Updates from the One Child Matters team, partners, and supporters.


A Day Through Johnny’s Eyes

Johnny

Hi, my name is Johnny and I am 17 years old. I live in Honduras with my parents and siblings. I just finished my high school education, and now I am looking at going to college. One of my favorite things to do is spend time with my friends playing games. Thanks for taking the time to learn about my day!


Johnny

This is the neighborhood where I live. You see that there are some kids walking with backpacks, and it reminded me of when I would go to school like they are. There are a lot of children in my neighborhood who don’t go to school, so I feel that there is a need for more education in this area.


Johnny

Here I am being a chef! Ha ha! I cook every day for myself and for my little brother and sisters. When I cook, I am showing them that men can also cook and help in the kitchen! Even though sometimes I make a mess…


Johnny

I took this photo when I woke up this morning. This is the view from my house, and every day I like to look outside and thank God for giving me another day of life. When I see God’s creation, I am reminded that He is good.


Johnny

Here is my little brother. I sometimes call him “The Little Terror” because he can be quite a handful sometimes. He’s only three years old.


Johnny

My littlest sister eating her breakfast. She is one year old.


Johnny

This was my breakfast this morning – some cookies and coffee.


Johnny

My little sister likes to be my little helper! She was helping me sweep and clean up the house, so we have a little broom for her to use.


Johnny

This is a picture after cleaning my house. I really like cleaning and how the house looks when I’m done, because everything is neat and its place.


Johnny

My whole family lives in this house. Both of my grandfathers live on the bottom floor, my family on the top floor, and my aunt in the back of the building. I like living so close to my family and seeing them often.


Johnny

This is my other little sister when she’s at school playing. She is five years old and is in Kindergarten.


Johnny

Here my little sister is taking a nap, and that’s my other little brother laying down with her.


Johnny

I really like to see people worshipping and praising God. I took this picture at the church service in our community.


Johnny

Our church has a worship dance team, and I have been in this ministry for one year. Our team name is “Shammah”, which means “the presence of God is here”. I love to dance, and I love that I get to dance at church. I like it because I feel like we are a bridge between the worship team and the congregation.


Johnny

This is our team leader for the worship dance team!


Johnny

The other chore that I do around the house is wash the clothes and put them away. These photos show a little bit of how I do that.


Johnny

This is my dad’s motorcycle. Ever since I was little I have loved motorcycles and cars, and I have always wanted one of my own. Now that my dad has one, I’m trying to get my license and learn how to drive it.


Johnny

This is what my church looks like from the front.


Johnny

Here is one of our practices for the worship dance team.


Johnny

This is the most important photo that I took, and it means so much to me. This is the drum set that is at my church.

I have had a dream of being a drummer ever since I was a very young child – I always wanted to be part of a band at school, or wherever I could! I played for a little while with a band in my neighborhood, but that did not last very long. But I always tell myself that it wasn’t the last time I will be part of a band.

Now, I work very hard and I pay attention to other drummers on the worship team at church, so that I can learn how to be better. That’s how I got introduced to the dance team, because I am very interested in worship music.

I am so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to start playing drums again at the church. I feel like my dreams are coming true. One day, I would love to play drums in big stadiums or even in other countries. I will keep working hard and hopefully get to someday.


Johnny

This is my dad. He is a very good man. My mom used to work a lot, so when I was little my dad would always stay home and be with me. It is now the time in my life when I can pay him back for what he has given me, which is why I help around the house as much as I can, like watching my siblings or doing chores. I don’t want to be a burden to them, so I want to help them. I’m very thankful to God that I have a father, because a lot of kids around here don’t have a dad at all.


Johnny

My mom is a very special person to me. I respect her so much, and I don’t ever want to misbehave or be disrespectful to her or my dad. She does correct me when I’m wrong, but she does it out of love to make me a better person. Both of my parents are a blessing to me, and I am so thankful for them.


Johnny

This is the director of the Hope Center that I attend, and she is very dear to me. I started attending the Hope Center when I was five years old, and I was a really bad kid. I probably gave her a lot of gray hairs, because I would misbehave and influence the other kids around me to do bad things.

One day she sat me down and looked me straight in the eyes. I remember being scared and nervous, ha ha. She gave me advice and told me that there are seasons in my life when I need to grow up and make some changes. She told me that when I’m young, I need to start learning and being better in preparation for these seasons.

She also told me that I need to be the same person outside of the church as I am inside. I will always remember that advice and I try hard to be that way.

She will sometimes use me as an example with some of the struggling kids in their classes as someone who has changed a lot. But she knows that they can change, because I did, and I was the worst of them all!


