It was a short walk. Tight concrete homes lined each side of the dirt street. The moment at the end of this walk, I would remember for the rest of my life, and I knew it. It’s strange: the anticipation. Almost hard, because I didn’t want to place expectation on what was to come. I wanted it to be, what it would be. Yet, my heart beat faster. I felt it pound inside my chest, and I smiled to myself, in an effort to relax, and concentrated on the crunch sound my feet made on the dirt as I walked.
“This way, this way,” someone said to me in English.
Next thing, I was greeted with a marigold flower necklace and a hands-together-slight-bow “Namaste” greeting.
“This is his mother.”
“Namaste.” I greeted her the same way she greeted me. We still stood in the street.
I’m not sure what happened next. There were people everywhere, gathering around me, pressing on each side in an effort to see the foreigners. I must have been ushered down an alley way, and then all of a sudden he was there. I saw him.
He looked the age and height of my own son, yet instead of blue eyes, they were brown. Oh-so-brown. Not blond hair, but dark. His skin was like warm chocolate. His was just beautiful!
This is Lucky.
I crouched down, so he and I were on the same level. I forced myself to wait, even though I wanted to gather him up in a warm hug. He looked shy, but not frightened. I slowly held out my hand. He put his into mine. Incredible, right there. Incredible.
Lucky is my sponsor child and my heart was glad for the opportunity to meet him. What a privilege! Our family have sponsored a child for many years. Her name is Victoria. I wanted to sponsor another child because it’s a special part of our family life and we are so fortunate in Australia.
I’ve never felt more fortunate than I do right now. Lucky, some would say, yes? I hope to hold on to this grateful feeling…and not just gratefulness, but the belief in empowering others where they are, in who they are, and what they can be. I’ve seen this, with my own eyes.
I don’t know how long I stayed crouched down with Lucky, as I was unaware of what was going on around me. I was, in a way, time locked. I guess in my sub-concious, I knew I needed to be fully present in these moments. Later, Misho showed me this picture of how many people were rather around us in the narrow alley way (there is a short video clip here too).
Lucky lives in Chhattinsgarh, India, with only his mother, as his father died. My heart went out to the duo. After the initial chatter, I gave Lucky a few fun things, like a yo-yo, and stickers. I showed him a picture of my own son on my iPhone and talked to his mother about my children and said how glad I was to meet her.
Little trinkets. Small talk. Seems petty, in a way, considering the need of children just like Lucky. Yet, I’ve seen with my own eyes, the difference child sponsorship makes, not only to one child, but to entire communities. Everywhere I went, the people I met, they beamed with light and hope when talking about World Vision and the staff. I’ve never seen so much need, yet so much hope, entwined together. Encouraged, I am. It feels good, very good, to be part of this.
I’ll never, ever forget the walk back to the car. It was hard to leave, because I love Lucky and his mother. I do. I find it easy to love. I love them, and yet I may never have the opportunity to see them again. I said goodbye, looking at Lucky, just one last time, and I began the walk back to the car. I didn’t look back.
Then, I felt a small hand close to mine and I looked down. It was Lucky. I held his hand in mine. Even though there was intense hustle around me, it was a quiet touch, like a whisper in a loud room.
It was a short walk. I didn’t notice the tight concrete homes lined each side of the dirt street this time. I didn’t feel the crunch of the dirt under my feet. I don’t really remember anything expect the feel of Lucky’s hand in mine, and the mixed emotion of immense joy, incredible privilege, with a touch of sadness.
After a way, I looked over at Lucky’s mum who had come up beside me. She grabbed my free hand and spoke in words I didn’t understand. Her other hand, the one not holding mine, flew up near her heart as she talked and I nodded. I knew what she was saying, even though the words sounded strange…because I felt it.
We walked just like this: hand in hand — Lucky on one side, and his mother on the other side — until I reached the car.
Hello, goodbye; moment and minutes. Emotion, people, connection, love. Compassion. Giving, living; do what you can, where you can, when you can, how you can. Respect. Look up, and around. Notice people and see into their eyes. Be present. Feel. Look for opportunities. And be brave! Be kind. Always, live in hope. I’m throwing all these words, because all this, was in a short walk in the slums.
Misho took this picture as I reached over to Lucky as he leaned into the car, right before we drove away. That final touch. The last look. Goodbye Lucky, for now. I’ll find you in my prayers.
Become a Child Sponsor Too
I’m a huge fan of child sponsorship — oh it’s a wonderful thing — and if you’re interested to find out more, head over to the World Vision website
Carly Jacobs from Smaggle took the first picture (thank you Carly). The remainder of the photographs were taken by Misho Baranovic. Misho does such inspiring work and you can follow him on Instragram at MishoBaranovic.