Guest Blogger: Sumana Setty Reflects on Recent Trip to Orphanages in India

Commit2Change welcomes guest blogger Sumana Setty, C2C co-founder. Here, Sumana shares why her most recent trip to C2C’s partners in India left her with unanswered questions—and greater motivation than ever.

In India this past Christmas, I had the honor of meeting my namesake. I don't have a very common name; most people in India can’t even say it. I was, therefore, drawn to this girl. She is 3, has HIV and lives in an orphanage.

Three years ago when this little girl was born, her parents were either disappointed that she was born a girl, disappointed that she born with HIV, or were so destitute that they chose not to keep her. Whatever their reason, they left Sumana.

Roughly 30 years ago, I was born to parents who felt differently. But I struggle to come to terms with my fate in comparison to Sumana’s. She, like I, was born a baby girl in a country that doesn’t value girls.

Different paths
I can’t say that my parents didn’t feel sadness when the doctor announced I was born a girl, but I can say that they didn’t love me any less than my brother. My parents brought me to America and provided me with every opportunity to succeed.

By chance, Sumana and I connected this past year, as she lives in one of the orphanages that Commit2Change supports. Local authorities had found her on the street, and once a physical showed that she was HIV-positive, she was placed at the orphanage.

I don’t think I will ever be able to describe my experience in meeting Sumana or any of the children at the orphanages. They are beautiful children, who—for reasons I can't understand—were put on a path with so many challenges. They live every day with the memory of their pasts.

Most of the children were abandoned at an age old enough that they have memories of their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters; the memory of believing they were going on an adventure; and the memory of being told, “Stay here for a minute, and I will be right back.”

Life in India
They live in buildings where the infrastructure is on average adequate, where there is a constant lack of resources—from food, to clothes to caretakers—and with other children whose pasts haunt them nightly.

During my visits, I felt like I was in the audience watching a movie. I was able to leave and go home knowing this is a just a moment in time for me.  

What I don’t know is “Why did my life turn out differently?" Sumana became the embodiment of that question. This scares me and resonates with me more than anything else.

Although I can't make sense of this twist of fate, I can turn it into something meaningful. Through Commit2Change, I am able to continue on Sumana’s journey with her. I can help her to go to school and help her understand that she can write her own story now.

Because although Sumana’s parents left her, I know they saw something beautiful in her. I know this because they gave her a name that means “good heart.”


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