Its time for sweets! Joash - one of the young guns in our church fellowship - and all-round nice guy got into St. Xaviers college - his first choice and dream. The pedas (some of the best I have tasted) were dropped off by his Mother as he wanted to make sure that the whole JSK team celebrated along with him. Joash has volunteered with us for the latter part of his summer holidays - and has made friends all round in the JSK team.
We were just about to have our weekly meeting - a time where we review what went on during the week. One of the high-lights is each team sharing who their five most needy families are - folks who are most on the brink - and need our inputs urgently.
One of heart-rending ones we heard today was of a young girl who is the lynch-pin around which her family turns. Both her parents have HIV. Her mother has a stroke and is 1/2 paralyzed and barely able to speak. Her father is notorious for hitting the bottle. And hitting others. And being hit. Last year his arm was broken during a drunken fight. Her three younger siblings look to this girl, who we will call Reshma.
In all this misery, Reshma is still in school. This year she is plunging into her 10th standard - at the end of which are the dreaded SSC exams. Joash spent the year studying for it. Today we celebrated the fruits of his success - an admission to college considered the best for studying the 'arts' stream in India. Reshma yearns to study - and is deeply frustrated because she finds herself unable to hit the books. The demands of the home, of feeding and cleaning and looking after the broken dysfunctional family she is in seem overwhelming.
What do you even tell this brave girl? We have tried to come along side her and encourage her. Her mother is getting some physiotherapy through our staff visits to the home. We have tried and continue to try and engage her father. Our staff helped her father get anti-retroviral medications from the government - but recently found out that he has not been taking them He goes once a month and picks up Rs. 1200 worth of drugs - free - from the govt. centre - and has been bringing them home and stashing them in a cupboard - but not swallowing what could be life-saving meds.
That's why we talk it out at our Friday afternoon meetings. We talk and pray. This next week offers another chance. Another set of small doors that may open into the corridor of hope for brave girls like Reshma.
Can we dream that Reshma will bring us sweets next year at this time? Can we put our dream into reality?