Participants: Jean Boonstra
Series Code: HIM
Program Code: HIM000026
00:04 A little over a year ago when my husband Shaun
00:06 and I decided to sponsor a child through Asian Aid,
00:10 I never would have imagined
00:11 that I would end up meeting our sponsored child in India.
00:15 I'm thinking I want to become nurse.
00:17 All right.
00:19 It was an experience made more incredible and exciting,
00:22 because this was also our daughter's first trip
00:25 outside of North America.
00:27 Well, I was super excited about coming
00:29 and I knew it would be a life changing experience
00:31 and it has been so far.
00:33 Together we discovered a land full of color and contrast.
00:37 We met Sheela our sponsor daughter,
00:40 rode on a school bus with her
00:41 and in doing all this came across people
00:44 who put their lives in danger
00:46 to rescue girls in parole imperil.
00:49 The risk is huge.
00:50 I am always known that there is a risk
00:52 in this of being involved.
00:54 But I think, I don't think
00:56 we can sit quite about it either.
00:58 And witness the wondrous work
01:00 being carried out in the slums.
01:03 We experienced first hand
01:05 the transformation Asian Aid is making
01:07 for lives of thousands of children across India.
01:21 India is a land full of contrast.
01:26 It's a land of great mystery and beauty.
01:29 It's a land of unspeakable despair.
01:33 By traveling through India one thing is for sure,
01:36 it's a land filled with people
01:38 who should never be underestimated.
01:41 For the last 40 years Asian Aid has invested
01:44 in the futures of people
01:46 who had never been given such a chance
01:48 and their investment has proven infinite returns.
01:53 Driven by the vision of Helen Eager
01:55 dedicated to helping those who have the least,
01:58 Asian Aid is an organization
01:59 implementing diverse development projects
02:02 and sponsoring thousands of children.
02:05 Their out reach spans from Bangladesh to Nepal,
02:08 Sri Lanka and beyond
02:11 from remote villages in empty fields
02:13 to sprawling centers of education
02:16 from nothing to the unimaginable.
02:20 Now, Asian Aid decided to document the work
02:22 it has been doing all these years
02:24 with the desire to show the world
02:26 what is possible by digging wells
02:29 in remote villages for clean drinking water
02:31 and bringing much needed healthcare
02:33 to the woman of Nepal,
02:35 by providing an education for orphans,
02:38 deaf, and blind children, giving them a sense of place, a home.
02:42 But what we really discovered was being given was hope.
02:46 Giving hope to children, giving hope to women,
02:50 giving hope to the ones who needed the most,
02:54 this is Hope in Motion.
03:17 We arrive in Bangalore, India,
03:19 late at night on the 2nd of July.
03:22 The days rest in some shopping did us good
03:25 and rejuvenates us for the long trip ahead.
03:28 We are ready for our Indian adventure.
03:33 Is this city always been busy like this?
03:36 No, the city has changed.
03:38 I've lived in this city now for 17 years
03:41 and the last 10 years I would say,
03:43 this city has really changed.
03:45 I think there's been an influx of people.
03:48 This city is the IT hub of India
03:51 and I think in the last 10 years
03:54 every major multinational has moved an office to Bangalore.
03:59 The following day we meet with Anita at Oasis.
04:02 Now Oasis's office is tucked behind the gate
04:05 with only a small nondescript sign indicating its presence.
04:10 We slip upstairs and meet Anita and her team
04:13 a group of about 10 people.
04:19 Oasis is a rescue operation,
04:21 rescuing girls from human trafficking.
04:24 Young girls are trafficked, confined and raped
04:27 then forced into the prostitution trade.
04:30 Jim and I meet Anita in her office.
04:33 She tells us that corruption and lack of manpower
04:36 in the enforcement agencies
04:38 has made this a rampant problem
04:40 in big cites like Bangalore.
04:43 You know, the huge problem in India
04:45 I think the US puts the figures at about a 100 million
04:48 but the actual figures will be much, much higher
04:51 because these figures,
04:52 yeah, these figures are from about four years ago.
04:56 I think the people on the ground
04:58 see for themselves the number of people being rescued.
05:01 So in this last six months
05:03 we've had 42 girls from Bangladesh alone
05:06 rescued in one district in Bangalore.
05:10 So you can imagine the numbers
05:12 that are coming in from Bangladesh from Nepal
05:15 but the numbers trafficked within India are huge as well.
05:19 The primary motive at Oasis
05:21 is to rescue these trafficked girls,
05:24 but it is not as easy as it sounds.
