Just a stone’s throw from the historic Amber Palace, one of India’s top tourist destinations, lies one of the country’s many leper colonies. Up a slight walkway, a turn to the right and then past a three-story row of buildings you will find some of India’s most severely handicapped people.
As you look around you will find a small ancient door which leads to a courtyard. Walking under the electric wires that seem to appear out of nowhere, you step foot into the small (about 500 sq. ft.) gathering place for this community. Off this courtyard are small concrete rooms which operate as homes or dwelling places, one for each of the 50 families that have to call this place “home.” From old lepers to newborn children, it is where life is lived for this outcast class. There is one communal toilet room which is a damp place during the monsoon season and reeks like a stench-filled oven the rest of the year.
Every family that lives here would do anything to be able to leave.
Each person you meet has a story. In one family, the mother and the father are both disabled from the waist down. Every day they alternate being taken to a busy street corner to beg. It is the life left to the handicapped or the lepers. This family has a precious little girl whose name is Sandhaya (which means evening). She is a beautiful girl and her smile can make you forget her surroundings. She faithfully serves her mom and dad. Not a discouraged look on her face. She only wants a chance.
Many girls just like Sandhaya, if not given that chance, will be sold into child marriage or worse.
Imagine the scene as we gather together, everyone in this forgotten place—lepers, handicapped and children alike—to talk about God’s love and our nearby Hope Center. From the youngest to the oldest, they listen intently as we share about a place where they are accepted, loved and given hope. Many of the old have tears in their eyes as they hear us talk about imagining a different life for their grandchildren.
We distribute rice, lentils, oil and sugar. There is a long line and a pouring rain. They stand patiently. We stand with them. Sandhaya’s mother sits on a concrete slab pleading for us to take her daughter, to give her a different life. The problem is, to get permission for a child to come from a leper colony is no easy task. In leper families even the children without the disease are placed in a special category and have a citizenship card that identifies them by that dreaded word, Leper. We already have two girls from this colony at Mason’s Place. We will go to the city government to get their permission for Sandhaya. With God’s help, through your prayers and gifts Sandhaya will have hope. We continue our mission of rescuing children and transforming their lives in Jesus name, one girl at a time. All in Jesus’ name.