TAMIL NADU, India — Life as Sangeedhas knew it was gone.
Her home was destroyed. Her mother was dead.
Only 8 years old, Sangeedhas was one of thousands of
children left homeless by the catastrophic tsunami that hit southern Asia in
Most of these children were left vulnerable to poverty,
child trafficking, prostitution and hopelessness.
Sangeedhas’ father survived the tsunami, but he sent her
away after he married her mother’s sister.
Her stepmother refused to care for a girl who was not her
natural child — a situation that happens all too often in India to children of
a widowed father.
“When his wife has died and (the widower) remarries, his
previous children are usually discarded,” says Cole Elbridge*, an International
Mission Board (IMB) representative.
The stepmother does this because she “doesn’t want previous
children to have inheritance when it comes time for that and dowries. She wants
it simple for her children.”
Sangeedhas, however, was one of the fortunate ones.
She was taken in by Paramesvaran and Choodamani, a Christian
couple who lost their three children and seven other relatives in the tsunami.
The couple welcomed Sangeedhas and other orphaned children
into their home. They provided for them with the help of Southern Baptist
tsunami relief funds.
Since the tsunami, the couple has provided a loving home for
20 orphaned children — six girls and 14 boys.
Sangeedhas had been raised in a Hindu home.
After she came to live with the couple, she heard about
Jesus Christ for the first time.
“This changed my life,” she says.
“I also want to be a great
blessing to others in the days to come, like my parents are now.
“Jesus told me … ‘Be here. Stay here. I will comfort
Today, all of the children have accepted Jesus Christ as
Before dawn each morning, the children gather for worship to
sing praises to Jesus.
With Bibles sprawled on the floor in front of them, they
listen to the daily message.
On one morning, Sangeedhas’ 14-year-old brother Saravan
leads the service.
He tells his family to never give up praying “big prayers.”
He speaks from experience.
Saravan’s father died when he was 2 years old. Eventually
his mother was unable to care for him.
The boy often cried himself to sleep
after arriving at the couple’s home two years ago.
“Paramesvaran told me I could go to God’s feet and cry,”
Now one of his life goals is to preach the gospel to a lost
world and impact those who haven’t heard about Jesus.
“Jesus is my mother and my father,” Saravan says. “(He) is
everything to me.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hendricks is a writer for the International