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My name is Geetha. I come from a very, very poor family and as if that were not bad enough my father was an alcoholic! My father would come home drunk and beat my mother. Although my mother was very loving and caring I never experienced my father's love.

My mind was full of hatred for my father - a father who did not care about his children. I would always be so very hurt with the thought that when all other fathers were looking after their children my father would be spending all his time and money drinking.

In school we got free kanji (rice gruel) for poor children and even though I was perpetually hungry I would take some of it home for my mother. My stomach was never full of food! I was deathly pale, sickly and extremely anemic.

When I was in Grade 10 I got some old books from one of our relatives. My father agreed to give Rs.50 for them, but, as usual, he had "drunk" the money away. Four months later she came and took back all the books. Now it was too late to get books from anywhere else. Some of my friends gave me some old books and I somehow managed to pass the public examination.

I wanted to continue my studies but my father was totally against the idea. Being a girl child he did not think it necessary to sink in money on my education. It was then that I approached AAII for help. I met Dr. Joseph Varghese and Elizabeth Verssen and they agreed to take me in as a resident sponsored child. At that time my father was mentally unstable and wanted to kill my mother and we took him to the hospital. I was very worried about leaving my mother, but I knew that if I lost this chance I might never get another opportunity so I just prayed that God would protect my mother.

I will never forget the day I met Joseph and Elizabeth. They welcomed me warmly and asked me whether I had enough clothes. I was surprised to hear that because my father had never thought about my clothing. I just wanted to cry because I had only one skirt and one blouse and just one pair of underclothes Elizabeth took me to the best shop in Trivandrum to buy clothes.  >>


I had never been to a shop to buy clothes! She asked me to pick out the clothes that I needed but I was clueless! That night she took me to a hotel to eat. I was so overwhelmed because I had never eaten out before!

From that day till today AAII has been with me every step of the way. I was determined not to let this opportunity go waste and worked very hard. Today I am so proud that I have a Masters degree under my belt! I too wanted to reach out to the disadvantaged and am committed to making this world a better place. Towards this end I am now working with AAII. I am so very happy and content with life. I have a wonderful, caring husband and two adorable children.

If you see me today you would never think that this is the girl that is writing this testimony! Without a doubt, AAII was instrumental in literally saving my life!!


HEERA'S STORY - My changed life    

Like a ray of hope, I was offered a job by AAII in Trivandrum. After a few months, was sent to Madras for 3 major surgeries - they were crucial to help increase my breathing capacity.

I am Heera. AAII has made me what I am today. I contracted polio when I was one and a half years old. It badly affected my legs and chest. After finishing my studies in a special school, I was left at home lonely and ignored - a plight common to disabled children - especially those from extremely poor families, like mine. I was very depressed for a year. Then AAII entered my life in 1992, it transformed me.

I had a lung operation, spinal cord correction and an operation on my head related to the spine. It was a horribly painful and unforgettable time.

AAII was with me every step of the way. They provided me with calipers and a tight fitting jacket to strengthen and straighten my back and legs. Then they designed a special wheelchair and a walker for me. I was told I would not be able to walk for a year - but I did in 4 months! I was also sponsored to do a Computer Diploma course in Chennai (Madras). Now I own and drive a 4-wheel scooter and am working for the Indian Navy as a telephone operator!



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