Johnny

This is my favorite teacher at the Hope Center. I’m very thankful because we have grown close and we talk a lot. He teaches me and helps me, and I know that everything he teaches us will be useful in the future. He gives great advice, and so I try to listen to what he has to say.


Thanks for sharing with us, Johnny! We are so impressed by the young man you have grown into, and know that you will continue to do great things that will make your family and your teachers proud!

A Day Through Kristhel’s Eyes

Cristhian

Hi, I’m Kristhel. I am 15 years old, and I live in Honduras. My dream one day is to become a businesswoman or a teacher, because I want to have a stable job and be able to provide for my loved ones. I know this takes a lot of hard work, so I study hard in school and do really well in my math and English classes. When I’m not studying, I like to listen to music, play tag, or jump rope with my friends. I hope you enjoy seeing a little bit of my day!


Cristhian

Sometimes during the school day, I like to go up to the 5th floor to look out at the sky. I do this because it gives me a few minutes to think about God, how He is beyond the sky and He is looking after me. God is the most important person in my life. He is always with me and He is my encourager to keep going when things get tough.


Cristhian

This is my best friend Johanna. We’ve known each other for a few years, and she is always making me laugh. I hang out with her and my cousins often, and we usually like to go out and eat baleadas (a Honduran street food).


Cristhian

I have a brother and a sister who are both younger than me. They are 13 and 4 years old. The day that I took this picture, my brother was sick with a headache and cough and stayed home from school. Because my mom works during the week as a maid, I will stay home and take care of them. My grandfather lives next door, but he works too, so he only comes to help us at night.


Cristhian

My father gave me this bear when I was 7 years old. When he was coming to visit one day, he brought me this bear as a special present. My stepfather was really jealous. My father is not around much; sometimes he calls and sometimes he doesn’t. But I like to keep this bear as a reminder of that day.


Cristhian

I consider my stepfather to be the real father in my life. That is a photo of him with a painting that he made. I remember we were eating fruit one day and he decided to paint a picture of it, because they were all my favorite fruits. So he made me a special painting. He passed away when I was 10 years old. This photo is a few years old now, but I love the reminder of him.


Cristhian

This is my teacher at the Hope Center. He really cares about us and always asks about how we are doing. He has helped me to become a leader in my age group because he will ask me questions first when others are a little shy. After I answer, the others feel more comfortable to answer. I like that I am learning to be a good example.


Kristhel, you are a great leader and have an inspiring story! Keep up all of your hard work and we know you will achieve your dreams!

A Day Through Juan’s Eyes

Jose

My name is Juan, and I am 14 years old. My family and I live in an area of Honduras that is known for mudslides, so it’s not the safest place to live. But my dream one day is to be a firefighter, so that I can help people who are in trouble. My parents work very hard as a photographer and a receptionist, but it is still hard to take care of my family. That’s why I am thankful I get to go to the Hope Center where I have hot meals, good education, and medical check-ups. Here is a small glimpse into my day!


Jose

This is my favorite dinner: Refried beans, chorizo, and a fried egg with juice! Yum!!


Jose

Some of my favorite fruits are avocados, mangos, and orange juice.


Jose

This is my family – my sister, my father, and my mother. I love these people the most out of anyone in the world. I took this picture when we were in the hospital because my father was not feeling well, but thankfully we were able to go home that night. He is feeling much better now.


Jose

I love my room, because it is where I go to relax. This is where I sleep at night. I like to call my room my bat cave – haha!


Jose

When I go to the Hope Center, I sometimes get to do some crafts. These are a few of the crafts that I have made. I painted a fruit basket; we made a penguin for Christmas time; and the most recent craft we did was a little wooden keychain.


Jose

One of my favorite hobbies is music. I used to play the bass on the worship team at church, and now I am running the sound board. I love learning about different aspects of music!


Jose

Every morning I read my devotional book. It’s a book for young people, and it always gives me an encouraging word in the morning before I go to school. It has a story and some scriptures to help me start my day.


Jose

I have a pretty nice view from my house! It looks very pretty in the mornings when the sky is different colors and it is peaceful outside. I also like looking out the window at night when all the lights are turned on and glowing.


Jose

My favorite sport is soccer – it’s one of the best things about my day. It’s my favorite thing in the world, to watch or to play. I am left footed, so I really like the left footed soccer starts that play in Europe.


Jose

This is the soccer field in my community where we play lots of games with other kids. I come here often because it is very close to my house.


