Peeking her still-sleepy head outside her warm blanket, young Shreeja opened one eye, then the other. No one else in the cozy shelter bedroom was awake yet. She was the first one up. There was a chill in the air. After all, it was December. The coldest month of the year in India, a nation that, although tropical most of the time, dips into the 40s and 50s in the depths of the winter months, making crawling out of a toasty bed an extra chore.

Today was a special day, though, one certainly worth getting out of bed for. It was Christmas Day! A new day of celebration for Shreeja. She had never observed this holiday before. Her life in the village before coming to the shelter had been one of hardship. There were no extras. There were few days of happiness. There were only days of tragedy and sadness. More tears than joy. But today? Today would be different. Today there would be a new kind of gladness that she had been anticipating all month. She was ready to be happy. There was a day she thought she never would be happy again.

After her mother and father died suddenly and tragically during the COVID pandemic, Shreeja wasn’t sure she could go on with life. After all, she was only nine years old. She needed her mama and daddy. They were her whole life. Despite their abject poverty, they loved her and provided for her with whatever they had. When their lives were ripped away by that relentless virus, sure, she felt hopeless. But worse? She was frightened. Who would take care of her? Who would put her to bed? Who would wrap their loving arms around her when the bad dreams plagued her in the night?

One day, though, some very nice ladies showed up at the neighbor’s home at which she had been staying since her parents’ death. They said they had a place for Shreeja. They had come to care for her. They had come to give her hope and schooling and a place to call her own. Something Shreeja never thought possible was actually happening. Once again she would be safe and sound. She was being rescued.

Today, Shreeja lives in the DFN shelter home with other girls just like her. Some of them have mothers; others don’t. But what they all have in common is a shared hope for a better future, a better future that includes enough food to eat, a school that teaches them whatever they want to learn, a warm bed to sleep in at night, and dependable adults who are a compassionate and consistent presence for good.

When Shreeja got out of her bed on her very first Christmas morning, the anticipation she felt was almost overwhelming. The day would be filled with songs and special food. She would get to wear a special, brand new dress with beautiful pink flowers on it. They would attend a Christmas Day service where everyone would eat delicious Christmas cake and receive a Christmas gift. Her first-ever Christmas gift! The best gift of all, though, was being together with her new family in the shelter, knowing that they all had a home that could never be taken away from them.

It will indeed be a Merry Christmas for Shreeja and for all the boys and girls who have been rescued and reclaimed for good this year because of generous people just like you. Providing food, clothing, shelter and education to young ones all across India gives each and every precious child gifts that they need so desperately and hope that will remain in their hearts forever.

Our prayer this Christmas? That every child across the vast country of India has exactly what they need for Christmas and for the year to come. May their hearts be light with laughter and filled with love. May they know the deep and abiding love of God every moment of the rest of their lives. Amen.

To learn more about how you rescue an orphan in India this Christmas, Click here the button below!