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Vanessa’s Story

October 2nd, 2014

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is in many ways the heart of Mumbai. Every day, tens of thousands of the megacity’s pedestrian traffic passes through or over the station’s 14 platforms. It is the busiest train station in India.

This is where the city inhales families seeking relief from the poverty that shapes life in rural India. There is perhaps no easier place in India for desperate parents to abandon their children when it is no longer possible to care for them.

 

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At night, the soot-stained Gothic arches of the old building shelter huddling groups of street boys who make a living by begging or picking up trash to sell to vendors for recycling.

Not many little girls are seen on the streets around the station, nor are there little bands of girls begging and picking up trash around the station.

Girls who find themselves left here, face a darker misery than hunger and abandonment. With one of Asia’s most notorious red-light districts just over 2 miles away, Chattrapati Shivaji is also the most likely place where a pimp or drug dealer can find a hungry girl wandering around.


Vanessa

Vanessa was born on the streets around this station. Her family was poor and had little hope of offering Vanessa a future that was different from theirs.

Knowing the likelihood of Vanessa being trafficked while they were out trying to earn a day’s wage, Vanessa’s mother started looking for a safer place where her 5-year-old daughter could grow up.

Vanessa’s mother came into contact with an SOS partner ministry’s outreach team through a feeding program at Chhatrapati Shivaji Station. Here she heard of a home where her daughter would be fed, educated and grow up in safety.

At the age 5, Vanessa found herself in a whole new world. Moving off the streets and into a home full of new sisters and the promise of a future she could never have dreamed of, Vanessa slowly began to find her way.

“When the girls first come to the shelter, they are lost. They don’t know how to be or speak properly. It takes time to adjust, but somehow they do,” said Dawn, one of the shelter workers.

Vanessa is happy, smart and excelling in every area of her life. Because of this outreach, Vanessa and her family have come to know the Lord and attend church every week.

Vanessa is a fun loving 10-year-old, who enjoys dancing and the performing arts.

She is one of many children who have come close to the everyday threat that Human
Trafficking poses to girls in India.

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All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries ©2014 All rights reserved. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please email: Info@sowerofseeds.org

Photo of the Week: First I Predicted Your Rescue

September 29th, 2014

“First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord. “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can Snatch anyone from my hand.” – Isaiah 43: 12-13 (NLT) 

The LIFE Center is a home that protects orphaned and abandoned children vulnerable to exploration, neglect and abuse. Although these brothers and sisters share a painful past, they also now share hope for a better future as members of a compassionate and caring family. Here they learn what it is like to be loved by a mom, a dad, siblings and, most importantly, their Savior.

If you have a heart for the orphaned or abandoned and would like to pray for this outreach, or support it financially, you can do so by clicking here.

Kids

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

Not So Typical

September 25th, 2014

By Pam Mueller 

It wasn’t a typical Saturday morning.

We woke up early to make the 2 hour drive to meet some friends for a hike. I was excited as we gathered water bottles, snacks, sunscreen and hiking shoes.

It wasn’t a typical hike, either.

We had dreamed of this hike for two years. A hike with some very special teenagers and their Dads. It was our first hike in India.

The kids were so excited when we arrived at their home, their energy like an electric hum. They filled backpacks with waters, sodas, and chips. Girls made final decisions on which shoes to wear, and we were off.

The hike looked moderately challenging. The trail led us up the side of a high, grassy hill through a few trees and rocky fields. I enjoyed the teenage laughter and chatter all around me, mostly in Hindi, but sometimes in English.

When we came to tricky places on the hike, and when we stopped for water breaks, I noticed how the kids helped each other. Boys helped girls up over rocks, everyone shared snacks and waters and duties of carrying backpacks. Maybe that’s not so shocking in a group of teenagers.

But then they helped me. I stopped once in a shady spot because I felt nauseous. Maybe it was the heat or dehydration or jetlag, or a combination of all three. The boys kept asking me, “Auntie, are you OK? Auntie, do you need help?”

Determination and some pride kept me going. I had done hikes much harder than this one, and we were here to take the kids on an adventure! But determination and pride couldn’t stop the waves of nausea and dizziness that soon overtook me. Not wanting to be “that girl” on the hike, I quietly sat down on some rocks and told the kids to go on up without me. I could see the top and knew I would be OK until they came back down.

