The collective "we" is a word or notion of inclusion. "We" conveys a sense of belonging and community. Sometimes these days I hear people talking about "we" as a way to create a divide between themself and some other. In this way, "we" becomes a way to exclude. It feels sad to hear people use our language to exclude others, to define them as "not we", not belonging, not part of the collective whole.
The children of For One Child of India know what that divide feels like. They understand what it feels like to be excluded, because of poverty, social status, disability. In Tamil Nadu, there are even words that mean "we- including you" and "we- but not you". I was able to study the Tamil language with a tutor some years ago and it was very shocking to learn that there are actually specific words in Tamil for this. Nam means we (including you) and Nangal means we (but not you). It is easy to differentiate there, between inclusion and exclusion. India can be a harsh experience sometimes.
But the FOCI Kids belong. Nam, nangal, we, everyone belongs.
When I see them each January, I remind them that even though they are far away, they belong to an American Sponsor who cares for them very much. I remind them that if they work hard, they will also be included in the opportunities that before only existed for the children of parents with financial resources. They will be included in the chance to have a better future.
And I want you to know that you belong to them too. Many sponsors have sent photographs to their FOCI child and I shared those pictures with the kids a few years ago. The FOCI families kept those photos. They look at your pictures, they try to remember what I have told them about you (all good I promise), they imagine your life in the United States. Your life is just an amazing dream for them, but maybe one day they will be able to live that dream. In this way, For One Child of India has created a place where belonging is the rule, and exclusion is diminished.
look for a minute at the photograph of the galaxy on this blog post. see those stars? can one of them say to another that it should not belong?
We all belong. Like all of the stars in the sky, we belong. Nam. Like the trees in the forest, no tree says to another, "I, but not you". All belong. there is enough for all.
We believe this. We do that.