05:26 There is a lot of planning, networking
05:29 and in almost all cases this involves undercover operations.
05:40 The risk is huge and the situation
05:43 is delicate and complicated.
05:45 Anita and her team have been threatened physically.
05:48 There are tremendous sums of money involved.
05:52 The risk is huge I'm always known that
05:53 there is a risk in this of being involved.
05:57 But I think, I don't think we can sit quiet about it either
06:01 being an Indian woman myself
06:03 and having seen what happens and having seen the fact
06:06 that people do not want to get involved
06:08 in really higher risk things.
06:12 When the girls are rescued,
06:14 it does not necessarily mean freedom,
06:17 they face a lot of emotional and physical challenges.
06:21 They are understandably afraid and ashamed.
06:24 They're cutoff from any support from family.
06:28 The physical abuse these girls undergo
06:30 during captivity is appalling.
06:33 I think if I have to speak about the worst kind of cases
06:38 I've seen I saw two and a half year old girl
06:41 who had been slashed,
06:43 many times around her waist and her bottom,
06:48 and had been burned with cigarette butts all around,
06:52 yeah, all around her private parts.
06:55 So I think that was one of the worst,
06:57 the level of abuse sometimes is just huge and horrid.
07:01 When they're first brought in and they're broken,
07:04 you know their will to do this is broken.
07:07 They're abused very, very badly by the pimps.
07:09 And so during that time they're chained,
07:11 they're beaten, they're starved
07:14 and physically very badly abused.
07:21 Asian Aid with its operation Child Rescue program
07:24 has joined hands with Oasis supporting them
07:27 with funds necessary to facilitate this rescue effort
07:30 in the crucial rehabilitation for the children.
07:35 Sitting and talking to Anita,
07:36 I made aware of the huge risk
07:39 that she is taking and the dedication and courage
07:42 she has to undertake this dangerous mission.
07:46 I think if I wasn't doing this
07:48 and if I wasn't being involved in this,
07:52 I don't think my heart would be silent on this.
07:56 Yeah, I think I choose to have the courage to do this.
08:01 Anita's motives are purely Christian.
08:03 She knows that the only hope for these girls
08:06 to recover from the abuse they've suffered is the hope
08:09 that Christ can give.
08:12 Oasis doesn't have its own rehab home
08:14 and currently relies on government facilities.
08:17 Anita's goal is to have a home of their own.
08:20 Sadly many of the girls rescued
08:22 cannot overcome the pain or the shame.
08:26 Some are turned to the lifestyle willingly
08:28 and rehabilitation is a crucial step.
08:33 Coming out of the meeting with Anita,
08:34 I am full of hope and encouragement
08:37 for what she and her team are doing.
08:39 At the same time my heart is troubled
08:42 as I tried to comprehend the problems faced
08:45 by innocent young girls in India
08:47 and this is not the sort of beginning
08:50 I had in mind when I have first set out for India.
08:59 On the plane ride from Bangalore to Vishakhapatnam
09:02 on the east coast of the Indian peninsula,
09:05 I have enough time to reflect on my meeting with Anita.
09:09 I wonder what we will experience on the rests of our journey.
09:13 Slowly the unsettled feeling fades
09:15 and I focus on the exciting next step.
09:26 Vishakhapatnam or Vizag as it's commonly known is hot and humid.
09:32 From the airport are driven straight to a slum settlement
09:35 in the centre of the city.
09:37 Just walking through its narrow alley
09:40 is an experience in itself.
09:43 We're guided to a freshly painted building.
09:46 It's an Adventist school in the heart of the slum
09:49 and this was unexpected.
09:51 We are introduced to Naomi the school principal
09:54 and we get to meet the kids in her classrooms.
10:07 Gathered on the rooftop
10:09 the pleasant breeze is a welcome relief.
10:16 We're here in Vizag
10:17 and we've just visited the slum school
10:19 that's been recently renovated.
10:22 They've done a lot of renovations
10:23 particularly up here, where we gathered
10:26 with the children here on the roof.
10:28 This is an amazing experience to see the area
10:31 that these kids live in surrounds this school here.
10:35 It's been great to be here,
10:36 we get to come back in a few days,
10:37 we're gonna have the dedication
10:39 for this newly renovated slum school.
10:45 After spending a couple of hours at the slum school
10:48 we head out to Bobbili.
11:01 Arriving at the Asian Aid School for the Blind in Bobbili
11:05 we received a warm welcome.
11:07 Boys and girls on each side of the entrance way
11:10 greet us with flowers and handshakes.
11:13 I am surprised by how many more boys
11:15 there are than girls.
