to school
  • Asked by family to care for their younger siblings
  • Attend schools with low number of female teachers
  • Child Marriage
  • Child Labor
  • Feel unsafe traveling the distance between home and school

In response to this dilemma, One Life to Love started an Education Program in 2016, with an aim to educate the girl child. We know that when you educate a girl, you educate her children, her family, her community…her nation.

Today, One Life to Love sponsors the education of 400 underprivileged children, and there are plans to reach 300 more in 2017.

Every one of our students has overcome obstacles to get to where they are today. Anita (photo-center), for instance, has a deep love for animals. She takes care of the street dogs in her locality; feeding them whatever leftovers she collects from neighbors. She dreamed of becoming a veterinarian one day. But as she got older, she started to realize that her dreams were wasted.

Anita happily studied till fifth grade, and then her parents brought home bad news: She would need to quit school and stay home to care for her three younger sisters.

Anita’s Uncle needed surgery, so her parents would need to work long hours to contribute to this expense. She pleaded for them to find another way, but there wasn’t. Her parents tried to console her by explaining that school was “not for her” since she would be married in a few years anyway. This of course only increased Anita’s devastation.

“If you know your what you want in life, but someone tells you it is not possible, then you find it difficult to live,” Anita recalls feeling hopeless and angry those days.

Her anguish, however, did not last long. OL2L heard about Anita’s situation and visited her family. We were able to help them find a very good hospital that would perform the Uncle’s surgery for half the cost. We also helped Anita’s parents realize how important education was for their daughter.

“Now I can focus on my studies. I can even go to college, become a veterinarian so I can help animals. And I will get good pay so I can provide for my family, maybe even send my younger sisters to college, too.”

This February, One Life to Love aims to raise $70,000 in order to continue sponsoring 400 children and expand to reach 300 more children– that’s just $100 per child, per year to provide quality education for an underprivileged girl.

Consider showing her what love is by donating here: https://www.mogiv.com/onelifetolove/loveis

Stay tuned with us this month as we highlight the importance of Girls’ Education and share stories from mothers, teachers, students and leaders on how education is changing the world.

 

 

 

Sunita’s Story

Sunita: “It always seems impossible until it is done”

Sunita, a brilliant 10-year-old girl from Bihar India, was always keen to study. Her father says even before she could speak, Sunita was always interested in books and papers, and anything that had words on it. “She would point and want to know what was written.”

Sadly, Sunita’s family was very poor. When Sunita was only 3 years old, they migrated from Bihar to Delhi in search of work. Sunita’s father struggled a lot to find a job. Many days, he would just work for food to feed his family. It was during this time that Sunita contracted polio. By the time they were able to afford enough money to see a doctor, it was too late. Both of Sunita’s legs were paralyzed as a result of the disease.

However, Sunita was a determined child. She never confined herself to her room, hiding from the public eye. Instead, she tried her best to keep up with the other kids in her area. She was able to crawl very fast and had amazing upper body strength. She would sit with the older children while they did their homework and glean knowledge from them.

When it was her turn to enroll in school, her parents thought it was a hopeless cause. How would she get back and forth? How could she carry her books? But Sunita didn’t give up. She asked several neighbors to help carry her back and forth to school every day, and a few gladly accepted. Sunita was not always the brightest one in class, but she was always the hardest working. She constantly asked questions and paid deep attention to her teachers. She loved going to school. She loved her friends & teachers. And she dreamed of becoming a teacher one day herself.

However, as Sunita got older, it became more and more difficult for her friends to carry her to school. With no way of getting there, Sunita slowly stopped attending her classes.

This led her into a great sadness and she began to wonder what the purpose of her life was. She thought that she would be better off dead. Her parents worried about her future. Their fear was that their daughter would never be able to survive in this world, being that India is not disabled-friendly. “No one would marry her. She cannot even go to school to get educated, so she would never be able to get a job to support herself. She would be vulnerable to abuse and misuse. Her fate was sealed.” Her father said he cried many tears for his daughter, and pleaded with God to help her succeed in life somehow.

When One Life to Love began our education program, the teachers immediately gave us Sunita’s name and address. They pleaded with us to help her come back to school because they knew what a devastating condition she was in. We visited Sunita and her family at their small shanty home where they offered us Chai and rusk. We sat on the cool cement floor and talked about Sunita’s future.

As Sunita’s father shared their struggles, we knew that we could help if even in a small way. A few days later, we were able to provide Sunita with a wheel chair, and informed that we would be paying all of her school fees and providing all her educational needs. Words cannot describe the smile, not only on Sunita’s face, but her father’s as well.

Today, Sunita is attending school regularly with the help of her best friend, Radhika, who voluntarily pushes her back and forth every day. Sunita’s teachers say, “Sunita is succeeding in her studies. She quickly caught up on whatever she missed; we were all astonished. We know this girl will go far in life because of her determination and hard work.”

Thank you, for helping Sunita get back to school where she is blossoming!

Meet Laxmi

Laxmi is 12 years old and dreams of becoming a star football player (or as we Americans like to call it- SOCCER).

Laxmi is the only girl out of six siblings born to very poor parents. She spent the first years of her life in the village. When they experienced a drought, there was barely enough food to feed the family. Laxmi’s father moved them all to the city where he joined the millions of unskilled workers in Delhi trying to make a daily living doing odd jobs.

They struggled a lot in the beginning, some nights they slept on the streets huddled together to stay safe. Thankfully, Laxmi’s father was not into drugs or alcohol, as so many laborers are. Therefore, he was able to save enough to buy a small shanty home.

Laxmi and her brothers then began to attend a government school. Laxmi used to join the boys on the playground playing football. She quickly became a tough competitor for the boys, some who were double her age.

When Laxmi finished 7th grade, she was so excited that she would be able to try out for the school team in the next school term. However, her dream was shattered when her father told her he did not have enough money to continue to send her to school with her brothers.

Laxmi would have to stay home and help her mother with the housework until she was old enough for marriage, then she would go and stay with her husband’s family. A dispiriting future for such an enthusiastic and lively young girl.

It was around this time that One Life to Love started the Education Program for underprivileged girls. We talked with Laxmi’s father, who was happy that we could cover his daughter’s education expenses so that she could continue studying.

Laxmi tried out for the school team and made first cut! With our help, she was also able to join a recreational league. Her coaches say she is a promising player, and may even be able to try out for state level in a couple years.

Laxmi has an infectious smile. She is humble, sweet, and motivated to play her heart out on the field. She is so grateful for this opportunity, knowing that it is only because of people like you that she is able to pursue her dream.