Jose

This is Pietro, and he is the only cat I have ever had. I’ve had him for less than year. We have 6 cats in our house, but Pietro is mine!


Jose

This is where my Hope Center is and also where I go to church. I love that I get to come here all of the time. We learn a lot about God and we also get to play soccer, so I love that because they are my two favorite things. I also have a lot of friends here.

A Day Through Jose’s Eyes

Jose

My name is Jose and I am 14 years old. I live with my parents and siblings in Honduras where my father works as a janitor. My favorite subject is Spanish class, and in my free time I love to play ball with my friends and help my parents take care of my younger siblings. Someday, I will be a lawyer so that I can defend children just like me. Here is a look into my life!


Jose

This is David. He is not only my brother, but he is my best friend. He is very important to me, and I tell him absolutely everything. We sometimes fight like siblings do, but I love him so much. I live with him, my mother and father, sister, and grandmother.


Jose

One of my favorite places to be is outside in nature. I feel like I can breathe better; I feel more peaceful out there than anywhere else. I learned in school that trees give us oxygen, and for that I am thankful!


Jose

My chores at home are to sweep and mop the living room, my bedroom, and the stairs outside. If I don’t do my chores, I get in big trouble. My chores teach me that when I get older and have a family I also have to help clean – it’s not just my wife’s job. But I actually really like to sweep and mop.


Jose

I love music. Some of my favorite music is Christian Praise and Worship music. I love to sing in church when I go with my family every week. Right now, I really like the song “De Gloria en Gloria” and listen to it often.


Jose

When I go to the Child Development Center we make lots of crafts. These are two crafts that I made there – a penguin for Christmas and a purse for Mother’s Day. I like that I have the opportunity to make my mother gifts at the Child Development Center.


Jose

I believe that education is very important. I took this picture of my notebooks because I like to study. My favorite subject is Spanish.


Jose

Hygiene is also important to me, so I took a picture of my toothbrush.


Jose

I really like reading my Bible, but sometimes I decide to be lazy and don’t read it. I am working on being disciplined to read it every day. My favorite book is Philippians, and my favorite verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.


Jose

This is my soccer field where I go to play with my friends. Soccer is my favorite sport, so I play it all the time. I can only play, though, after I have finished all my chores and my homework.


Jose

Chicken soup with rice and tortillas is my favorite food! Yum!!


Jose

This is my school. I am in the 9th grade, and I like school because I have many friends there and I like to learn.

India Update: Darjeeling Strikes

Darjeeling

Darjeeling best known for its misty slopes and breath-taking views of the Himalayas isn’t quite the same anymore. Much is brewing and no, it is not the teas it is famed for.

In May of this year, the West Bengal government announced it would be introducing Bengali as a compulsory language to be taught in all schools across the state. That was, for the many living in the hills, a slight too many and almost simultaneously one that led to widespread protests, beginning with black flag demonstrations at the Chief Minister’s visit on June 5th, further spiralling into burning of vehicles and stone throwing at the police and para military personnel that have since resulted in the deaths of eight civilians.

A call for a strike, complete shutdown of one and all establishments that include schools and banks, not to mention the hotel and tea industries, in the peak of tourist season and the second flush, has been ongoing since then, today, July 27th being the 43rd day. Almost immediately, the state government in swift measure blocked all internet and cable television services and deployed large flanks of the para military forces in the region.

For those unfamiliar as to why the introduction of a language would spill over into such a prolonged agitation, a little background as to the history of Darjeeling and its role in the state of West Bengal.

Map

West Bengal is the state that lies extreme to the east of the Indian sub-peninsula, the rest of the seven north-eastern states separated by the country of Bangladesh. The only route to and from the north-eastern states is through the town of Siliguri that lies in the foothills of the Darjeeling district.

So what is so important about Darjeeling? The fact that it lies just above what is known as the “Chicken Neck”, a 20km-wide corridor that includes the town of Siliguri and one that connects these seven north-eastern states to the rest of the country.

These seven states as can be seen in the map here share its borders with China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, and almost all these states have had their share of bloodshed, some in the carving of its statehoods and some unfortunately, still.

As far as the history and ethos of Darjeeling itself, its people, language and culture is one that is completely different from that of the rest of the populace that fill the state of West Bengal. In fact, it did not even belong to West Bengal, rather the kingdom of Sikkim, whose ruler, the Chogyal, waged several wars against the Gurkhas of Nepal who had made several attempts to conquer the region from him. A resulting defeat in 1814 led to the eventual signing of the Sugauli Treaty wherein Nepal had to include the territories which the Gurkhas had annexed from the Chogyal to the British East India Company as well.