11:17 There are about 50 girls and 120 boys
11:20 that live here at the school.
11:22 Later pastor Paulson the school principal
11:25 takes us on the tour of the campus.
11:28 It's amazing to see
11:29 how the blind children are taught and how they learn
11:32 with their specialized equipment.
11:35 The blind school will be our home
11:36 for the rest of our stay in India.
11:40 So we're staying here at the Asian Aid School
11:42 for the Blind in Bobbili and it's absolutely beautiful,
11:45 everything's green this time of year.
11:47 The flowers are blooming, we even got to eat some guava
11:50 and even more beautiful are the students staying here.
11:54 We have the privilege this morning of going
11:56 through the school pastor Paulson
11:58 showed Natalie and Naomi around
12:00 and the beautiful wide opened hallways
12:03 where the students can easily maneuver their way around.
12:06 We got to see where they live,
12:08 it was an incredible privilege to see the kids
12:11 doing their math using-- writing Braille,
12:14 using the Braille computers, it was amazing.
12:17 And we're so thankful to be able to be here
12:20 we're really close to where Sunrise Home is
12:22 and where Sheela lives and we're looking
12:24 forward to getting to meet her soon
12:25 and just incredibly blessed to be able to see
12:29 and stay at these amazing facilities here
12:33 at the blind school.
12:41 On Sabbath morning we attend church in Bobbili,
12:45 this is Sheela's church.
12:46 It's nice to see children from Sunrise Home there
12:49 and taking part in the Sabbath school program.
12:52 The girls and I greet Sheela warmly.
12:55 We can't talk much on this day
12:58 but it's an incredible experience to worship
13:00 in Sheela's church with her.
13:03 I'm overwhelmed with emotion change is possible.
13:23 In the afternoon we visit the village of Karada.
13:27 The village is not far from Sunrise Home
13:29 and on the edge of town there's a church
13:31 built a few years ago by Maranatha.
13:38 Well, I'm here in the village of Karada
13:40 which is real close to the new Sunrise Home
13:43 that we're just completing.
13:45 The exciting thing about this village is
13:48 that the children and staff from the Sunrise Home
13:51 become involved with this village
13:53 both in Sabbath school and church
13:55 and a church near by that hasn't had any leadership
13:59 and also with community work with health training.
14:03 The great news is that the investment
14:05 that many donors made in Sunrise is now paying off
14:09 in the wider community
14:11 and we are real proud of Asian Aid.
14:15 The next day we go to Sunrise Home
14:18 to spend the day with Sheela, our sponsor daughter
14:20 and to have some dedicated time with her.
14:23 This is the day we've been waiting
14:25 so long for and we are excited.
14:29 We have so many questions about her day to day life.
14:32 We can't wait to spend time at Sunrise Home.
14:47 Reaching Sunrise we are greeted by Lalitha,
14:49 the director and all the kids.
14:52 The girls all wear beautiful matching sarees.
14:56 We enjoy a quick tour of the facility.
14:59 It's a very hot day and so soon all the kids
15:02 go inside to rest and cool off
15:04 and Natalie and Naomi are invited along
15:07 and they gladly joined them.
15:09 This gives me an opportunity to talk with Lalitha.
15:13 So what was the old home like?
15:15 I mean this is beautiful, you've got a lot of open space.
15:18 What was your old home like?
15:20 Old home is like congested. Okay.
15:22 Children eating in same place,
15:24 drinking, eating, sleeping, watching T.V,
15:28 prayer, same in the same room
15:30 they used to conduct everything there only.
15:32 But after we came here,
15:34 children they have a special prayer room,
15:37 children they have special rooms to sleep
15:39 and they have a special dining hall to eat.
15:43 So they have big play ground
15:45 and they are enjoying the facilities what we have.
15:49 Well, our sponsor daughter Sheela,
15:51 we're so happy to meet her.
15:53 She's such a sweet beautiful girl.
15:55 And my husband is so sad
15:57 he wasn't able to come and meet her.
15:59 But my daughters and I have loved meeting her.
16:02 We've written to her few times
16:03 and we've gotten to know her here
16:04 but we don't know really a lot of her story.
16:07 Can you tell me a little about how she ended up here?
16:10 Do you remember how old was when she arrived?
16:13 Yeah, I want to show her photo
16:15 when she came here. Okay.
16:17 She was nine years old or like ten years old,
16:20 and her big-- she is having big stomach
16:23 and small thin legs and--
16:27 Was she malnourished? Is that why?
16:29 Malnutrition. Okay.
