I want to introduce you to Sarujeni.
She is a beautiful woman, a beautiful woman to whom life has done its very worst. Sarujeni lives in a village called Bantumilli, located in the hottest state in India, Andrah Pradesh. Her village is deep in the holds of poverty; most people either live in slums or don’t have a place to live at all. The need here is overwhelming, and you can see it in the people’s eyes. You can see it even in the childrens’ eyes.
Sarujeni’s frame is thin. In the tiredness of her eyes and in the age of her walk, you can see what life has done to this beautiful woman. You can see how deep hurt and sorrow has ripped the joy from her heart and the health from her bones. Sarujeni has been to hell and back.
It all began when her husband became a drunkard and instead of providing, began taking. Whatever little money Sarujeni could come up with, her husband would steal for the bottle.
Next Sarujeni had her first child, who was born with a cleft lip. Because she had no money, and had no way of making money, her first child died.
Then she had her second child, who was born with a cleft lip. It was only a matter of time before her second child joined the first.
It didn’t end there. Sarujeni had a third child, who again was born with a cleft lip and died.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain. I cannot begin to imagine the hopelessness. I cannot begin to imagine the toll that losing three children in a row would have on someone. Three children in a row to a disease that is treatable.
Sarujeni now has her one precious son, Narash. He was born with a cleft lip like his three other siblings. Sarujeni is currently seeking, well, begging, for help to save Narash’s life.
In the midst of these tragic circumstances, a small burden has been lifted for Sarujeni. Instead of having to walk 2 km to get water, she is now able to get water from a clean water well from the church right there in her village. And not only that, but because of this well, our partners have come to meet Sarujeni. I personally watched the leader of our wells project in India, Charlie, hear her plea, see her need, and feel her pain. I watched as her story sank into his heart and stirred inside him. I watched him care for her, encourage her, and offer her hope. Our partners are actively seeking medical help for her son. Sarujeni is getting help. It’s our hope that little, beautiful, precious, Narash will live.
Even in the midst of the deepest struggles, hope is being found.
– written by Caleb Petersen, photo by Bailey Theisen, 2016