Christmastime in India
Madeline Osiwala climbed into a tiny bus packed with 50 orphans and 10 volunteers. They stopped at a market, where they would buy a pair of shoes for each child.
After shopping for shoes, the bus took the group back to the orphanage where more Christmas gifts awaited them. That’s when Osiwala’s joy turned into disbelief. She watched as the children started crying.
“I have a mattress,” one kid said through tears. “I have a pencils and crayons.”
It was a rude awakening for Osiwala.
“The Lord spoke to me in that moment,” she said. “You have to do more, and this is what I’m putting on your life.”
Next June, students Madeline Osiwala and Jesseca Edwards will open an orphanage in India. The home will be constructed through Angel House Orphanages, an organization that has built hundreds of children’s homes across India. Angel House Orphanages is a branch of Missions.me, an organization that hosts missions and outreaches across the globe. It was founded by ORU alum Dominic Russo.
Edwards and Osiwala have raised $22,000 to open the Orphanage. The girls must reach their goal of $37,000 by March 1, 2015. In June, they will travel to India to help open the house.
The money will fund the construction of the orphanage, a water well that will be accessible to the entire village, furnishings, school supplies, clothing and other essentials.
How the dream was born:
In the past, Edwards and Osiwala traveled with Missions to India on different occasions. In India, both girls saw the conditions of the children living in poverty and knew they wanted to do more. Last year, they met during a math class and started talking about their work with Missions.me. They discovered they both wanted to open up an Angel House Orphanage.
“I’ve learned if you don’t ask, you’ll never get anything. I knew that if I waited around and kept praying, I would have doubted myself, and if I told the people around me, they would have doubted me,” Osiwala said. “We’re two broke college girls; no one is expecting us to do this. I even had doubt of my own.”
It has been four years since Osiwala realized she wanted to open up an Angel House Orphanage.
“I knew so strongly in my heart that this was something that I had to do,” Osiwala said. “I don’t know what came over me. But I said, Jesseca, we’re doing this right now. And I signed up. I knew we had to go forward.”
The girls immediately began fundraising and creating awareness.
“I would talk to all my professors, and tell them what I was doing. They were so supportive,” Edwards said. “I told Dr. Vickery. He said, ‘you can come speak at my church if you want to. We’ll take an offering.’”
The response from the ORU community has encouraged both girls to continue.
“I transferred in from a community college in Michigan,” Osiwala said. “I don’t believe they would have pushed me or believed in me, but at ORU, the professors pray for you. They care so much about who you are. They want to teach you how to fulfill your dreams.”
An overflow of donations
“At first we just posted it on Facebook and put a deposit down,” Osiwala said. “Suddenly, all of this money was coming in. It came in very quickly and then all of a sudden, it was kind of a halt. We raised $8,000 to $10,000 in a month or two, just from social media.”
The overflow of donations caught Edwards off guard.
“I didn’t expect such an overwhelming response,” Edwards said. “I didn’t think that much money would come in. But people I’ve only met two or three times started giving $200 or $300.”
Raising such a large chunk of money seemed like an impossible task.
“Here we are, two college kids, trying to raise close to $40,000,” Osiwala said. “Our own doubt has been an obstacle. It gets so discouraging when you try so hard at times, and you don’t see results instantly.”
In the midst of doubt and rejection, the two girls will push on to reach their March deadline.
“You just have to know that the enemy is a liar,” Osiwala said. “You’re always going to have obstacles, doubters, nonbelievers and even haters. People will try to bring you down. My faith isn’t in people, it’s in the Lord.”
Sharing the burden
Osiwala has a passion for helping kids. “Mama Maddie,” as her friends call her, can’t stop thinking about the children in India.
“I definitely feel burdened by the task at hand. It’s not like a bad burden; it’s a God-given burden,” she said. “Every day, I wake up and these little kids are the first thing on my mind—faces that are fending for themselves every day.”
For Edwards, this journey doesn’t feel real. She’s been dreaming of this ever since her first trip to India and can’t believe she’s only months away from reaching her goal.
“I share the burden too. I have a 7 year old brother. I can’t imagine him spending his life growing up in the world, not having anyone give him affection, feed him or even put him in school,” Edwards said. “I think about the children over there, I think of them as little brothers and sisters. I can’t imagine growing up in that situation. I think that every child deserves a good place where they can experience childhood and innocence.”
Edwards looks forward to her reunion with her adopted brothers and sisters. “Mama Maddie” said she will cry during the entire plane ride to India. Until then, they will continue to raise the funds to get there.
“It’s just heavy on me,” Osiwala said. “I know that I have to do more. I’m burdened in the best way possible.”