Through His infinite mercy and the generosity of so many of our friends, we were able to make Ramadan extra special for our children in all our homes.
We were able to provide special iftars (dinners to break the fast) for our children in all our homes. We also were able to buy new Eid clothes for all our kids, including 300 boys at Darussunat Bangladesh orphanage which by itself costed almost $5000.
This year, Dian had the fortune to travel to our Aceh home and spend five blessed days with our children. Below is her account along with pictures of our children from different homes.
I arrived in our Aceh home at 3:30 am after being on the road for 24 hours. I was not able to get on a flight from the nearest largest town and had to take the next available option – a taxi ride. The 14-hour ride on the long winding road was exhausting, especially while fasting. But I was so happy to be back after 2 years of longing to be in my hometown and to spend precious time with the kids I adore.
The next few days were filled with fun activities, preparation for competition in different areas, as well as fasting and praying together. We had our sahoor (pre-dawn meal), dawn prayer, read Quran then rested a little before we moved on to our next set of activities, which included yoga, art, reading more Quran, a ride around town, and the best part – getting to choose our favorite food for dinner.
One of the things the children have been anticipating was shopping for Eid clothes with me. I took eight girls to the market and we went to many stores before four of them found what they liked. We were all exhausted but the four girls were all smiles. The next day the rest of the house went shopping but this time I gave them the money and waited for them to come with their own choice of clothing. More freedom for them and less tiring for me.
The kids know that I always like them to engage in healthy competition, which usually includes speech and math competition, sport activities, hiking and swimming in the lake . However, due to Ramadan we limited ourselves to activities that were not too physically demanding. So this time we had three categories of competitions: math, storytelling and Qur’anic memorization.
All kids participated in at least one area and a few in all three. They were so excited because there were prizes to be won. Many kids were shy when they first came to our home but over time and with encouragement they became more confident and looked composed when presenting their stories. Several children won more than one prize and one girl really stood out – 12-year-old Qori – as she won the first place in all three categories! She did an amazing job with her storytelling and captivated the entire audience with her poise, eloquence and ability to enact her characters.
For my farewell, the children surprised me with beautiful performances; a dance by four of our youngest girls, a traditional sing-along called “Didong”, which uses well-orchestrated hand claps that build momentum from slow to fast. They had saved the best part for last: a deeply moving poetry reading by Saina who also wrote the poem she recited. Here’s the poem:
We dont know what we can do to repay
your love, mother
As beautiful and dazzling as diamonds on gem-crusted earth
Your love mother, as sincere as the love
of The Most High God to His slaves
Your love mother,
Since the beginning has never diminished
always running through my blood
Your love will embrace me until the end of my life I cant ever repay
You dont ask for gold nor jewels
but you only want me to rise to achieve my goals
and a bright future
Oh Most loving God,
We thank you for giving us
a parent as kind as our mother
Her love is unconditional
We hope this beautiful house of ours
Is filled with prayers that will take you to the highest of places
Thank you for being a beautiful
inspiration in our lives
~Written by Saina Afrisa, 15 years old
June 1st, 2016
I was not able to hold my tears and I saw that all the girls cried too. It was such a moment of bonding for all of us. We went to bed at midnight after the last performance.
The next morning about 20 of the kids packed our minibus and went to the airport to see me off. On the road, we made supplications for all who made Givelight possible. We also sang songs. Then came time to say goodbye and it was very difficult. We hugged and cried.
As the plane took off, I started reading the letters they wrote for me.
How genuine and beautiful their words were. Some wrote long letters, some especially the boys only wrote a few lines but they ended with “I love you forever”. More tears and smiles.
I watched from the window the dense trees lining up the mountains and valleys of my birth place. Although I will travel thousands of miles away, my heart will always be attached to this land and it has no choice but to love the children whom God has so generously bestowed upon me.
July 2nd, 2016