When visiting Chennai last year, I met two families living on the streets. Two young women and husbands in their early twenties with infant children. All pavement dwellers from birth. Their picture represented Birds Nest’s priorities: connection, opportunity and hope.
So, this year I return to find out what 12 months has brought. I show their picture and the word goes out. Within an hour, a message comes and the news is amazing. Sayagamari has been located. She is doing well. Together with her husband and daughter, she has moved from the pavement into a home. A room with a tiny kitchen in a back street of Chennai. She remembers our meeting and would love me to visit. I can’t believe it.
As I arrive, we laugh and throw our arms around one another. She’s so proud. And so is her husband. It might be an empty space but it’s clean and secure, and safe from the weather. Together they’re running a business selling water bottles to tea shops and corner shops, towed around on the back of a hired tricycle. It’s menial work but it’s paying the bills and giving them both respect. Their eyes shine with this new found possibility.
It may only be a first step but for this family, it’s a giant stride. A stride that has taken them off the pavement and into a home. She tells me they have plans to join the Foxglove training and expand their business ideas. Another home is also in her mind. Maybe one with a second room.
She sends her husband out to buy me a juice. The juice is a gift of gratitude and equality I must accept. I offer her a shawl and wrap it around her. It’s a moment we share with words of admiration and thankfulness. And then as I make plans to leave, she holds my hand, looks me in the eye and asks, “Come again. Come next time.” And I promise I will. It’s just the start of the Foxglove journey. And I am not prepared to miss it! ????