Written By: Anna Tsentsiper

Coming to India has been an eye opening experience. I can definitely say that I am not in Michigan anymore…or anywhere close to the life I have known and have unknowingly taken for granted. By coming to the Anbarasi Children’s Home in south India and being driven in an auto rickshaw through the streets – all I can say is WOW!

There are people in this world who survive without things like clean water, constant electricity, flushing toilets, showers, mattresses to sleep on, etc. Girls at Anbarasi play with dolls that are half bald and have very little clothing. This is incredible considering little girls in the United Sates sometimes get their dolls from the American Girl store where a bed for the doll costs $100. Until one sees what true poverty actually is, it is completely unimaginable. When my family came to the United States from Russia, we were considered a low-income family. Five of us lived in a small apartment, we were on food stamps, and my grandpa often went dumpster diving. Despite how poor we were, that was absolutely nothing compared to the level of poverty the poorest of the poor in India experience. We still had electricity, water, beds, and flushing toilets. I can go on and on about the poverty I have seen around me, however, that will only touch the surface of what I have experienced in India thus far. Despite the fact that the poor people in India have so little, they seem a lot happier than a lot of the people in America who are far better off.

Yesterday was our 5th day in India. We started our day with a trip to the flower market, filled with the beautiful scent of brightly colored flowers that seem to brighten up the surroundings and make the world a better place. We had so much fun at the flower market :). We saw an elderly woman with two nose studs who was absolutely adorable. She was so happy when we took her picture. She was just delighted to see her face on the camera screen. We then realized we had a person in our group with stretched ears just like her. The two of them stood together to be photographed. After a couple of pictures the lady walked away back to her flower stand, laughing about her encounter with us. It was an awesome moment! I left the market with a bouquet of roses that I wish I could take back home with me.

At the children’s home we painted the walls of the girls bathroom. Working with 150 children can sometimes get tricky. As we continue painting, we hear, “me paint auntie”, and out of the corner of our eyes, we see the younger children painting the trees, the ground, and everything else that is not part of the painting plan :). When they weren’t painting, they were asking for “just one photo….me next”. The children are absolutely fascinated by cameras and just one photo turns into 10. We then played a lot of hand clapping games and catch. I taught them how to play rock-paper-scissors, which they seemed to enjoy.  Although we know very few words in Tamil, and the children know few words in English, it is incredible how it is still possible to connect with them and have a blast hanging out together!

One part of the day that really was heart warming for me was when one little girl was asking me about my family. She asked me “how old is your father?” To that I said, “my father died”. The little girl responded “I feel…..”.