Latha’s Story: “I needed clothes…”


This week as we journey with those who are unclothed, we invite you to a home in India, where a young girl gets ready for the day...


Your name is Latha and you are 13 years old. Every morning you wake up earlier than the sun, pull your hair back into braids, and make your way outside to boil water for the morning’s breakfast. This used to be your mother’s job, but since she got sick and the pain makes it hard for her to move from bed, it now falls on you. You had to drop out of school to work and help care for your two little brothers. As you stir the steaming pot of porridge, three girls come down the road. They look happy in their school uniforms, smiling and waving to you as they pass. You blush and wave back, but feel very plain in your normal clothes. You look down at your feet and sigh, wishing you could join them at school but you know that’s out of the question. Instead you wake up your brothers, and they groggily accept the food you made for them. After helping to feed your mom in bed, you run outside the house and down the road to the matchstick factory.


The matchstick factory smells of pine and ash and once inside, you’re greeted by other children as they briefly put their heads up to say “Hello” then immediately go back to work for fear of getting in trouble. You find your mat in the corner and lay it out to begin your day’s work of finding faulty matchsticks that are too short, and then sort them into little boxes. You have gotten very good at doing it quite quickly, and even made a game for yourself to challenge how fast you can do it. But after a while, the game gets boring so you let your mind wander as your hands do the work. You wonder what your friends were learning in school today. Maybe math, reading, or science? Your favourite subject was science, because you loved asking questions and discovering how the world worked. You wonder if you’ll ever be able to put on a school uniform again and go to school with the other children your age.


At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:1-6


Jesus lifts up children as the greatest in His kingdom, and reminds us of our responsibility to clothe them with love and support. Let’s see how God transforms Latha and her family’s life through the community’s support.


Finally at the end of your shift, you stretch your hands to the sky and feel your back crack into place. As you walk back home, thinking about what you should cook for dinner, you notice an older woman waiting outside of your house. You’ve never seen this woman before, but as you come closer you see your mum come outside and welcome the woman in. You feel like something big is about to happen.


The woman says she is from World Vision and from a programme that helps children who can’t afford to go to school. She then pulls out several things from her small bag. The first is a pack of pencils, then several notebooks, and finally a brand new school uniform that looks exactly your size! The woman explains that they want to enroll you back in school and are going to pay for your school fees and provide economic assistance to your parents. She asks you how you feel about this, but you don’t know how to express your joy. You want to jump up and down with happiness, but you are also nervous because you haven’t been to school in two years. You worry that maybe you have forgotten everything. Your mum smiles reassuringly and tells you that you can do it. The very next morning, you carefully pull on your new school uniform and make breakfast. When the other girls come walking down the street, you grab your notebooks and pencils and run out to join them.


You learn everything you can, and hungrily eat up every lesson.  You can’t hide your happiness at home whenever you explain interesting things you learned to your brothers and parents. The gift of a uniform and opportunity to learn has completely transformed your life.