Series Code: HIM
Program Code: HIM000029
00:13 In this episode of Hope in Motion
00:15 we go to Bobbili, India where blind children find solace
00:19 in the Asian Aid School for the Blind.
00:21 As the new children walk inside,
00:23 this really is a small heaven
00:25 where they feel that they are safe and secure.
00:28 We meet a local washer man family
00:31 whose poor socioeconomic life was compounded
00:34 when their third child was born blind.
00:38 When he goes into the street other children made fun of him.
00:41 He is blind, God made him that way, what can we do.
00:45 And find out how sponsorship is helping the Asian Aid School
00:48 for the Blind prepare children for eternity.
00:51 The faith of a blind child cannot be explained,
00:57 you need to come and feel it.
01:13 Asian Aid is an organization giving hope,
01:16 an organization fostering permanent positive change
01:19 in the lives of disadvantage children and their communities.
01:22 An organization that is committed
01:25 to making a difference in the lives of children
01:27 and those who are in need.
01:29 Serving communities in Nepal, Bangladesh,
01:32 Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India.
01:42 For the last 40 years Asian Aid
01:45 has invested in the futures of people
01:47 and their investment has proven infinite returns.
01:51 Driven by their dedication
01:53 to helping those who have the least.
01:55 Asian Aid is an organization
01:57 focused on the welfare of children,
02:00 implementing diverse development projects
02:02 and sponsoring thousands of children.
02:05 Their outreach spans from child rescue operations
02:08 to providing an education for orphans,
02:11 deaf and the blind children.
02:14 Giving them a sense of place, a home
02:17 but above all Asian Aid is an organization giving hope,
02:21 giving hope to children, giving hope to communities,
02:25 giving hope to the ones who needed the most.
02:28 This is Hope in Motion.
02:57 Situated amidst the lush green paddy fields
03:00 of Bobbili, in Andhra Pradesh, India
03:02 is an institution that is home to
03:04 some of the most disadvantaged children in society.
03:06 This is the Asian Aid School for the Blind.
03:11 In a world where blindness is considered a curse
03:13 and blind children are abandoned,
03:15 this campus is a refuge
03:17 for children seeking care and comfort.
03:21 The Asian Aid School for the Blind
03:23 was established here mainly by the efforts
03:25 of Asian Aid co-founder Helen Eager.
03:28 The Asian Aid School for the Blind is very important to me
03:31 because actually I did find that
03:35 we were supporting a few blind children up in Jharkhand
03:39 and they were being supported by someone in the US
03:41 and I thought, oh, this is so wonderful,
03:43 I'm so glad our church is doing something for the blind.
03:46 And then I went home to Australia
03:48 and then I got a letter just few weeks later saying
03:53 this person in US is no longer supporting
03:55 these children so we sent them all home.
03:56 So that was basically the start of a blind program.
04:01 I said, well, bring them all back
04:03 and we supported them there in Jharkhand
04:05 and then we started the blind school
04:09 actually in Andhra Pradesh.
04:10 It is quite natural everyone wants to help children
04:16 and people who are normal but to find someone
04:20 who has got a lot of interest in the children
04:23 who are visually impaired, it is very rare to find.
04:27 And that is a time I think God has correctly selected
04:30 Mrs. Helen Eager to be a part
04:33 of this great big project in India.
04:37 Started with just a few children at its new location
04:40 in Bobbili the number of children at the school
04:42 steadily increased each passing year.
04:45 All things bright and beautiful
04:49 The Lord God made them all
04:54 We discovered that there are various circumstances
04:56 that have contributed to these children losing their sight.
04:59 Some of them are victims of accidents,
05:01 some due to vitamin deficiency
05:03 factored by lack of nutritious food,
05:05 but most of them are born blind.
05:07 We found that the main reason children are born blind
05:10 in these parts of Andhra Pradesh
05:12 is due to socioeconomic practice
05:14 that is prevalent in this cultures.
05:16 We have found that with the children that we support
05:20 in the blind school that nearly all of them,
05:22 the parents are blood relatives.
05:24 Now the reason they do this is basically poverty as well.
