Below is my journal entry for June 14, 2008, from my first trip to India. I experienced culture shock from the moment I arrived in Delhi and for the entire time I was there. The sights, sounds, smells, were so different than anything I had seen before. David Archuleta, I am sure, will absorb it all and grow from this trip. I am so glad that he can participate in such a great cause as Rising Star Outreach ….
June 14, 2008
“There is such a contrast between rich and poor here…While stopped at a stop light in our car , a man came up to our window with a babe in arms and a dirty, empty, plastic baby bottle. He used the bottle to rap on my window, his face blank, but his eyes pleading…..It is impossible for me to turn away. I want to get out and give as much as I can. My Indian friends insist that the baby is borrowed and well fed and that begging is just another occupation here in Delhi. ‘Better luck next life’ seems to be the motto. This does not sit well with me. We continue on our way to the mall, which looks like any mall back at home, but I don’t feel much like shopping. On the perimeter of the mall parking lot you see people EVERYWHERE in makeshift huts and tents, cooking over fires, kids playing in the dirt, cows wandering, traffic and congestion all around. I feel a long way from home.”
I dream of returning to India someday, but next time not as an observer but to help. David’s involvement in RSO has given me the doorway to actually DO IT, something that I previously had thought about, but never knew the vehicle to actually GO!!
I was fascinated to learn that when RSO founder Becky Douglas visited India in 2000 and was approached by beggars with leprosy, she was so haunted by the experience that she vowed to return someday and make a difference. And she did. RSO’s first children’s home and boarding school opened four years later with 27 kids from India’s leper colonies. Even though leprosy is now curable, lepers are still considered outcasts in that country. In fact, there about one million cases of leprosy in India alone.
These are some of RSO’s other programs:
- A permanent children’s school and village built on a 13.5-acre tract of former orchard land near Chennai.
- A Mobile Medical Unit that travels to the leper colonies (since logistics and social stigma make access to hospitals difficult).
- Helping ostracized families to work towards independence by providing loans for small businesses. (According to the RSO website, one leprosy sufferer who’d attempted suicide by drinking pesticide recovered and later received a micro-loan to buy a cow. The man sold the cow’s milk, saved his money and eventually the single cow became a small herd. The man is now respected by people who once shunned him.)
David’s support of a cause like RSO, in a culture so different than ours, and one that has always held a huge interest for me is another “David moment,” for me — a nudge in a direction that once seemed impossible.
David’s inspiration has given me the push to change many things in my own life’s journey, including my job, my exercise habits and my attitude — to try to “disco with the flow” more often. I appreciate the fact that he is willing to spend his time and energy helping others. That tells me he really wants to learn about the people and give them the healing gift of his voice….
Can you imagine it? David singing his heart out for these people? …. I can, and it is a beautiful thing. David will see so much, and learn so much…and grow so much…. I know I came back from India with a broader perspective on what is valuable in this life, and I think David will too.
Thank you again David, for showing us your heart.
p.s. January 31 is World Leprosy Day. To learn more about RSO’s work, watch this amazing video first posted by MunkFOD (or to make a donation, click the brick in the sidebar).
Vodpod videos no longer available.