“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trips. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.
This report from the November 2011 mission awareness trip to India will come in two parts: Annamary’s story and the rest of the trip.
Bob: Let me start with the inspiring story of Annamary, 11, a sponsored girl from a remote village in CFCA’s project in Bhalgalpur. What a joy for our sponsors to meet this young woman. What follows are Annamary’s own words.
Annamary: In the village where I live, there are about 100 families.
No electricity, no running water, no cooking gas and no toilets.
When the villagers have no work, women go to the forest to collect firewood.
Men get drunk and fight, and the children are always in their natural dress playing in the village lanes. I know this, because I was born in this village.
Like the other villagers, we live in a mud hut. There is my Papa, Sushil. He is always out looking for a job.
Every morning, my Mummy left us in her best dress. I did not know where she went. When I was 4, I had the job of babysitting my younger sister, Dolly, 6 months.
One day, I asked Mummy, “Where do you go every morning?”
“To the school,” she answered. She added she takes care of nursery children, which pays for our daily food.
“Mummy, please take me to your school,” I said.
“No, my child. Mummy does not earn enough for a school dress, for your shoes and socks, for your books and bag. When Daddy gets a job, I will take you to school.”
The following morning Mummy was ready for school. I hid behind a bush and slowly followed her unnoticed.
When she reached school, only then she noticed me. She yelled at me, “Get back home, Annamary.”
I ran into the playground, and all the children came around me.
They had uniforms. They had ties. They had shoes. Black shoes. White socks. And I was in the school without one piece of clothing on me.
A religious Sister came to my rescue. She gave me an old dress from someone, and I sat in the class that day … and from then on every day.
The parish priest gave a form to Mummy. “Fill it out and send to CFCA,” he told Mummy. Mummy started filling it out. It was a request for someone to find a sponsor for me.
God was very kind and heard our prayers. We received the good news from Kansas City: “I am sponsored.”
In our family prayers, we added the names of my sponsor friends, Susan and David, Jennifer and Nicholas.
Papa got a job as a peon (office assistant), and Mummy at a public school in the same district.
All of us moved to Jamui and rented a room. This one room is our study room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen.
The school bus comes at our door at 7 a.m. When my younger sister Dolly joined school, Mummy said: “Girls, we cannot afford to send you both by bus. Both of you start walking to school.”
Two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) up and two kilometers down.
I had a bicycle given to me by my sponsors. One day, Mummy asked me, “Annamary, can you both ride on the same bicycle to school?”
“Yes, Mummy,” I said. I was excited.
Everything went well until a street dog chased us in the middle of the market. We fell down. I was flat on the road, the bicycle flat on me, and Dolly flat on the bicycle.
Our bags, books and lunch were scattered on the street, and the street dogs were enjoying our lunch.
Today, I am a student in elementary school. I am sorry for my friends in my home village. They have not been to school at all. I am the only one from my village to study in an English school.
Mummy is an active member of a CFCA mothers group. Recently she bought a scooter with a loan from her mothers group.
Their meetings are in our village. They talk about the village, their family and the local CFCA children.
One day, a teacher in my class asked us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Dolly answered, “A policewoman.”
Papa said, “You are too young to think about that.”
Mummy said to me, “When you finish your studies, you can become a nurse.”
“A nurse?” I thought. “Why can’t I become a doctor?”
Yes, I want to become a doctor. I will be a doctor.
I want to serve the poor, suffering and needy. May God bless me to achieve this goal.