Though his head lay closest to me, it was his feet I noticed first. Extending beyond the frayed hem of an ancient pair of pants that draped skin and bone, his feet were filth-covered gnarls that hadn't seen shoes in years. His body was curled into fetal but he was no child. Eighty years and circumstance had shriveled height and hope, and his pained expression belied one who welcomed his own passing. A frail mind understood but didn't care that his life remaining was now measured in days, not years.
It grieved me to observe the indifference of those who passed by him. To them, he was an invisible man and counted for nothing.
Now in Kolkata, India with a team of bloggers, I'll join them in visiting Compassion International projects this week where we'll meet locally sponsored children and the staff who serve them. We'll visit in homes meeting some of their families; and if everything works out, many of us will meet the children we sponsor.
But today wasn't about Compassion International, it was simply about compassion. We visited Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, whose goal was to minister to the poor, sick, orphaned and needy. She lived Christ to so many, loving by serving others with no regard for herself, in spite of doubts and misgivings we learned about after her death. She is entombed there now, but her presence lingers. Her precious legacy of love, service and humility continues.
We saw this in room after room of orphaned children, some in good health, others not as fortunate. These little bitty things sat sweet-naturedly at tables, eating their dinner out of tin plates, usually one person serving over half a dozen at a time…and I was surprised to see very young toddlers feeding themselves.
Some liked our group's attention and they flirted or smiled; others were immune to our existence. And some…absolutely broke my heart.
Like the little fella who stared at me through obsidian eyes and matching hair, whose expression questioned why I was there, who refused me a smile…
…and when I saw his bare feet extending out of a pair of hand-me-down pants, cleaned by compassionate hands, tears filled my eyes as I remembered the old soul I had seen minutes earlier. I prayed God's favor over this nameless little boy, that his life would fare differently.
The poverty in Kolkata is omnipresent; living conditions for many are unfathomable. Those who sponsor children through Compassion International RESCUE them and positively impact the entire family. Today, we saw countless neglected or abandoned or forgotten children. Beginning tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week, we''ll get to see one way HOPE is penetrating the vicious cycle of poverty and its lifelong effect.
Sunset in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, India.
Do the "Blind Men and the Elephant" thing and get a complete perspective from all the Compassion bloggers: