PD: Black & white photo taken from above of *Stephanie as she walks along the pavement, using her guide cane in her R hand. You can see the top of her head & beginning of a braid! She’s wearing an embroidered kurta.
Update 2017: *Stephanie now attends Anjali School for the Blind part-time. She also takes Braille training at a local institute for the blind with fellow foster sister *Victoria. She is much more vocal and navigates her environment well using her guide cane.
PD: *Stephanie wears a blue top w/ white embroidery, pink headband, & her hair in 2 braided pigtails. You can see her huge smile (& dimple!), but her name is written over her eyes to protect her identity.
You and I are a lot alike. We are both timid, quiet, shy. We have both triumphed over our fears lately. We are both sensitive, and caring, and soft-spoken. We both take time to adjust to new situations, and to try new things. Sometimes, we have to do something over and over before we feel confident enough to do it on our own. Like when you learned how to push your smaller sisters in the swing. And sometimes, we let others speak for us or don’t speak up, even though we could, which we are starting to overcome. We both have helper’s hearts and love people.
Perhaps this is why I feel I have such a strong connection to you, even though we’ve never met, and we may never meet, but I look forward to the day I can give you a hug, or sit with you and hold your hand, like I’ve heard you enjoy doing. I look forward to the day I can walk down the road with you in your city, and eat ice cream or go to the zoo or wherever you want to go. I look forward to the day I can meet you in person, but even if that never happens, please know that I love you and you will always be in my heart, no matter where you are and no matter where I am.
I whole-heartedly wish everything good in the world for you. I hope your forever family will find you every day. I hope you always remember that you are loved, far and wide, by many people across this earth. I hope you always remember that you are powerful. And even though you may think you aren’t, you most certainly are! Girls can do anything, and I know that you will do great things in life. Great things, though, don’t have to be big or grand. They can simply mean that you bring joy to someone’s life in some way. They can simply mean a smile across the room, or a kind word to someone who is hurting.
I know you are no stranger to heartbreak. And that hurts me every time I think about it. You’ve endured much more negativity than you should have ever had to experience in your short life. And this is why I am so glad you have found a temporary place to which you can belong in SCH. After all, we are all temporary on this earth. We will all leave it some day. So that is why we need to try to live every day to its fullest potential.
*Stephanie, you are an amazing girl. When I heard you learned to use your first guide cane in less than 2 days, I was ecstatic! When I heard you now get to attend school, a special school that is fit to your personal needs, I nearly wept with joy. Because everyone deserves education, but more than that, everyone deserves an education that fits their needs specifically. I don’t ever want you to feel like you don’t have worth, or are less than someone else, ever again, regardless of how you’ve felt in the past in this respect. I love that you are finding your voice!
I think I am finally finding my voice, too, but at a much later time than you have. I’m 23, and I am just now becoming comfortable at speaking up about what is right for me, as well as others. It took learning about incredible ladies who are even younger than me, or a few years older, who are doing great things in India and at SCH. And it took learning about you, overcoming obstacles and becoming an independent young woman. An extraordinary young woman, with poise, independence, and a heart full of joyful noise. I love how much you love your siblings, even if they aren’t biologically related. I want you to know that you are a very special person.
You have overcome so many obstacles that should never have been put in your way in the first place, because you were made to overcome them. And you do.
I love that you love music. Playing the keyboard is something I would never have the patience to learn! That is a huge accomplishment, to find something in which you are interested at such a young age. I love that you love your family. I love that you are attending school and learning how to read Braille.
This important skill is going to open up a whole new world of knowledge to you! I love that you are a girl, because girls are powerful! Girls can change the world. Stephanie, I want you to know, that being blind does not define you. Being quiet does not define you. Being an orphan doesn’t define you. Even being a girl doesn’t define you. You are defined on your own terms.
Please know that your current and previous foster mothers love you. Your future families love you. Sarah loves you. People all over the world love you. I love you. And, Jesus loves you too (I heard this is your favourite song)! You are not alone. You are never alone in this world. Even if you feel alone, or there is no one physically around, you are most certainly not alone.
You are in my heart, and in the hearts of many others, like Carrie, Abby, Jenny, and Marla. You will be in the hearts of your future foster parents. You will be in the hearts of your future adoptive parents. You are in the heart of God, and he made you perfectly.
I have high hopes for you, my girl. I want you to find your forever family. I want you to grow up and change the world. I want you to become independent, to become a wife if what that is what your heart desires, to become a mother if that is what your heart desires. I want you to go to college, or a trade school, or some form of higher education, so you can pursue your dream job or career. I want you to own your own home, have pets if you want them, and I want you to be surrounded by people who love you.
Because you are worth it. You are worth everything. Overall, I want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be able to have a range of emotions that aren’t restricted by social stigma or outdated superstition or any other obstacle. You deserve total autonomy. You deserve so, so much. And you will get it!
An important part of SCH’s work is YOU! SCH relies on donations to keep running. Donation opportunities include child sponsorship 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 the city in which they live (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! Also, here is the link to SCH’s general fund. In addition, you can give a one-time donation to any home by visiting each home’s landing page on SCH’s official website, under the heading “Meet Our Kids”! 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 government 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.