05:28 Because if there is, you know, a small piece of land
05:31 they don't want that piece of land
05:33 to leave the family kind of thing.
05:36 And so they will often--
05:38 it's often uncles marrying their nieces.
05:41 And of course if your daughter marries a relative
05:47 then you don't have to pay a dowry.
05:49 The relatives are very much concerned
05:52 about the ancestor property that comes.
05:55 So they want to have the marriage
05:57 right within the family close relations
06:00 and this is one of the possible reasons
06:03 that makes a child go blind or born blind
06:07 or somewhere in the later part of his life.
06:12 While rural traditions and socioeconomic difficulties
06:15 dictate life in rural India, their children pay the price.
06:19 Cultural issues are hard to understand,
06:22 it may even seem bizarre and cruel at times,
06:24 it's difficult to change people's perceptions
06:26 that are rooted deep.
06:28 But for all its traditions and practices,
06:30 the fact remains that all parents love their children
06:33 and want the best for them.
06:35 It's very difficult for you as a caring parent
06:39 to find a way of giving your child a better life.
06:43 So not only are we making a difference for the child,
06:48 we are actually giving the parents some hope,
06:52 they all care for their child.
06:54 And they overcome with guilt and community pressure
07:00 because their child is blind.
07:03 So it helps overcome all these issues
07:06 in giving the child a chance, but giving the parents hope
07:12 that they simply have no other way of getting.
07:15 Blind children from many backgrounds are at the school,
07:18 although there are students from other states,
07:21 the majority of them are from and around Bobbili area.
07:27 Jagan is a ninth grade student at the school.
07:30 He comes from a small village,
07:32 about an hour's drive from the school.
07:34 We have Jagan whose family background is
07:38 that the parents are washer men and they wash clothes
07:42 and they survive and earn their livelihood.
07:46 But this child the moment he has come here to our campus,
07:50 he has been getting his education
07:52 and all that family history
07:56 that has been coming all that will disappear.
07:59 He will not be the same anymore.
08:13 Jagan's parents are dhobis, a washer men community.
08:16 In a class divided world
08:18 they are at the bottom of the social structure
08:21 and are pushed to the edge of the village.
08:27 When my first son was born I was happy.
08:30 My second son was born and I was very happy.
08:34 But when my third child was born
08:36 my wife and I became very depressed.
08:41 As if living at the edge of the village wasn't bad enough,
08:44 their hardship was compounded
08:46 when their third child Jagan was born blind.
08:51 I am a dhobi, I go to the pond in the morning
08:54 and come back in the evening.
08:56 He was left alone at home.
08:58 When he goes into the street other children made fun of him.
09:02 This is how he spent his childhood here.
09:04 He is blind, God made him that way, what can we do.
09:08 In rural villages where being handicapped is considered
09:11 a curse, blind children facing uncertain future.
09:15 This is where Asian Aid School for the Blind in Bobbili
09:18 serves as a refuge for children born blind.
09:21 These children have very special needs.
09:25 Their needs are even greater than people who have--
09:28 who do not have sight in a western system,
09:31 in a first world country.
09:32 Because they are ostracized, their families are ostracized.
09:36 So creating this environment
09:37 their focus is on them gives them an education
09:41 and gives them an opportunity to live a normal life.
09:44 It's so transformational
09:46 not just now for the child but the parents,
09:48 because now they don't have the same stigma.
09:51 Their children can get on and live a productive life
09:54 and contribute to society, a huge difference.
09:59 This environment that gave them an opportunity
10:01 to live a normal life is indeed transformational.
10:05 With the help of a local school teacher,
10:07 Jagan was brought to the school for the blind in Bobbili
10:11 far away from the struggles of his parents and his community.
10:14 And this community that we find they are the lowest of the low
10:20 and Jagan I think the education that he receives
10:24 releases him from this kind of family bondage
10:30 and makes him to survive on this earth
10:32 as a prestigious person thinking that
10:37 I'm now something worth and feel proud of himself.
10:42 I'm so happy he is studying there at the school.
10:45 When he gets a good education he will get a good job.
10:48 I'm really happy about that.
