I started the year of 2018 with a grateful heart. I have spent the past 10 days in India on the Wilmington Yoga Studio yoga service retreat. During this service retreat, we spent our time with the girls at the Homes of Hope Orphanage. As well as spending our time being with the girls, we also used our time to paint their bunk beds as our service project. 
Reflecting on this experience, it is difficult to find words to describe it because it was something I feel one has to experience on their own and see for themselves. Although, I want to write about this time because of the strong passion I hold for serving the girls at Homes of Hope orphanage and I feel that it is important for others to become aware of how they can help these girls to. 
Homes of Hope rescues girls from the horrors of the street. At the Homes of Hope orphanage, the girls are loved, fed, and are able to receive an education. They are able to regain their childhood as well as prepare themselves for the future. Girls who have once came in ragged clothes and sadness in their souls are now able to become nurses, office workers, fashion designers and computer programmers. They are breaking the cycle of poverty. The girls have been rescued from poverty, sex trafficking, being easy prey for sexual predators, domestic slavery, physical assaults, abusive homes, refugee camps, malnutrition, or having no access to education.
The orphanage started out with very limited resources. When the orphanage first began, the girls were sleeping on mats on the ground and they now have two rooms with bunk beds. The orphanage has now grown in size and consists of a garden, church, spacious backyard, a playground, lots of delicious food from the Chef, and birds in cages as their pets! The sisters of the home provide the girls with love, care and teach them how to take responsibility for themselves.
This experience has opened my eyes to a new culture in general and the lifestyle of the girls at the orphanage. I feel so much gratitude for this opportunity because it has allowed me to gain a shift in perspective. It has allowed me become mindful of the way that other cultures live in the world. It is so easy for us to take the simple things in life for granted and this trip has made me realize the value of having more than one pair of shoes or having two parents who care for me.
When coming onto this trip I knew that I was going to love spending time with the girls but I didn’t realize the connection created with the girls would end up being so strong. The minute that we arrived at the orphanage the girls were yearning for connection, love, and a new friend. I felt like I was back in kindergarten because making friends with the girls was so easy. They radiate an open heart that is easy to love. It was only after the first day I was being called one of the sisters and I had even created a “best friend handshake” with one of the girls. It was amazing for me to see the positivity and joy the girls show despite their circumstances.
As the week went on and we continued to visit the orphanage, my heart became attached to the girls. We spent time doing various things such as coloring, dancing, blowing bubbles, painting nails, playing in the garden, going to a water park, taking pictures (the girls love phones!) and simply just spending time with them. It was definitely one of the hardest things saying goodbye on the last day!
When spending time with the girls, I observed the gratitude that they hold. They do not take anything for granted and they never leave a plate with food on it. When we went to Wanderla (the water park), I admired the smiles that I saw each time they stepped on a ride or played in the water jungle gym. It wasn’t like anything I had seen before. I noticed that it filled them with joy knowing they had the chance to wave to you while on a ride or have a picture of them taken. I am filled with happiness knowing that I could be that person for them and knowing that we were able to give them opportunity to go to an adventure park like this. 
I see so much talent and potential in each of them in their own ways. I believe their spirit and strength will continue to grow and allow them to succeed in life. One of my favorite things to do was to ask them what they wanted to be when they were older. I continued to tell the girls to keep dreaming because anything is possible. Each time I find myself in sadness thinking about them or my heart is hurting for the girls, I am reminded that it is a blessing knowing that these girls are safe, healthy and have a place to call home where they are not being harmed. These girls were an inspiration to me and hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life.
I realize that there are so many other children out there who have not been rescued and I will continue to pray for those out there. From this experience, I intend to continue donate to the Homes of Hope orphanage and stay mindful when I am feeling greedy or having a rough day. I am eager to continue to help these girls fulfill their dreams so they can reach their full potential.
If you wish to help out the girls, please click the link below. The littlest bit helps out!