The Christmas season hits New York City with spectacular lights and holiday bustle and I undoubtedly find myself engulfed with a new sense of joy and wonder. However this year is slightly different. As Hope for India celebrates her first year anniversary, my heart goes back to our orphan siblings in the slums of India. I try to imagine what this season looks like for them in light of their circumstances.
It causes me to reevaluate the things that I hold dear to me as a proud American. I admit that I feel a hint of sadness to see more homeless people huddling on street corners to keep warm, to be caught in the mad rush at Times Square in the middle of the shopping frenzy, to hear that the rate of depression reaches it’s height in my city during this time of the year, and to read the news of a man being stampeded to death by greedy Wal-Mart shoppers in Long Island. It all seems so frugal to me when I consider the Dalits of India who have lost much through pain, and hold firmly to hope just to get through another year.
Given the recent events in India, I am reminded that our quest to bring hope to the poorest of the poor has only just begun. Yes, the news that has flooded through our media over the last four months is all too true. Let me give you a summery… The death of a Hindu swami led to the gruesome persecution of Christians in Orissa over the summer. The images of burnt bodies and churches have haunted me since. Then came the bombings in Delhi and Bangalore. My friends from Karnataka sent distressing news shortly after of churches being forced to shut down, in addition to the arrest and murders of ministers whose only crime was to stand up for their faith. As if that is not enough, the terrorist attacks on Mumbai that are occurring as I write this are shocking.
When I look at the past year and our gradual development, I am convinced that we are being prepared to tackle something big ahead of us. Since the start of the Caleb Hope Foundation, we have been able to sponsor several destitute children providing them with care and the opportunity for education. We have also had several fundraisers in New York City, featuring Broadway performers at the Metropolitan room to a highly successful Halloween Party in the East village. As President Elect Barak Obama has conveyed to our generation, it is the era of change, and watching the artists and professionals in my community rally together to bring change to the poor give me hope.
We continue to build our team with a solid group of visionaries and passionate individuals working steadily towards our non-profit status and the big picture. On January 10, 2009, I will be taking a team of 8 individuals back to North India to serve in the slums. Once again, we will take only the bare necessities and experience the culture of the Dalit community. The funds we have raised will allow us to paint a school for the physically handicapped children, provide blankets and supplies to the destitute elderly, support our orphan brothers and sisters in their pursuit for a better life, and allow us to provide a leper colony with one year’s supply of food and medicines.
I realize that the big question arises in your mind as you read this. “Is it safe to go at a time like this?” We will be traveling to a safe portion of India. We plan to stay away from tourist attractions and large city areas that could be target for danger. Each individual prepares to travel boldly into the neglected parts of India because of a strong call placed within our hearts. We trust God to protect us, and we covert your prayers to carry us through our two week mission. I am humbled at the thought of journeying with some of America’s own remarkable individuals, ones whose mission in life is to bring hope and change to those in need.
As you celebrate this Christmas and herald the dawning of 2009, I ask you to remember “Hope For India”, our team, our ongoing fundraising endeavors, and my destitute children in India whose laughter give me reason to press forward. May you be reminded of the reason of this season. I wish you joy, prosperity, and above all HOPE.