There are so, so many stories to tell you about our girls, their life before, their life with us, and their life after being with us. Here are just a few of our success stories:
Reena was six years old when she was brought to Home of Hope in 2005. She and her mother, a mentally ill woman, came to Kerala from Bhopal and were begging on the streets. Reena fell into the hands of the beggar mafia; one of them blinded her left eye and severely damaged her right eye by poking a darning needle into them. This cruel act was done in order to make her a “better” beggar. Thankfully, she was rescued and brought to the sisters who took her to an eye clinic. Sadly, the nerves were irreparably damaged. Even with what has happened in her past, and with her limited vision, Reena has grown into a happy child at Home of Hope. She is now a teenager and helpful to all the girls, especially the newcomers, who may have a difficult time adjusting. She is a delight to all at the orphanage.
Mahalakshmi arrived at our Kochi orphanage in 2005 accompanied by a staff member of CHILDLINE, who had found her at the Ernakulum City Railway station, standing alone bewildered not knowing where to go. She had become lost, begging with her mother. Because her mother was a prostitute, Mahalakshmi would soon be offered as a child prostitute. Reaching the orphanage, the sisters gave her a good bath put on clean clothes, and served her a healthy lunch. She immediately appeared different and felt happier. But the second day, she ran off and the police brought her back as she was standing at the bus stop, begging. Sr. Lorencia, who is now over 90 years old, took special care of the child. Mahalakshmi formed a strong bond with Sr. Lorencia, who she called “Ammachi”. The relationship grew so strong that she actually asked sister accompany her for begging, promising to share what they could beg and even some “Indian liquor”. Sr. Lorencia patiently talked with her and succeeded in encouraging her that she should give up begging and become a teacher instead. She is now a teenager and working toward that goal. Everyday she gets blessings from her “Ammachi”, giving her a loving kiss.
We can tell you so many stories about the heartbreaking backgrounds of the girls in our orphanages, but we are especially proud to report that well over 100 girls from our Homes of Hope have graduated from high school and are now pursuing courses in higher education and specific careers. We are especially proud of Pinky Nurani, who has earned a postgraduate degree in nursing and has a special heart for the poor.
Other girls work in offices, for the airlines, some have started their own small business such as wedding planning and graphic design. These are tremendous accomplishments for girls who have overcome so many obstacles to succeed.
In our schools, which educate the poorest of the poor, our students are going on to higher education and good jobs. And, one of our girls, Sindhu Pusarla V., won an Olympic silver medal in badminton in 2016. When Paul Wilkes met her at our school in Secunderabad, she had won a local competition…but as she learned in school, she must aim higher and higher.
And not only are our girls moving on to higher education at various institutions, they are moving out. Here is our Laura, a beautiful bride at the age of 23, a perfect example of what Salesian education can mean. The sisters’ goal is to form them as educated, moral, independent young women. Laura was brought to the sisters at the age of three and was one of the first orphan children at Home of Hope. She has a degree in secretarial practice and is now launched in her new life; her husband, Cleetus, is a mechanic with a good job in the Middle East, where many Indians work because of the higher pay.