She is My Sister


I was blessed with a tremendous experience while in Baruipur, West Bengal. In the village schools and the day boarding school, it is not difficult to establish an emotional connection to any number of the children. They are so willing to open their hearts and make room for us and we come with the intent to find room in our hearts for them.

They eagerly anticipate our arrival and as the week goes on, the welcoming committee grows larger and larger. As every day passes, you become less concerned with the shower in a bucket, the ants in your bed or the complete lack of privacy. You wake up looking forward to the next moment with your new found friends.

In my village school, I made a very special connection with a group of girls in their early 20's and 30's. Soma, Bianca, Pimu and Namindar were a bright spot in my day and I couldn't help but smile and feel uplifted each day as I arrived and they greeted me with a beautiful grin.

As my teens ran the education groups, these girls would sit by side and fill my time with questions about life in the United States and attempts to teach me Bengali. By day three it was clear to me, upon departing, my heart would ache the most for these girls. They were now my dear friends.

On several different days, at different times, I would cry when considering the thought of leaving or how I how I could successfully communicate I loved them dearly with such a prominent language barrier. Each time they would see my cry, they would adamantly grab my face, wipe my tears and say, "NO crying. Happy." We would giggle a bit together, but sometimes I would have to excuse myself because I was overwhelmed by my emotions.

Our final day at the village school came and I was not mistaken, departure was extremely difficult. These beautiful women, who had encouraged me to maintain my composure all week broke down and sobbed as they thanked us for making their dreams come true. My heart feels heavy when I think about never hugging them again, but my heart also feel joyful when I think about what my teens taught them and the increased opportunities for success and happiness they have pushed them towards.

That evening a number of the mothers of the village students, women from Nishta and one women in particular whom I loved, Namindar, came to Nishtha to perform a spritual ceremony to thank our group for what they had done for Nishtha as an organization and each of the schools. Namindar lost her composure when she saw me in the audience and walked toward me to give me a hug. I laughed a little as she fell apart and grabbing her face I said, "No Crying. Happy."

When the ceremony was over, Namindar brought Mina, the women who runs Nishta over to introduce me. Namindar and Mina spoke back and forth in Bengali for a time and I was completely in the dark. Mina then looked at me and said, "Namindar has no sisters. She says that she loves you and you are her sister."

Namindar is my sister and I love her too. So, what makes more sense than to travel the world to help make her life a little better?

Sarah