"When I was in the hospital Nancy stayed with me for 3 days and slept on the floor next to my bed. My own mother never did that." "Whenever I do something wrong Jagan talks to me patiently and explains how I could it differently next time." "Nancy encourages my artistic talent and buys me colored pencils and looks at my drawings." "Jagan's smile and laugh always makes me feel better."
These were some of the comments that Sakya Hostels students made about Nancy and Jagan, who head the community of 36 students plus a small staff. They were part of the original team who created this hostel in 2005 for some of the poorest Dalit children in the coastal areas of Chennai devastated by the tsunami. Since then, one by one, the rest of the original team has left Sakya to pursue their studies, find a job or start a family. But Nancy and Jagan have been a steady presence, working around the clock at the hostels for 8 years, taking only one week off when they got married in 2011. On our last day together in our recent visit I asked the children to rejoice in them. It was wonderful to be in the presence of so much love and appreciation. When the kids had finished speaking, Jagan told the students that when guests come to Sakya Hostels they are interested in the kids, but they are not interested in them. This was the first time in 8 years that anyone had celebrated THEM! They were very moved by the rejoicing and said that this encouragement gave them confidence to continue their work.
I would like to rejoice in them too. They are such dedicated, resourceful, loving people, doing difficult work with very limited resources. I feel lucky to have known them for the past 4 years and to be collaborating together in South India. Their kindness and commitment motivates me. When I first met Jagan I asked him, "What do you enjoy about this project?" He replied, "This is not a project. It is our dream world. We want to provide the home for these children that we never had." They have certainly done that.
Thank you Jagan and Nancy!!
Jai Bhim. Dayamudra