During the course of our NGO site visits, the group observed a sequence of amazingly productive organizations working in Tamil Nadu, South India. From areas encompassing sustainable forestry and organic farming to village empowerment projects working mainly with the untouchable community, women and children, I felt each organization had something extremely valuable to offer through a two week internship during my brief stay in Auroville. This one special children’s home, however, left a lasting imprint and I was instantly moved to work and become a part of “Melquie’s” beloved SALT.
My first encounter with the home ironically took place in the evening, the first impression enveloped with the unpreventable darkness of rural India night sky. The sun collapsing behind a gold encrusted Tamil horizon, it was not long before I would need to remove my pink colored headlamp from my handbag as its replacement to comfortably move around the property. As we sauntered through the rooms I began to notice the house was merely a skeleton for these orphaned twenty-five boys, a place very different from the home in which I was raised back in Texas.
Rickety shelves here and there with random small piles of children’s belongings upon them – clothes, books, and a few toys stacked in a disheveled manner. The walls were bare and without paint, made of cement and chipped in various places of every room. The floors even barer if this could be possible. As I saw no beds, blankets, or pillows I realized the boys were using torn straw mats for sleeping on the cold cement floors of the home.
The director, a charismatic middle-aged single man, introduced himself as the father to each of these children. I have never felt so much love by one man for a cause. Some of the children dashed and darted with obvious excitement among members of the group as we walked within the home, others stood and observed intently, huge glowing smiles upon each of their faces. I couldn’t help but smile back at them.
By Michelle McAdam