10:49 Now he can become whatever he wishes to be in life.
10:53 The appreciation from these parents sometimes
10:58 is just overpowering because they are so proud
11:02 that their child can go to the school
11:04 and they are so proud that when their child comes home,
11:08 they can see a dramatic difference.
11:10 Okay, read that first adding.
11:12 First adding, sir. Twenty four thousand.
11:16 Twenty four thousand.
11:17 Asian Aid sponsors every child
11:18 living and studying at the school.
11:20 Without sponsorship these children would not have
11:23 the opportunity for new chance in life.
11:25 I really thank the Asian Aid sponsors, the donors.
11:31 If it may not-- if the sponsorship
11:33 is not there my life will be not there.
11:40 Today Asian Aid is supporting
11:42 nearly a 180 blind children at the school
11:45 and their sponsorship is the key link in driving force
11:48 that helps them overcome their disabilities
11:50 and gives them hope and a chance for a better life.
11:54 The Asian Aid School for the Blind in Bobbili
11:56 is an important institution for the mission
11:58 of the Seventh-day Adventist church in India.
12:01 When we come back, we look at how the school's
12:03 is not only preparing these children for a world outside
12:06 but also preparing them for eternity.
12:09 The faith of a blind child cannot be explained,
12:15 you need to come and feel it.
12:32 My wife Angela and I are here in Andhra Pradesh, India,
12:36 visiting some of the Asian Aid projects to see for ourselves
12:39 how the work that is being done here is transforming lives
12:43 especially lives of orphaned children and abandoned children
12:47 children from the tribal communities.
12:49 And we've discovered that because of sponsors like you,
12:52 they now have a place that they can call home.
12:54 They have wonderful clothing, nutritious food
12:57 and they are being prepared to propel themselves
13:00 into the future for a promising career.
13:03 But above all that because of sponsors like you
13:06 they now have hope, hope for a better future.
13:23 Well, I am here in Sunrise Home with Sheela.
13:26 Now my family and I have been sponsoring Sheela
13:28 for just about a year now
13:30 and I can tell you being here and spending time with her,
13:33 I can see the difference
13:34 that sponsorship is making in her life.
13:37 She now has plenty of food, she has a beautiful place
13:40 to sleep each night, she has clothes,
13:42 she has a school uniform and an excellent education.
13:45 I can tell you it's made a difference in her life
13:48 and it's made a difference in our lives too.
13:51 Now through sponsorship you too can make
13:53 a difference in the life of a child everyday.
14:20 Today is a special day for the staff and students
14:22 of Asian Aid School for the Blind in Bobbili, India.
14:25 Standing on both sides of the entrance,
14:27 the students and staff welcome
14:29 the arrival of a special guest Garwin McNeilus.
14:34 Garwin in an Adventist businessman from Minnesota
14:37 who has sponsored hundreds of children in India.
14:39 He and his family has supported and built a number of urgently
14:42 needed buildings for Adventist schools
14:44 including the school for the blind at Bobbili.
14:48 The needs of the blind school
14:49 were first brought to me by Helen Eager.
14:53 And Helen showed a video of where they were,
14:56 the conditions they were and how they had to take
14:59 their sleeping mattresses out, lay them outside,
15:05 sometimes it's raining, put the desk in have their class
15:09 and it made an impression
15:12 that just wouldn't go away on my heart.
15:16 Moved by the plight of the children
15:18 in an old crowed building in town,
15:20 Garwin drew out a plan to move them
15:22 to a bigger campus just outside Bobbili town.
15:25 He also designed the buildings.
15:27 This is beautifully designed
15:30 for the blind children who cannot see.
15:33 And once they get inside they take a single walk.
15:37 They can easily understand which side is a boy's hostel,
15:40 which side is a girl's hostel,
15:42 there is nothing to be confused.
15:48 The children now have a beautiful campus
15:50 where they can feel safe and secure,
15:52 their own home away from home.
15:56 The Asian Aid School for the Blind is not just
15:58 an institution that provides food and shelter for the blind,
16:01 but it's an institution that prepares them
16:03 for the world outside.
