At the end of 2010, we asked our donors to help us build a home for children whose parents were murdered in the 2008 attack against Christians in Orissa, India. The deadly riots that claimed the lives of more than 100 Christians and forced more than 50,000 to flee their homes has many Christians in Orissa still reeling.
This year, thanks to your gifts, we launched an orphanage to take in at-risk children who lost one or both of their parents in this tragedy. One of the children we took in was Gracy (left) – a young girl whose father was captured and brutally beaten by a mob of Hindu radicals during the 2008 riots. Though he initially survived the attack, he succumbed to his injuries and died weeks later in a relief camp. After her father’s death, her mother left Gracy and her siblings with relatives and never returned.
Gracy and the other children in our orphanage are being cared for by two Christian families who not only take care of their basic needs, but love and nurture them and teach them about the love of Christ.
The picture above was taken when Gracy first entered our orphanage, and the picture at right was taken just recently. You can see a remarkable difference in Gracy’s countenance!
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“Hello, my name is Tai Chi Poh, I am 13 years old, I am from Burma. I came here with my younger brother and sister. My mother died of some disease, she was very weak, and I remember she died in the jungle while we were in hiding. There were no doctors or medicines to save her. I can remember that we needed to cross many rivers and mountains. We walked and walked, and then we took a boat and then climbed the mountain again to come here. I come from a Christian family. I still have a father and a baby sister in Burma. My father and baby sister are still in hiding, my father hopes to get back to our village to take care of our farm.’ [The last thing my father said to me was,] ‘Save yourself and your siblings, this might be the last time we see each other here on earth, if so, we will see each other in heaven.’”
Tai Chi Poh related this story to a caretaker in our orphanage in Thailand where we have taken in Burmese children who have been orphaned by the ongoing war between the Burmese junta and the indigenous people groups of Burma, many of whom are Christians. Our caretaker told us that his eyes filled with tears as recalled the last words of his father, but that the next morning she awoke at 4:30am to hear Tai Chi Poh singing “hallelujah” outside of their hut as he prepared for church.
These children are so young, yet have already experienced so many horrors in life – it is hard to imagine how they manage to survive. Yet they are wise beyond their years and filled with the hope that only Jesus can give. In the safety of this home, Burmese children like Tai Chi Poh are being given an opportunity to live as children ought to live – playing, laughing, growing, and above all, learning about the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Recently, a friend of ICC’s traveled to this orphanage and witnessed some of our Special Blessings gift boxes being delivered to these children (these are gifts from our supporters and donors). He told me that these children were so excited to receive these gifts that they immediately began a trading system with each other – bartering dolls for toy trucks and yo-yo’s for costume jewelry. They played with their new toys, shared openly with each other, and showed off to one another. I am happy to realize that it doesn’t matter what hardships a child has experienced in life – when it comes down to it, children are still children, and will find ways to enjoy their childhood as much as they can.
In Burma, as in many other places throughout the world, children are being targeted for violence, kidnappings, and even forced military service – and Christian children are often especially vulnerable. Jesus promised His followers that in life we will experience many hardships and trials, but to hold fast to our faith, as He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We need to teach these children to remain steadfast in their faith, and to do whatever is within our means to protect them from such persecution – for childhood is precious, and once it’s been taken away, it can never be returned.