Later after the independence of India in 1947, Darjeeling was merged with the state of West Bengal. A separate district of Darjeeling was established consisting of the hill towns of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and some parts of the Terai region. Since then and spurred on the by creation of Sikkim as a state in 1975, there has been a rising clamour for a separate identity, an autonomous state and the recognition of Nepali as an official language.

While the latter has been acknowledged, with the Nepali language listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India as an Indian language having an official status in 1961, the demand for a separate state has been an ongoing one.

For the most part, Gurkhas are a soft-spoken lot, warm and generous, exhibiting a fierce loyalty, a trait well served in the various Gurkha regiments across the world. Unfortunately, for the rest of the country, Gurkhas have often been portrayed and widely accepted as, the bungling idiot who slurs the Hindi vocals and more often than not, is deemed fit to be just the local guard at the door, the chowkidar, a depiction that is understandably most resented.

Over the years, as with other territories’ voices for a separate statehood, the protests while ongoing really had no representation and for the state and capital, Delhi, it was generally perceived that the cause as such would die a natural death. That is until 1980.

Subhas Ghising, an ex-soldier and former teacher had been quite vocal in the demand for statehood since the 70s but it was only in 1980 that the GNLF was born and a formal statement for the issuance of a separate statehood, Gorkhaland presented. In the next few years that were to follow, peaking at 1986-87, the party led by him set this quiet town and the surrounding hills on fire, literally.

It was not uncommon in those days to see smoke spiralling in the distance or hear of veiled threats of decapitation should anyone protest. The whole region locked down, across markets, schools and hotels as violent protests began. The governments, both state and central, moved in brutal force to quell this, the worst being July 27, 1986, where 13 protesters who were burning copies of the India-Nepal Friendship Treaty, died in a GNLF rally in Kalimpong when police opened fire.

After many such bloodied encounters and long consultations, both the state and central governments then negotiated on granting a semi-autonomous administrative body to the Darjeeling hill region. In July 1988, the GNLF gave up its demand for a separate state, and by August 1988, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council came into being, with Subhas Ghising as Chairman who by then won the first council elections.

However, the path since then has rocky at best. While the GNLF continued to rule and win over consecutive council elections spanning two decades, progress otherwise in the hills remained at a standstill.

The region still continues to remain the same with no or very little civic development in terms of roads, electric and water supplies, not to mention medical facilities or the provisions for higher education. There were widespread allegations of corruption across the board that the DGHC and its members were too busy lining their pockets from the state funds, with very little actually being used for the betterment of its people.

And although in a stunning coup led by Ghising’s right hand man, Bimal Gurung, the GNLF were soon ousted and a new party in place, the GJM, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, matters and overall development otherwise, remains at status quo. Any voices of dissent or otherwise have been dealt with viciousness as in the cold blooded murder of Madan Tamang on a busy street in 2010, while the primary suspect, Bimal Gurung continues to walk the same streets, a free man.

These recent clashes and the outpouring of people across the nation and even the world has very little to do with the party ideology, although different factions across the board may speak the same language of Gorkhaland. This time the massive support seen online and in street demonstrations are but the singular cry of a people that have had enough.

Enough of the politics of those whom they had seen as a leader, enough of the forced imposition of a language that has never been theirs to begin with and enough of living a life marred with labels, missed opportunities and misplaced priorities.

Along with the rising cry of Ayo Gorkhali, (here come the Gurkhas) is also the term across almost every social media post, that of #NotMyLeader. However, as clichéd as it sounds, unfortunately, out of sight is out of mind. For Darjeeling and its surrounding towns, all tucked away in the hills, the plight of the common man is something that can never be felt in the bustle of its capital city, Kolkata or even among the seats of power in Delhi.

For most Indians, Gurkhas are foreigners, as harsh as it sounds. Like them, and the rest of the North-east population, they do not look anywhere close to the average Indian, far from it; and furthermore, they do not sound, dress, eat or talk the way most Indians do. There could be no further distance, both geographically and otherwise between the them and us.

So while the clamour grows and whilst the hills remain blanketed under troops and the shutdown, someone really does need to step up to the plate. Whether it is the collective band of new and old factions, or the state and central government representatives is irrelevant. If it is indeed the peoples’ best interests that they seek, then gather they must.

Or else climb every mountain would seem an insurmountable task, a line best sung at school plays. No amount of agitation or strikes, while good publicity, would ever bring that about. In the end it would all just amount to a storm in a teacup and going by the days passing by, perhaps not even that after all. Storm yes, tea definitely not…