What little girl doesn’t long for closeness and time with her mommy? Yet little Yema* and her sisters knew very little of such a precious bond. Why? The story almost defies belief.
The family lived in one of the poorest Indian states and home to a vast number of unreached people. Unable to meet even the basic needs of his family, Yema’s father concocted a bizarre role for his hapless wife and demanded that she fulfill it day in and day out. Poverty and malnutrition sometimes thrust the desperate into making decisions that treat logic and morality with contempt.
Clothed in her best sari, adorned with jewelry, heavy makeup, and flowers on her head, Yema’s mom perched on an elevated platform encircled with colorful banners. Loud music blared with the hopes of drawing and deceiving would-be worshippers to her, the ‘goddess’. As money was tossed at her feet from gullible worshippers, Yema’s mother’s heart must have cried out, “What am I doing? How long must this charade go on? Will the money offered to me ’in worship’ today satisfy my husband and meet our family’s needs?” Day after day the hoax went on. Day after day—although they were aware of their economic plight—the cries of the three little daughters for their mother’s attention, caring and love went unanswered.
This kind of deception takes a toll. One evening when the husband returned home fully under the influence of alcohol, he picked a squabble with his wife that quickly escalated. As anger turned to madness, he struck her fatally on the head, killing her on the spot. The goddess episode ended abruptly and the wicked man paid the price of his evil with a life sentence in prison.
At very tender ages, the innocent children became motherless at the violent hand of their very own father. The physical reality dwarfed in the face of the emotional, psychological trauma that impacted them. Their faith offered no hope. Their parents’ teaching and example offered no foundation. And no relative or neighbor stepped forward to provide shelter and care.
The oldest girl, just 10, knew she had to step up; there was no other choice. She sought household work in homes as a maid. Even younger Yema was forced to take such jobs when she could get them. One or the other of the girls had to carry their toddler sister with them to their jobs as there was no one to care for her. Such desperation is almost too graphic to comprehend.
Wonderfully, God intervened through a Good Samaritan who introduced Yema to the Orchard Project: Cherry**.
A visitor to the Home asked Yema, “How do you feel coming to this big family with so many sisters?” Although she speaks Hindi now, which she has learned in school; where she has been privileged to attend since arriving at the Home; she answered in the native tongue of her people, “I am very happy in this home.” Her eyes sparkled with the joy coming from her heart. Yes, finally the cries of her heart were being heard and answered by her houseparents and God!
Later, she whispered in the visitor’s ear, unprompted, “This is my home; I have no other. The house-parents are my parents. God has blessed me with a family of so many sisters and brothers.” What an attitude of gratitude she carries! No bitterness, no rebellion, no revenge. All she has to testify is that she is thankful for all that God has done in her life.