But the boys would have none of that. A couple of them stayed with me while one ran up to the top of the hill to tell my husband (who was helping to lead the group) that I needed help. Maybe that’s not shocking in a group of teenagers when they have been trained well by their parents.

But these aren’t typical teenagers.

These teenagers live at the India LIFE Center, a home for kids who have lost their parents.. The kids have seen grief and hardship that I can’t imagine. Some lived on the streets before, where survival was not the stuff of video games.

I think that’s why their kindness made such an impact on me. These kids have gone from utter loss to having the capacity to care for me in my time of need. This capacity doesn’t come from living in a nice building or a being in a “program.” They learned to care this way by living in a family.

The LIFE Center family is not a typical family. And it’s not a perfect family. But in this family, kids see Dads and Moms caring for each other. They have the security of being loved and known. They are fed, clothed, stay in school and get an education. They have a future where once they had no hope for the future.

No, it wasn’t a typical hike and it wasn’t a typical Saturday.  I’m glad for that, even though I didn’t make it to the top of the hill!

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families…”   Psalm 68:5-6 

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© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

Photo of the Week: I Have All That I Need

September 22nd, 2014

“Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room.” – Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie.  

One day we were visiting the kids and one of the older boys pulled me aside. I knew part of his story. He has been on his own since he was 5 years old, somehow made his way to Mumbai on a train and had been involved in gangs and drugs while he lived on the street. He had been at the LIFE Center for a couple of years at this point and had been studying English for a short time.
“I’m memorizing Psalm 32, Didi [sister]!”
“You mean psalm 23?”
“Oh! yes. Psalm 23.”
I was delighted and caught off guard as he recited, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” – Season Fulton, Director of Media Communications.

Kids

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

Guest Post: Melinda Grantham – Unimaginable

September 18th, 2014

Melinda Melinda Grantham lived in India for 2 years teaching and developing curriculum at the India LIFE Center, SOS’s home for orphaned and abandoned children.


“Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes in which he looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.” Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) 

The sun is rising. Little feet pitter patter back and forth on the floor above my room. A knock comes at the door with a happy little voice, “Good morning Didi [sister]! Did you have good dreams?” In the hallway I hear a child getting ready for class singing, “Yeshu tera naam, sabse uncha hai… Jesus, your name is above every other name.”

I remember the day I moved into the India LIFE Center very well. One little boy ran up to me wrapping his limbs around my leg, not letting go. He had no English words for me then, only a smile, a squeal and a squeeze. He knew that I was his new teacher and that I was there for him, because of him.

In the west we use the word “unimaginable” to signify something unfamiliar or difficult to understand. Street children live unimaginable lives in the truest meaning of the word. 

It’s amazing what a smile can hide. During bedtime stories, afternoon tutoring, or while playing games I would get a glimpse into the children’s former lives. Over the two years I lived there, I heard firsthand what came before the smiles they had received from Christ. These children had survived unimaginable realities: being tied to the railroad tracks by your own mother; eating only one egg a day for weeks, for which you were made to work; starving to the point of eating mud; watching your sister commit suicide by fire because of the despair and poverty; or knowing that your father had sold a younger sibling…

These are not bad dreams from which you can wake, unless by divine conspiracy or God-inspired compassion, someone comes to your rescue.

When I heard the vision of the India Life Center, I immediately knew that I needed to be there to be Jesus’ hands and feet. I believed that in the moment someone steps forward to support children like these or the work we do at the India Life Center, a miracle happens. The miracle of restoration and new life starts each moment a child is rescued. And every time someone prays, gives or serves these children their lives are validated by the miracle of education, healing, provision, love and hope for the future.

In my two years there, I saw children grow and learn and now my little friends talk in English about their love for God, about a future as a lawyer, a minister, a teacher.

These children now talk about unimaginable love, and of hope. 

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Girl

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

Photo of the Week: One Child

September 15th, 2014

India has 11 million street children, the largest population of street children in the world according to conservative estimates by UNICEF. Such large numbers are often hard to understand and overwhelming to see. A sense of defeat can easily overcome us and discourage us from taking action.

Mother Teresa said, “If I look at the mass I will never act.” 

