Rupa, stick-thin and acid-scarred, lay under the seat at a local bus stop - her mattress just a tattered sari. Playing around her are her 3 kids - Konica (10), Monica (8) and Dev (6). I have been visiting this family (names changed to protect them) over the past few weeks. Like the parable of the Good Samaritan - most people just walk past this family. The kids are often begging at the corner trying to find scraps to eat and leftovers. They love their mum and sometimes just sit and stroke her arm. On Friday, after not visiting for a week because of a trip to another province - I went down to check on them. Rupa could barely speak and had lost even more weight - and could barely move. She finally pleaded with me - please look after my kids, I'm not going to live much longer - who will take care of them...
She is from a village just north of our city, but when she was diagnosed as HIV positive her husband left her and her kids outside a metro station and she has never seen him again. Now at just 28 years old, with 2 girls and a boy, she has been living on the street for about 2 years and her life will be measured in days or barely weeks.
Yesterday, after a few days of co-ordination with various organisations - Rupa will be able to spend her last days in care within a Mother Teresa Home. Her children are now in care where they will go to school, eat well, and the trajectory of their lives will be changed. They will have counselling and the best available care.
Today, I sit in my home, so grateful for the network of other organisations, grateful that the legacy of care within the Mother Teresa Homes is still strong, grateful for social workers and counsellors, grateful for a team who love, grateful for others that love children too.
Whilst emotional, I reflect on a day where a family knows they are loved and not abandoned, where a young mum will be loved and cared for in her last days and for children who will have a better future. In John's first letter we read about the command that the master has given us, that all who love the father must love their brother or sister also.... I feel privileged to have seen this in action this week.