• October 13, 2011

“A minute change in direction”
A volunteer’s testimonial from India

Kathleen L., American vol­un­teer in the “Garden of Mercy” - the Heart’s Home vil­lage in India - shares all the beauty she dis­cov­ered by befriending one Indian woman:

One of my sis­ters who has pro­pelled my mis­sion so much in the past three months, who has led me to under­stand the pres­ence of love and the pur­pose of suf­fering is Shanti. In case I haven’t given too much infor­ma­tion about her before – Shanti is a 34 year old HIV/AIDS patient who has been living in the Garden for about 4 years. She is gor­geous. She emits all of the immense Indian fem­i­ninity and grace that the women of this country are famous for. Which was a road block for me in the begin­ning of my stay in the Garden. When I was with her I felt like a muddy dog run­ning through a lux­u­ri­ously fur­nished house. And many days Shanti’s sick­ness made her anx­ious, tired, sullen. She expe­ri­enced so much phys­ical pain that she did not want to be around anyone.

Two months ago, Shanti had a tooth ache and had to have someone take her on the TVS (a mix between a motor­cycle and a scooter) to the den­tist once a week. I vol­un­teered. And some­thing incred­ible began to happen. We became friends. Or sis­ters. Or some strange cross between the two. I began to speak more softly in public, to comb my hair very neatly when we went to Chengalpett and to resist yelling at Tamil men who cut me off in traffic. And Shanti began to tell jokes!

Last week I was watching Shanti sew with a friend. And I saw her. I saw all of the little annoying things she does and simul­ta­ne­ously I saw the light that she is. The way that her beauty lights up a room. Her per­se­ver­ance through her sick­ness, the way she takes abso­lutely nothing for her­self in how amaz­ingly she cooks and sews, how she will love someone like me in the simple fact of wearing a green sari to a feast because I told her it’s the color she looks best in.

This is the mir­acle of this place. A turning, so small. A minute change in direc­tion. Tiny, but through this God comes to us. Love is here.

Back to top