16:30 Because she don't have enough of food.
16:32 That's sad.
16:33 So after they come here they will have lot to eat.
16:36 So we will provide them whatever they want.
16:39 So she don't have mother. Mother died.
16:43 Father was there and father again
16:46 he married another woman. Oh, I see.
16:48 So stepmother she won't take care of her.
16:50 She, she didn't take care of Sheela.
16:52 So-- Oh, that breaks my heart.
16:54 Yeah, that time she cam here.
16:55 Father himself and the pastor,
16:58 one of the pastors they recommended here.
17:01 So she was brought here.
17:04 Oh, this is Sheela's file?
17:05 Yeah, this is Sheela when she came to Sunrise Home.
17:08 Oh, wow.
17:09 Here you can see her small very thin hands.
17:13 Oh, she looks like a different person.
17:16 This is the dress when she came here I have bought her.
17:20 You got a special dress for her?
17:21 Yeah, special dress then this is the uniform.
17:23 Oh, 1990.
17:25 And you can see it here. Oh, beautiful.
17:29 Yeah, she's changed a lot definitely.
17:31 Yeah, a lot. Yes, yes.
17:35 Sheela does look different from the first time
17:37 she was brought to Sunrise.
17:39 There is a kind of contentment
17:41 that radiates from her face when I talk to her.
17:45 I'm so glad that my daughters
17:46 and I could come and spend a little bit of time
17:48 with you and see where you live.
17:50 This is a beautiful room that you're in.
17:53 Do you like it here at Sunrise Home?
17:56 You're happy?
17:57 Yeah. Good.
17:59 You seem very happy,
18:00 your mommy seems very kind to you
18:02 and all of the children.
18:04 Yes, she is very kind.
18:06 Very good, very nice.
18:07 So you're studying in which standard now?
18:10 Which grade? Ninth, ninth grade.
18:13 What is your subject to study at school?
18:17 Biology? Okay.
18:19 And have you thought yet about
18:20 what you would like to do in the future?
18:24 I'm thinking I want to become nurse.
18:26 Oh, I can see you, good.
18:28 Well, when, do you remember
18:29 when you were young and you first came to Sunrise Home,
18:32 do you remember that very much?
18:34 I remember little only.
18:36 Only little bit.
18:38 Do you feel like your life is very different here
18:40 than it would have been
18:41 if haven't come to Sunrise Home?
18:43 Yeah, it's very different.
18:47 Well, I'm glad.
18:48 I'm so pleased to spend time with you.
18:51 I'm so blessed to be with you.
18:53 I too.
18:55 Well, it's incredible privileged to be here with Sheela.
18:58 It's just a dream come true to meet her.
19:01 It's you know, it's one thing to see a picture,
19:03 but to see her, see her smiling face
19:05 how happy she is with all her sisters and brothers here
19:08 and just the spiritual level in this home is just incredible.
19:13 And I'm so fortunate to be here
19:15 and to see what a difference sponsorship can make.
19:19 Indeed sponsorship is making a difference.
19:23 The more time I spend with Sheela
19:24 and the more time I get to see what's being done at Sunrise
19:28 I'm glad that I have this association with it.
19:31 And that Sheela is an important part of our lives.
19:35 It's incredible to have my daughters
19:37 with me here at Sunrise Home.
19:40 They've been able to play with Sheela,
19:42 get to visit with her
19:43 and just spend some time with other kids,
19:45 doing like kids do.
19:47 I can't tell you
19:48 what a meaningful experience this is for them.
19:52 I'm so thankful that I've been able to have them here
19:55 and to have them share in this experience.
19:58 Well, I was super excited about coming.
20:00 I mean, I knew it would be a life changing experience
20:02 and it has been so far.
20:04 It's a beautiful country
20:05 and I mean, there are very poor areas.
20:08 But it's just the people here they do feel privileged
20:14 when they even get the smallest thing.
20:16 And I think we just need to really keep that
20:19 in our heads as we go through life.
20:34 Wow, it's beautiful up here.
20:36 We're on the top of the water tower
20:38 looking down on Sunrise Home.
20:40 You can see the world beautiful green fields all around us,
20:45 the rainy season has just passed so it's gorgeous and green.
20:48 And from up here it's wonderful.
20:50 You can see the almost brand new Sunrise campus,
20:53 it just dedicated this fall.
20:54 You can see the-- I can see the bus,
20:57 the staff quarters, the boys and girls dorm
21:00 and the new girls dorm that they're building.
21:02 The kids are very excited about that.
21:05 It's been an amazing experience being here.