SOS is responding to the cries of orphaned and abandoned street children. Starting with the needs of one child, and than moving forward to help another and another. The LIFE Center is a refuge for little hearts looking for a place to belong. It is a home where kids receive the love and care they long for while also receiving everything they physically need to grow.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” - James 1:27

Girl

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

The India LIFE Center – The Antithesis Of My Nightmares

September 11th, 2014

By Season Fulton 

I was 8 years old when I first came to know about real orphans—the kind that weren’t just characters in a fairytale. This was long before I had visited the India LIFE Center, or an orphanage of any sort. My father had traveled to Rwanda for relief work after the genocide in 1994. I wondered about the children he took pictures with because I was told they were now orphans. “They’re like the Lost Boys,” I thought, “but they have fun. Peter Pan takes care of them.”

As I grew up hearing about the mission field but not quite experiencing it for myself, I imagined the horror of being a street child through the eyes of my childhood movies. Life was heartbreaking and impossibly hard, but the hero always rescued them in the end, even if they thought there was no one who cared.

It took some growing up to realize that life could be much harsher than even the most real movies.

My worst nightmare was seeing hungry, dirty kids living in dark alleys alone being preyed upon by evil people. I began to realize that if I lined up all those looking for abandoned children based on their intentions, the line of evildoers would be miles longer than the honorable.

In real life, the heroes were being drowned out by the villains, not to mention ignored by the dignified. This broke my heart.

My first trip to Mumbai further opened my eyes. What stung the most was seeing children living on the streets. It was eerily like my nightmares—the shadowed streets closely resembled the scenes I had imagined in my childhood. The dreaminess only began to fade away as I became more educated about street children. Some had run away from home because of abusive parents. Most parents had died. Some had been in other orphanages where they were abused. Their stories were new nightmares, but this time I heard the stories from their own mouths as we sat on their new beds in their new home with new parents.

This home holds heavy hearts at times, but it also holds heavy smiles. This place is the antithesis of my nightmares. 

At the LIFE Center, we have the opportunity to bring warmth and safety to children who are vulnerable, preyed upon and utterly alone in the world. I personally believe that the kids we pour into right now will in turn be a tremendous part of bringing hope to their nation.

“Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” – Psalm 82:3 

Season

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

International Literacy Day 2014: The State of Girls’ Education Today

September 8th, 2014

Every year on Sept. 8, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO reiterates its call to governments and international organizations on the importance of ensuring all people have the opportunity to read and write.

As we mark International Literacy Day, it is an opportune time to highlight the importance of literacy and the challenges ahead in promoting global literacy. The statics are shocking and reinforce the urgency behind today’s significance. According to the World Literacy Foundation, an estimated 67 million children still do not have access to primary school education.Gender inequality is embedded heavily in determining access. Girls’ are more likely to be illiterate than boys, further entrenching poverty. However, girl’s illiteracy is not inevitable. There are 480 days until the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It is imperative that the political will and momentum is kept apace to ensure all children, especially girls’, are given the chance to fulfil their potential and secure their future.

via International Literacy Day 2014: The State of Girls’ Education Today | Vanessa Thevathasan.

Photo of the Week: A Safe Place

September 8th, 2014

“What is home? My favorite definition is “a safe place,” a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.” – Gladys Hunt, Honey For A Child’s Heart. 

The LIFE Center is much more than just a building for orphaned and abandoned children. It is a home. Here children are placed into families, with a mom, dad, brothers and sisters. Not only are all their physical needs cared for, but they receive love, acceptance and the opportunity to grow-up in a secure environment.

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.” – Psalm 68:6 (NLV) 

Boys

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

This Is Home – India LIFE Center

September 4th, 2014

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.”- Psalm 68:5-6 

One of the most difficult things to bear is the look of loneliness in a child’s eyes. Whether orphaned or abandoned, the India LIFE Center is a home for desperate little hearts searching for a place of safety. It is a home where they find love, acceptance and healing.

Bombay Life Center from SOS International on Vimeo.

© Sower of Seeds International Ministries 2014 –  All rights reserved.  All written material and photographs belong exclusively to Sower of Seeds International Ministries unless where otherwise noted. To request permission to re-post or use any material found on this website please contact us.

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