The Little Girl I Didn’t Bring Home


The little girl I didn’t bring home

My goal is to help Aunty’s Home to be a better place, where Aunty can take care of the children who look to her for love, comfort, and food.   I sat there, holding this child a long time, talking to her (she doesn’t speak) and trying to define better my personal mission here as well as Shishur Sevay’s.

It came down to responsibilities, and cold decisions that are hard to openly admit.  Right now I do not have a second-in-command.  If I get sick, or die, Shishur Sevay will have to struggle through with some emergency plans we do have in place.  The place will continue, but the course may be rocky in terms of administration.  My goal for the last year was to identify who would do each of the things I do in the course of the day.  I’ve had two people I thought would last, potential administrators, but they did not work out.   So decisions I make today seriously affect the future of Shishur Sevay.  This child will never walk, talk, or be able to care for herself.  We have four children like that, truly our beloved choto bacchas (small children).  K, who I took on Christmas Eve, can walk, talk, feed herself, go to the toilet.  She will one day be independent. Second, Dr. Michelle Harrison, and Shishur Sevay cannot be an answer to the government’s refusal to take seriously the needs of orphans, especially those with multiple disabilities.  I am at Aunty’s orphanage helping because this IS my concern, the care of orphans.  What I can do is to give medical and health guidance to her home.  I’m not licensed in India so I walk a fine line.  (I do function as if someone is paying attention to such things, as I feel vulnerable).  Aunty has several children in the hospital, and this child as well as others will be going into the hospital for a period of evaluation.  As official medical advisor I will be following up with in-hospital visits, and discussions with doctors. Third, the girls at Shishur Sevay really do care about other orphans, about the poor, about those with disabilities.  I want them to learn how to care for these children.  It’s an opportunity for the girls who cannot, or will not study.  This work gives them meaning.  And, in my idealistic world of tomorrow, even my idealistic India, people will be needed who know the job, but even more, those who care.     The fundamental problem with Aunty’s home is that the government is almost one year in arrears.  Without pay, staff stops coming.  Without staff, the children with profound disabilities don’t eat.  Feeding them is very time-consuming.  At Shishur Sevay I have four people feeding four children.  Lunch is from 1-2:30 because it takes that long to feed them, put them on potty chairs, and bathe them.  Aunty has 1-2 people for seven children who cannot feed themselves.  Her older boys help out, but it takes training to feed these children so they don’t choke.  That’s what we have been doing the last three days, feeding and bathing.

Aunty loves these children.  Love is not enough, but neither is food enough.  The government has told her that money will be coming shortly.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joyce Godwin Grubbs
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 15:03:31

    I would quickly admit that during my years supplying housing and shelter for the homeless, it was always a heart wrenching decision to include/exclude some from my project: especially knowing that there was “no where else” but the streets for them to go. Like you, the government was “there” but not there”. The money was “there” but not “there”. In the years since that effort, little has changed. We still mark the beginning of winter by the first frozen body found.

    My heart aches to know of the little ones in your care,. and the pain in your heart for them. Twenty-eight years of letters from Dr. Galloway about his mission in Africa keep one aware that the pain and suffering is world wide and to the shame of our people, even this, one of the richest nations in the world.

    I just want to assure you that those of us who have been in the trenches where you are know you are doing everything humanly possible in this effort, and that sadly it is a lonely and non-ending battle. Not even death frees us in our minds as we are aware of the “things undone and not accomplished”. It is only in knowing that like when Jerry died, someone followed, and hopefully someone will follow them.

    If 2012 could give us hope, it would be by seeing our world’s people turn to service to others, and paying ” it forward” in their lives. Perhaps this is the promise of our worldwide economic threats and challenges. To remind people many of us are a paycheck away from being on the “needing” edge of society and that “to whom much is given, much is required.”

    I shall be sharing this and spreading the word, and if that is the least we do with your letters/posts, then it is something. Perhaps in the sharing, hearts will be touched. BUT DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION, my friends.

    God bless Michelle, for sharing and being there, and for knowing the needs you and your work have, yet advocating for the Aunty.


  2. Dr. Michelle Harrison
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 20:49:42

    Thank you Joyce. It’s funny how much Jerry is back in my thoughts. Long ago I decided there were two reasons to do things: First is that you might be successful; second is that it’s too terrible not to try.

    Thank you for spreading these posts. I want these children to be visible, to be heard. I also want them to have food and love, of course. As for thinking about death, I just hope I get a good assignment!!!!!


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December 2011
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