21:07 There are ducks, there are wild turkeys,
21:10 the kids are so happy.
21:11 The kids are just so happy here
21:13 and they love to play in this field,
21:16 they even have the river to go cool off in
21:19 and splash in on a hot day.
21:21 It's just an incredible experience to be here,
21:23 I'm so blessed and so overwhelmed by it.
21:58 Well, its Monday morning
22:00 and we are on the Sunrise Home school bus
22:02 and we are riding with Sheela and the other kids
22:05 to their school this morning.
22:07 I can tell you, you are never too old
22:10 to ride a school bus, this is fun.
22:37 Well, this is Sheela's classroom,
22:39 she's gonna be studying here today.
22:41 I talked to her on the school bus
22:42 she has all subjects today.
22:45 Her favorite subject is biology,
22:47 she's studying, physics, mathematics
22:50 I can't tell you how that makes me feel to see her here
22:53 in her classroom and to know
22:55 that she's getting a good education,
22:57 she's getting an Adventist education.
23:00 She's being well prepared
23:01 to go forward into high school, college.
23:04 She wants to be a nurse
23:06 and I can see here that
23:08 she is getting the preparation that she needs to do that.
23:12 I can't tell you what a difference
23:14 that makes for me to see
23:17 that she is able to receive that through sponsorship.
23:25 While Sheela is at school,
23:27 I want to visit a near by village
23:29 to see how life is for people there.
23:32 Raj Verma, Asian Aid field officer
23:35 takes us to a village a few minutes drive
23:37 from Sunrise Home.
23:39 There we meet a Christian woman Pentamma,
23:41 a gregarious grey haired woman.
23:44 She must be in her early 70s,
23:46 and yet she tells me that she still works in the fields.
23:50 If you have had the chance as a girl
23:52 to go to school would you have liked that?
23:54 ( speaking in foreign language )
24:08 So I didn't have opportunity those days,
24:11 my mother didn't send me to school
24:13 and those days no school also was here.
24:15 So my mother used to take me to field work, farm work.
24:18 Oh, to field work as a younger.
24:21 Meeting Pentamma at her home
24:23 I am thankful for the opportunity Sheela has.
24:26 What would have happened to her if she was left in her village?
24:30 Would she be working in the fields,
24:32 illiterate and with no hope?
24:34 I dare not to imagine this scenario.
24:42 I've traveled to India
24:43 with my husband Shaun before in 2006,
24:46 but this trip with Asian Aid has opened my eyes
24:50 in a brand new way.
24:52 I'm touched by what Asian Aid is doing
24:54 and the need of the happy beautiful children
24:57 moves me deeply.
24:59 My daughters feel it too
25:01 and for that I feel very thankful.
25:04 In the evening we drive back to Vizag,
25:08 it is hard to leave.
25:09 It is been a life changing week for my daughters and me.
25:14 In Vizag the next morning we returned to the slum school
25:17 for its dedication ceremony.
25:19 Colorful banners are hanging and it's a high day.
25:23 Principle Naomi greets us
25:24 and we enjoy seeing the now familiar faces of the kids.
25:29 At the dedication we meet Ramini,
25:32 she lives just down the narrow alleyway
25:34 a little away from the school
25:36 and she attended this slum school as a child.
25:39 Now she is in a boarding school in Rajahmundry
25:42 and she plans to be a physician.
25:45 I like this school very much.
25:47 This school is like my mother.
25:49 This school will teach me everything,
25:51 teachers also help me so much,
25:53 sponsors and donors also help me so much to learn.
25:57 Because of their grace I am studying now.
25:59 Really, I would like to thank them,
26:01 I don't know who are they also,
26:03 I doesn't see their face also.
26:05 It is an emotional experience to see the wondrous work
26:09 that's being carried out in the slums.
26:11 We see the change that has brought about in the community
26:14 and experience first hand
26:16 the transformation Asian Aid is making
26:19 in the lives of thousands of children across India.
26:23 So, not too long ago Shaun and I
26:25 and our girls got involved with Asian Aid
26:28 and it's been just over a year now
26:29 that we've had Sheela as our sponsor daughter.
26:33 I couldn't have ever imagined
26:34 when we started that process
26:36 that we would end up here in India,
26:38 actually getting to meet Sheela
26:40 and spend time with her, to see where she lives,
26:43 meet the kids she lives with and shares her life with.
26:46 What an incredible experience it's been.
26:49 It's been an incredible privilege to be here
26:51 I'm just so honored to be part of Asian Aid
26:54 and what they're doing
26:56 and I don't think this will be our last trip to India.