Update 2017: *Stephanie lives at Joy Home, a SCH foster home for school-aged girls, after her former foster mother returned to the US. She attends ASB (Anjali School for the Blind) at Courage Home Purple, where she practices Braille and learns other academics. She also attends off-site Braille training at a local institute for the blind. She is completely independent using her guide cane. She needs $215/month more to be fully sponsored. Sign up to sponsor her here!
Update 2015: *Stephanie has moved foster homes again after her former foster mothers returned to the US. She attends a private school called Devnar school for the blind with some other of her foster sisters who are also blind. She receives Braille training form a local institute and is attending ASB out of Courage Home Purple part-time.
Update 2013: *Stephanie now has two foster moms! She’s living in a wonderful apartment with her 12 foster sisters. You can read about *Stephanie, her sisters, and their foster moms, Carrie and Abby, at Carrie’s blog Life Is Being Found, or Abby’s blog Do Something India. *Stephanie has recently received a guide cane and learned to use it in less than 24 hours! She is now working on becoming more independent in her explorations and is opening up, learning to become more outspoken.
Dear, sweet Stephanie.
I’ve never met you. But I feel like I know you. I know that you’re 7 years old and attend a mainstream private English School for the Blind where you continue to grow, learn, and thrive. I know you are very close friends with *Jeanette, since you go to school together, and I know you’re also very close to *Phoebe because I’ve read SCH’s blog pretty much all the way back to its beginning. I know you’ve just moved into a smaller, family-style apartment with 4 of your brothers and sisters. I know you have a very soft, beautiful voice and like to sing. I know that you have some of the cutest dimples on the planet, you’re getting bigger and more beautiful every day, that you’re feeling comfortable enough to begin coming out of your shell and talk with the people around you. I know you are absolutely stunning in white.
The fact that you are blind does not define you. *Stephanie, there are so many things that make up the whole you, and being blind is just a (tiny) part of that whole. You are pretty, smart, and healthy. You continue to make strides every day, and amaze the people around you with your openness and your willingness to let others see the true you is a gift that you may not yet understand, but some day you will. You are going to go so far in life, and I can tell you this because you have the ability to persevere. I know from old blog posts that you understand the details of your abandonment, which saddened me a little, but I know that you are so strong because you have overcome this with all the grace and poise imaginable.
I sit here writing this at nearly 2:00 in the morning, my time, but in India you are in the middle of your Friday. Perhaps you are at school, learning all you can learn, soaking up all the knowledge and understanding you can possibly contain in the pursuit of the best education possible. I hope this is the case. Or maybe, you’re taking a break from all that to have lunch. Perhaps you are talking with your friends, or maybe you are doing something else. I wonder if someone reading this would think it odd that I’m writing a letter to you when I have never met you. I would have to tell them, that it’s because I feel a special connection with you. I have no idea why – you just seem like such an endearing, lovable little girl, and if I were old enough, I would love to be able to adopt you if at all possible.
I’m so glad you live at SCH, *Stephanie, because I know that you are well taken care of there. I am really hoping that through SCH, you are able to reach full sponsorship. Because you deserve it. You deserve the nutritious food, clean drinking water, necessary medical care, loving caregivers, clean clothes to wear, a warm bed to sleep in, and the roof over the home it provides for you. You deserve to have a village of people, whether nearby or from around the globe, who are contributing to your daily well-being with monthly donations that ensure you continue to receive this level of basic human need satisfaction, if not better. And since you’re attending school, you also deserve to have the basic items you need, like a uniform, backpack, lunchbox, and of course tuition funds, which is why I am also hoping that someone will be able to step up and fulfill your school sponsorship needs as well. But what I hope for you most of all, Stephanie, is that you grow up healthy and happy. That one day you have a great job and your own home, that you have someone very special to marry and that you may have a family of your own someday, just as every person deserves. What ever that means for you, I may never know. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to be adopted. What a different adventure that would be for you! My final hope for you is that, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, that you’re happy in every aspect of your life.
I hope that one day I get to meet you and give you a great big ol’ hug, a kiss on the cheek, and tell you that I keep you in my thoughts all the time, wishing that you have all your heart’s desire. I will continue to advocate for you for as long as you may need it, even through I am not able to make a large commitment to your sponsorship. I will continue to share your story on as many platforms as I can think, and send my positive thoughts to you each and every day until you have your sponsorship needs covered; but I won’t stop then. I’ll keep you in my heart forever, I promise. If you ever have the chance to read this, I hope you know that you are loved.
An important part of SCH’s work is YOU! SCH relies on donations to keep running. Donation opportunities include monthly child sponsors at any cost per month, from as low as $25/month. Sponsorship usually costs between $300 and $500 per child, depending on complexity of needs and which city they live in (Ongole or Hyderabad).
You can sponsor any child who needs additional funding at SCH by using the resources found here. Use these resources to get involved in other ways, such as becoming an advocate or volunteering. You can also become a medical sponsor (ideal for large groups or organizations who wish to support SCH) and donate toward monthly emergency medical expenses; or become an educational sponsor and donate toward a specific on-site school. Learn about other ways to give charitably to SCH here, and check back often for additional opportunities.
*A note about names: SCH uses online nicknames for the children in order to protect their identity, per Indian governmental guidelines which state that children in care may not have identifying photos of them on the internet, as well as no identifying information such as birth name, place of origin, etc.