Emima is one of the youngest girls in our Rayagada orphanage home. She just turned 6 years old a few weeks ago and she is by far the happiest little girl you will ever meet. However, Emimas first few years in life were far from easy and she is a world different now compared to how she was when we found her.
Emima, known to us as just Emi, lost her father when she was 3 years old. Her father died of Malaria and everything in their life spiraled out of control from that day onwards. Emi’s mother was very young at that time and was completely alone having to fend for herself, Emi and her 5 siblings. Emi’s mother asked everyone in the village for help but no one wanted to have anything to do with them as they were of a lower Caste than them. She would steal vegetables from the local markets in order to feed her children and often got caught and beaten in public in order to be humiliated.
When a local businessman offered to give money to Emi’s mother in exchange for one of her children, Emi’s mother had no choice but to except. She thought she would still be able to see her child but as soon as the money was given to her, she never saw her son again. The businessman paid only rs2000/- ($40) and from that second onwards guilt and depression took over Emi’s mother’s life. She started using her body to make money and with the money she would earn, she no longer cared to feed her children, but instead, she started buying alcohol with it. She would drink and chew tobacco with every single Rupee she would earn and the children’s health was getting worse and worse due to malnourishment.
The same businessman returned a few months after and the same deal was made again, rs2000/- for another brother of Emi. He too was bought and sent off never to be seen again.
A year passed and Emi’s mother fell severely sick with stomach problems and fever. Her remaining 4 children were now not only introduced to alcohol but were regularly chewing tobacco in order to calm their hunger pangs. Emi’s mother died within 2 weeks of falling sick and Emi, her 2 sisters and 2 remaining brothers became orphans…
Emi was now 4 years old, drinking alcohol and chewing tobacco. She was the youngest of her siblings and would often be sent around villages to beg for food and money. The children still lived in the same hut together, the oldest of the 5 being 14 years old was now in charge and not a single person in their village ever helped them.
We found Emi by the roadside when she was begging a local stall keeper to give her tobacco. We took her back to her village, cleaned her up and gave her some food to eat. She ate 2 plates of rice without ever taking her eyes of it. She was so hungry, so malnourished and so lost in her own world.
We came to know about her story through the villagers who told it with so much coldness and ease. It never occurred to them to try to help these children and we did not want to waste another minute of Emi’s life in a place that was so evil. We spoke to the Panchayat (village head) and asked his permission to take Emi and her siblings back to our Rayagada home. He told us that if the children themselves agreed, we could take them but if they didn’t, he would also not allow. Emi was the only one who was willing to come with us. Her two sisters, ages 9 and 11 and two brothers aged 12 and 14 didn’t want anything to do with us as they were now working in little hotels and restaurants around the area. We tried so hard to convince them but nothing worked, we told them that if they ever changed their minds they could come to our home at any time and we would help them. We left with Emi on the back of our motorbike and she never once turned back to see her siblings or say goodbye to any of the villagers.
Emi took at least 6 months to adjust to her new life with us in Rayagada. When she first came to our home she would argue and be aggressive to anyone who tried to show her love. She would steal money from us when we were sleeping and go to the shop to try to buy tobacco. She would refuse to go to school and throw away everything we would give to her.
It took a lot of time, patience and love from every single person in our home to help Emi and we can now thankfully say that she is not only the happiest little girl in our home, but the most caring, loving and giving out of all of our girls.
Now Emi is living the life that she has always deserved thanks to MAP. Not only does MAP support the day to day running of our orphanage home in Rayagada but it supports the private education of all of our younger girls including Emi. Emi and her new little sisters go to the best English speaking school in Rayagada and she has now not only finished her first year with excellent grades, she has learnt to speak a little English and also Hindi! Our home would not be complete without Emi and we are so thankful to MAP for everything they do for EMI and her 49 sisters.