We love leading Media Missions. We believe that artists have been gifted with a creative talent and we love empowering them to use their talents to advocate for orphaned and vulnerable children. There has been a lot of talk recently about the negative side effects of volunteers visiting orphanages, and while we agree that visiting certain orphanages and conducting certain behavior can be unhealthy, we partner with organizations who love and protect their children well. Which means, when we come into an ethically run organization, the children know we are there to tell their stories and to give them a voice. They know we are only there short term and that we truly do care about them. They see our team as fun new friends who get to have a fun week together but when we leave they are left with their constant and trustworthy guardians, who do not leave or abandon them.
In March we spent a few weeks with some of the most amazing children and staff on the India/Nepal boarder. During our second week there, we had a team of artists come and volunteer their storytelling abilities to GSAM. During our week together we educated each team member about the ethical sides of orphan care and challenged the way they viewed ‘orphans’ and ‘orphanages’. We blogged about our time with The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission here, here, and here upon our return and now, this week, we are so excited to bring you some guest posts by our Media Mission Team Members!
Today, we would like to introduce you to the Potorke family! Steven and Jacki are a husband and wife duo who traveled to India all the way from California. Steven is an incredibly gifted writer while, Jacki, is one talented photographer! Together they have teamed up to bring you the article below!
Nestled against the dense Northern Indian jungle, and within eyesight of the Himalaya Mountains, children’s laughter and calls for attention ring. “Uncle” and “Sister,” “Auntie” and “Brother” echo across the fields and playground. Like our own nieces and nephews, these children are in constant wonder, wrapped in smiles and stories. They study, play, and finish their chores like any other child. They ask about the world, pull our arms toward a recent discovery, and are always poised for a hug and to share their minds.
The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission (or…The Farm) is like any home you can conjure. It’s organized, and not so organized. There’s the hierarchy of age, and the unspoken necessity to concern oneself with the smaller ones. There’s work to be done, relaxation to relish, and comfort in visitors. Grey hair, lepers, toddlers, elders, and teens. Hospitality and Grace sit supreme in this house.
We rise every day with the sun. The rustle and squeak of bicycles float under our room, and music careens over the loudspeakers. Breakfast is simple but filling: porridge and bread made from the wheat. There is hot chai, and cream to cover the toast. Only a short distance away, the children walk proudly, hand-in-hand on their way to school. Saluting and cheering in their clean yellow and green uniforms. While they’re at school, the adults gather for tea time, and gauge the day and what it may bring. After morning studies, the children file back from school…they share snacks earned for good grades, and the drudge of exams. The cows lazily make their way through the playground to graze. Spicy vegetables and hot chapati bread are the best lunch, prepared with the tender care of many cooks. After, some choose to nap and refresh. Or walk down to the dry river bed, thirsty for monsoon season. Or catch up under the shade of an awning. Or challenge another team to an intense game of cricket. At sundown, the dinner bell rings with fresh curries wafting from metal pots. The children share salt and hot chillies from the garden. Some nod off…and others grow more animated about the day. 7pm comes and it’s “inside time.” A barrage of hugs ensues, and “I love yous” dance through the air.
To be continued…