16:04 And remember when they finish year 12
16:06 for example I'm talking about the sight impaired children,
16:11 they can go into university and by giving them
16:13 these opportunities they can get jobs that are already there
16:17 that government has set aside
16:18 for people with these sort of disabilities.
16:21 So we are channeling them, giving them the skills,
16:24 giving them the qualifications, preparing them for employment
16:28 but also we are giving them life skills.
16:34 Yes, sir.
16:35 These children may not have the ability to see
16:38 but this disability has not deprived them
16:40 of the ability to learn.
16:41 They are perfectly capable of acquiring skills
16:44 needed for employment.
16:45 In fact, the Indian government referred to them
16:47 not as disabled but differently abled.
16:50 And the Asian Aid School for the Blind provides them
16:52 an ideal place for these differently abled children
16:54 to acquire skills.
16:58 Special needs children need special care
17:01 and the staff and teachers of the school deeply respect
17:04 and care for these children.
17:05 The school also has two specialized educators
17:08 Bhaskar and Raghavendra.
17:11 My name is Raghavendra and I've been working
17:14 in this school from three years onwards.
17:16 By birth onwards I'm blind.
17:17 Because of this-- because of school
17:20 like this I have received an education
17:22 and I'm able to come here and teach to this children.
17:26 So I'm feeling very happy
17:28 and because Asian Aid has given this opportunity to me,
17:33 I'm really thankful to Asian Aid
17:36 for this great opportunity.
17:39 And these two teachers since they are blind,
17:42 they can understand the other children
17:44 who are visually handicapped.
17:46 Their feelings, their thoughts
17:48 and they have their own innovative ways
17:51 where they can help them and try to support them
17:55 whenever there is a difficultly that they find.
17:58 And these two teachers
17:59 are really a blessing to the school.
18:01 I think the most important thing is that,
18:04 that the people who work with these children really love them
18:07 and care about them and try to understand,
18:10 you know, what they are going through
18:11 and somehow try to understand although I don't think we can,
18:15 you know, what would be like to be in their situation.
18:24 The blind community understands each other
18:26 and they are there to help one and another.
18:28 This helping nature helps anyone coming into the campus
18:32 for the first time adjust quickly
18:33 to this new environment.
18:35 We all remember Priyansu from one of our previous episodes.
18:39 We have one boy Priyansu who walked into the campus
18:42 along with his parents and the boy began to cry
18:46 and he began to think what's happening to me?
18:48 Are my parents going to leave me and go away?
18:50 But I can see the way he came inside little bit disturbed
18:54 because he has to live all alone now.
18:57 So he comes here to the campus
18:58 and then he stays with the children
19:00 and I've been noticing him
19:02 and days have passed by he slowly began to get adjusted.
19:05 So this is what happens when a child walks inside
19:09 and he gets adjusted along with his friends.
19:11 Friends are there, other blind children
19:14 who share their happiness and sadness.
19:17 And as the new children walk inside
19:20 this really is a small heaven
19:22 where they feel that they are safe and secure.
19:41 Priyansu has been at the blind school for two years now
19:44 and is surrounded by friends who give him comfort
19:46 and support and has well adjusted to his new home.
19:57 While we were chatting with Pastor Paulson at the school,
19:59 he revealed to us some thing momentous.
20:02 This Asian Aid High School for the Blind
20:06 has started in the year 2004 in March 21st
20:10 and this year it so happened that it is a tenth year.
20:15 Ten glorious years have passed by successfully.
20:20 And it so happened, Garwin McNeilus
20:22 was visiting the school after 10 years.
20:25 How do you feel coming back 10 years later?
20:28 We discover that it's a tenth anniversary.
20:30 Yes. And you have come back.
20:32 How do you feel about what you see?
20:34 Ten years goes fast but I lived
20:38 the blind school daily in my mind.
20:41 The campus is beautiful,
20:43 the area where there were no trees, trees are grown.
20:47 Fruit is being produced, the children are having gardens
20:52 and I see happy children, I see a campus
20:58 that's united in love for the children.
21:05 It's gratifying but I know that this all is impossible
21:10 without individual sponsors.
