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My hero friends in India

In 2011 I was busy making a documentary in India when we were taken to a children's home in Amritsar in Punjab state. I met Vijay Kumar then, the kind of human we all should be like. As a child, he suffered from polio and lost full mobility in his legs. The result is that he has to use a walking frame and rides around on a three-wheeled motorcycle. He was not married then but when he married it was to this amazing person, Anju who also has mobility challenges with her legs. Nonetheless, they have given their lives to children whose lives are at risk of neglect, vulnerable, have massive food insecurities and are always at risk of violence and abuse.

Vijay started a children's home in 2006 with his sister which he and Anju now runs. It inspires me that two individuals who might have a sense of entitlement because of their conditions live lives the exact opposite. Their mission is to help others in spite of their own disabilities. There was a time when I was able to raise money for them and there have been more challenging times when my capacity and resources have not allowed me to do more.

A children's home does not only have orphans, it has some orphans. They assess the situation of any child and considering their own capacity decide to take in a child or not. These children might have one parent left who is mentally ill or physically disabled and cannot care for their child who is then left to fend for themselves. Many examples can be given here but in the context of India's poverty and disparity, children are vulnerable by the millions even with living family. They can find themselves dying because of hunger, on the streets and exposed to numerous abuse. So children come to Vijay and Anju's children's home for school semesters and go back home, if they have family, for the holidays.

Their name is typically Indian and long-winded but it makes me love them even more. The Divine Helping Hand Charitable Society is small and cares, on and of, for about 14 children as their capacity allows them. What they do for children with very little money is not just commendable, it is heroic.

I have not seen them since 2016 and would love for that to change soon. Vijay needs a new 3-wheeled motorcycle and I hope to start a small fundraiser for that soon. He uses it to buy groceries, take children to the doctor, buy equipment, church, you name it. It is their only vehicle and the old one is beat up.

Oh by the way their little boy in the photo is Vishvash and he literally is a miracle because of Anju's condition. Below is a group photo with the kids in 2016 and some individual photos of their smiling faces.

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