A child sits on the water's edge in Ernavoor, a village in southern India that borders the Bay of Bengal. A tsunami swept through this area destroying many homes of Compassion-assisted families. Sponsors on the Compassion India tour visited this area to see the destruction and witness restoration.
One of our visits during the Compassion India Sponsor Tour in June was to the Wesley Child Development Center (IN-520). The project is located in the coastal village of Ernavoor, a couple dozen miles north of the city of Chennai. This village was one of many affected by the tsunami that struck last December.
A Feeling of Joy
Once inside the center, however, we sponsors found ourselves overwhelmed by a different kind of force, that of the children and their irresistible joy as they drew us all into singing, dancing and playing with them.
One little boy came up to me and I picked him up and lifted him above my head. By the time I had put him down, I had a whole crowd of children waiting for their turn to be picked up! I lifted them one by one for as long as my arms held out.
A couple of other little boys challenged me to a race. "Get ready, get set, go!" I said, and we ran to the far wall of the building and back. More little boys joined in and we raced again. And again. And again.
The children, through their exuberance, showed me that this wasn't a place drowning in despair it was a place of resiliency and hope.
Lending a Helping Hand
This project visit wasn't just about play. After visiting with the children, the sponsors divided into small groups to go into the community and do some work.
My group visited the home of a little girl named Sujatha. The tsunami had driven a fishing boat through her family's thatched house, completely destroying it.
As my fellow sponsors and I worked to level the floor, I thought about how I became a first-time homeowner a couple years ago. When I bought my house, it needed a lot of work. I remember how good it felt every time my dad or a friend came over and helped me with this or that repair. It was a blessing to me to be able to do the same for Sujatha's family.
After we finished with our work in the homes we made our way to the beach to paint a few of the new boats that would be critical to restoring the livelihoods of the families in this fishing village.
A Season of Hope
Actually, the boats were quite a bit rougher in appearance than I'd expected little more than long planks of wood bound together by rope. But after we finished our painting and prayed over a couple of the boats, some of the local fishermen took them out into the surf, where they looked surprisingly sturdy as they crested the waves.
Sujatha's father will be one of the fishermen using the new boats. He told us as we were working in their home that he takes his boat nearly five miles out when he fishes.
As we left the center, the children and their families at the end of the day, I said a prayer for the safety of Sujatha's dad as he resumes his work at sea. I said a prayer of thanks that none of the wonderful people of Ernavoor were lost during the tsunami and I prayed for better times for these strong people as they continue rebuilding their lives.
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