21:14 Without individual sponsorship
21:16 these children would not be here.
21:18 Today because of Asian Aid sponsorship program
21:21 and individual supporting its program,
21:23 hundreds of differently able children
21:25 like Priyansu, Jagan can receive an education,
21:29 an education that will help them to lead a dignified life.
21:32 I went to all the sponsors and donors
21:35 who have been helping us out
21:37 and the Adventist church at large around the world.
21:41 I'm always thankful for their support
21:45 for the children who get their pre-education here.
21:48 Every pie that you give has been utilized
21:53 to the maximum for the benefit of the children
21:55 to get their education and we are always grateful
21:58 and thankful for the whole Adventist church
22:02 and the Asian Aid
22:04 and I'm sure that they have a great big reward
22:08 for the small little contribution to make
22:10 when we all get together in heaven.
22:13 Whether one is able to contribute
22:15 in a small way or in a big way,
22:17 sponsorship endows these children's future.
22:20 Whether the Lord has blessed in different ways
22:25 we are accountable for what we have.
22:28 We all know the Bible parable of the widow's mite,
22:32 how she gave what she could.
22:34 Some can do a child, some can do half a child,
22:38 some can do many child but the combination
22:43 of what the Lord has blessed you with is essential
22:46 for the welfare of the children
22:49 and it will make a difference till eternity.
22:55 The Asian Aid School for the Blind
22:57 is an important institution
22:58 for the Seventh-day Adventist church in India.
23:01 Blind children from many non-Christian families
23:03 attend the school and it gives us an opportunity
23:06 to reach out to them with our good news
23:08 and share the love of Jesus with them.
23:12 Each day begins with worship
23:14 and church activities are lively occasion.
23:17 Every child gets to learn
23:18 and sing songs of praise and learn how to pray.
23:21 Now they also have a chance to read the Bible.
23:25 Well, I'm here at the Bobbili blind school in India
23:28 which is totally supported by Asian Aid
23:31 and it's always a challenge for us to find resources
23:35 that can help teach the children.
23:37 We are very excited that the company
23:39 that makes the God Pods has designed a recording device
23:43 that is very small and on this device
23:46 there is a total copy of the Bible
23:49 in both their own language Telugu and in English
23:52 and then on top of that
23:54 there are ten plus Bible stories
23:57 both in their native language Telugu and in English.
24:00 The other thing is that it's totally solar powered
24:04 so they have the ability to either plug it in
24:06 or just charge it in the sun.
24:09 What an opportunity to reach out
24:10 to these differently able children.
24:13 Thanks to the untiring efforts of Helen Eager,
24:16 organizations like Asian Aid and individual sponsors
24:19 like Garwin McNeilus, children at the blind school
24:22 not only have a place where they can acquire
24:24 life skills for the world outside,
24:26 but they have a place where they can prepare
24:28 their souls for the world to come.
24:31 I think of the blind school
24:34 if not daily sometimes several times a day
24:37 and I think of the story when we were taking the children
24:43 to get their eye operation and-- Dorothy Watts
24:49 a long time friend of India who is not with us anymore
24:56 and I were sitting on the bench had a little girl
25:02 and the little girl Dorothy says,
25:04 what do you want to do
25:06 if your operation is successful?
25:08 What is the first thing that you want to see?
25:12 And she said, well, I've held a kitty,
25:17 I petted a cow, she says I want to see Jesus.
25:22 And Dorothy said, well, we can see
25:26 but we can't see Him.
25:29 And she says well, then show me a picture.
25:34 And Dorothy said well, your operation
25:37 may not be successful.
25:39 And she said she thought, she had a look
25:42 on her face she says, that's okay,
25:45 I'll see him in heaven. Wow.
25:47 Here this little girl, the first thing
25:50 she want to see if she could see is Jesus.
25:53 And I think when we wake up
25:54 in the morning is that our thought?
25:58 The first thing we want to see is Jesus,
26:00 it has such an effect.
26:02 Jim, I think about it daily.
26:05 The faith of a blind child cannot be explained,
26:11 you need to come and feel it.