Unconditional Joy

by Lia R., Age 13 , USA

In second grade, my family and I took a trip to India. It was beautiful. The sun constantly shone, there were papaya trees all around us, and we could see little monkeys hopping from rooftop to rooftop. We arrived at a children’s home that had about seventy young girls living there. Most of them came from mothers who were temple prostitutes. This home saved them from having the same fate. I remember being surprised by how different their lives were from ours. They each had only a few pieces of clothing, they walked around barefoot, and they all had head lice. They slept in two rooms, with about thirty-five girls in each room. Even though they didn’t have luxurious lives, they were very welcoming, playful, and joyful.

The young girls happily welcomed us into their lives. They were so excited to see that they had visitors. They wanted to sing with us, play with us, eat with us, and show us all the things that they liked to do. We learned how to make brooms out of palm branches and they showed us how to get a coconut down from a tree, crack it open, and drink the water straight from it. One of the women working at the children’s home gave me a henna tattoo with henna made out of Indian spices and beans. Another lady who worked there made me and my sister Indian dresses. It was really cool being able to spend time with them, because it was really eye-opening. I was able to experience the life that a lot of other people in the world live.

The little Indian girls loved to play games. We played many Indian versions of games that we play here in America, such as down by the banks and ninja. Sometimes, we would walk over to a field and play cricket.

While we were spending all this time with them, I realized that these girls were some of the most joyful people I have ever met. They were constantly smiling and laughing. Whenever I was around them I was filled with joy too. It was so heartbreaking to have to leave them after the two weeks that we were there. I really hope someday I can go to another children’s home and get to spend time with young kids like them again.

Even though the children did not have great clothes or a nice place to live, they were extremely happy with their lives. They did not desire for more than what they could have. They taught me that your joy is not dependent on your circumstances. I am always wanting more clothes and the newest iPhone, but I have come to realize that I do not need those things to be happy. That is not where my contentment should come from. I should just be pleased with what I have and live the life that was given to me. Compared to most people in the world, I am incredibly lucky to have the life that I do, and I should be grateful for that.

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