NOTE FROM EDITOR: This content honors Compassion’s historical work in India. While we no longer have an India sponsorship program, we are grateful for the lives changed and meaningful work achieved through our sponsors and donors in our nearly 50 years there. For a detailed explanation of the end of our sponsorship program in India, please visit: compassion.com/india-update.
Indian student Maggie nurses her father. She feeds him, dresses him and washes him. Not so long ago, her father systematically abused her.
“I hope that he will show repentance before his death. I believe that God has a plan with our family, and so I care for him, instead of shutting myself off from him.”
Maggie was in the Netherlands in January and told us her life story:
I grew up in the slum Nichu in Kolkata. ‘Nichu’ means lower. Not because of it’s location, but because of our low mentality. The people who live here are penniless, and almost no one believes that his or her life can improve.
We had a small house, without toilet and bathroom. It was very noisy — traffic sounds, lots of fights and people watching movies.
I talk about it as if it were in the past, but I live still in the same house, in the same neighborhood.
“There was no sense in dreaming.”
When I was young, my father had a good office job. I loved him. But as I grew up, I noticed that he wasn’t there for me. He never loved us. He lived in our house with us, but that was all.
He almost always spent his salary on alcohol and gambling. When I was 5 or 6 years old, he lost his job.
I knew that there was no sense in dreaming. My situation would never change. There was no prospect of a better future, so I did not dream.
When I was 5 years old, I was taken into a Compassion child development center, which was run by the Salvation Army. When I was 15 years old my father left. He simply disappeared. We didn’t know where he had gone or why.
We soon discovered that he had debts. His creditors began to threaten us. They threatened that they would kidnap us and sell us to the sex industry. My mother no longer dared leave us home alone and stayed with us all day.
Because of this she could not work and our food was soon gone. Fortunately, I was fed every day at the child development center. I decided to secretly fold my lunch in my dress and to take it home with me.
Beaten with a belt
When I was 18 years old, I thought that everything was my fault. That is what my father always used to say to me. He beat me, called me names and blamed me for all the misery.
At some point I started to believe it more and more, and felt more and more responsible. This is why I sacrificed my food for three years and gave it to them.
When I was almost 19 years old, my father came back unexpectedly. He had been gone for 5 years. We thought that he had changed perhaps, that he had work and would bring money home.
But he was more addicted than ever. He drank a lot and beat my little brother with a belt. Later he started to beat me and my mother.
I was broken
Thankfully I was allowed to participate in Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. That meant that I could accomplish my dream: to become a teacher. I want to help children, understand their situation and be a mother to them. I can do something for them.
And yet this wasn’t just an opportunity. I also experienced it as a burden since I had to study a lot and could not use that time to earn money for home. During the day I was at school, in the evening I earned some money and at night I studied.
Letters from my sponsors
My father was angry that I was going to study further and worked that off with the help of his belt. But my teachers at the center were like fathers and mothers to me. They were always there to listen to me and love me.
In that time I felt inferior to the other children. But they taught me that I truly belonged.
As a result, I grew to believe that I am important and can make something of my life. My sponsor’s letters also played a very large part in this. They were like love letters to me.
Hope for forgiveness
In spite of everything that has happened, I want to look after my parents. My father can no longer run and talk, because he has had a number of strokes. Before, he called me names.
When he did that, was I furious. But now I take care of him. Sometimes I am angry when I think about what he has done to me. But I feel that God asks me to take care of him.
I want be there for him until his death. I hope that he will accept us in the last period of his life and will ask for forgiveness.
Poverty is a virus that eats at people. It’s very difficult get rid of it. It is only possible if you are very resolute. You need someone who will continue speaking truth to you.
When things are difficult, I think of God’s promises. I think about how He has promised never to leave me and that He has good plans for me. That helps me through it. I also remind myself that my troubles are only short lived.