Lets talk about the word we aren’t suppose to say in schools ” BULLYING”. I am not just a photographer but, also a mother of three boys. The word comes up. Mom this boy is bullying me at school. The schools take this word very serious but, that is not the case everywhere in the world. Hema below lost her right arm because of bullying.
My friends and I have chatted about bullying. I have heard stories about that mean child in class. However, Hema’s story takes the cake. I want you to hear it. I want you to share it. I want you to help her and her family. Why? Because you can. Because I never want this to happen to anyone else again.
Like I said, I have three sons ages 8, 5 and 1. When I try to read something ,someone is always pulling me or asking me to get them something. I put down my phone or my Ipad and don’t come back to the article. Come back and read this. Come back and share this. Tell someone this story and help Hema.
Every month we donate a free photo session. I like to think we have a gift we can give to others for free to make them happy. This month we photographed Hema. She is 15 years old and from India. She has the worst case of bullying I have ever personally seen.
As I sit here with tears running down my face ,I am going to share her story with you.
This photo is of Hema shortly after her accident. .
My good friend Patricia and her husband met Hema several days after her accident, which occurred on March 10, 2010. Hema’s family resides in a small rural village hours from the city. Her mother is a day laborer, traveling far for any kind of work, usually in the fields, picking peanuts.
At ten years of age, Hema was playing outside. We were told that a group of boys bullied her into picking up a metal stick and touching some downed wires. They may not have known the wires were live, but they bullied Hema into touching them anyhow. The 220v-400v shock ran from her hand through her body, severely burning her right arm as well as her feet, where it exited her body. Her heart and breathing stopped. A total miracle – an unlikely passerby heard the kids screams and he prayed to revive her.
He did! Her heartbeat and breath returned. They carried her on a bicycle several kilometers to the bus. Then a 4 hour bus trip to the nearest hospital that can treat burns, in the city in South India. In rural India there are not local hospitals and ambulances that can come and rush you to the hospital, also, there is no 911 service like we have here in the states.
Due to the horrific nature of her burns, Hema’s arm had to be amputated below the elbow. Patricia was at the hospital visiting another patient. She couldn’t help noticing Hema’s face glowed with hope in the midst of that dark tragedy, and the dire conditions of the her homeland.
The outlook for a girl in Hema’s circumstances is usually pretty bleak. Her education had already not been a priority. In her village, she would likely have been married off before 17, but marriage seemed impossible to her family now, with the loss of an arm, and the right one at that. The left hand is considered ‘unclean’ in her village culture. Hema now has to use a scarf to cover her “imperfection” because in her culture it is considered forbidden to show your handicaps such as an amputation. How would you, the ones reading this, that at the age of 10, that essentially everything in your life has changed because you now have to carry this burden with you everywhere you go??
She would not be attending school or likely going out of her little house much again. She would be looked down upon as one of the beggars are who are mutilated intentionally.
Patricia and her husband asked if they could help. Then, Touching India, a US nonprofit, http://www.touchingindia.org/ has cared for Hema and placed her in excellent schools. Provision was made for helping adjust physically and emotionally. Staff and the students are very supportive of Hema in every way. Hema began to thrive and blossom. Quickly she became able to draw, and to write in Hindi, Telugu, and English with her left hand.
It was so astounding to see. The first girl ever educated in her family, she is now the top student in the equivalent of “AP” courses in the US and college bound, fluent in English and happy!! She has such a tender heart as well. She has forgiven the boys completely and only speaks of the Love of God for her and them. She has maturity and sensitivity to others that is outstanding. She is truly a leader.
When I got the chance to photograph her she was all smiles. To see a little girl so badly hurt, and bullied but, still so happy and thriving was an amazing experience. When I spoke with her about the boys who bullied her, she told me they still live in her village. They didn’t get into any trouble and there was no punishment for the boys that did this to Hema. We talked about many things, she asked about my son, she asked if she could pray for me right there in the park.They are excited to see the plans that lay ahead for her, and how she may be used to lead others in her nation. Patricia and her husband believe children’s lives can be changed from utter despair to flying high – it just takes stopping for the one in front of you. They are so happy they got to stop for Hema.
Tax-deductible gifts marked “Hema” will go the following needs for Hema” –An electronic prosthesis. She is obtaining a body powered prosthetic to try from Shriners Hospital in Springfield Mass. There is however, some concerns if the tape that holds the cable to her back will stand up in the heat and humidity of India.
They hope to return to the US with her for a better electronic one when this becomes available–Because of the prosthesis she will be living in an apartment, not at the school. You can help furnish her room, provide a laptop or other aid for her by just donating a few dollars to her GoFundMe –They hope to enter her in an exchange program here in the U.S. and are looking for sponsors and a host in the state of Florida.