Power of teaching empathy

At 8:45 AM on December 17th, 2018, I got a call from an unknown number. It was The HOPE House 11th grader - Deepika, saying "there is a man here ....." she couldn't continue and began to cry. I suspected the worst. I thought someone had abused our girls. Before even I could ask anything, a 10th grader – Aishwarya, took the phone and started narrating what was going on there.

They all arrived at the school at 8:30 AM and noticed a man lying on the road in filthy conditions. He was shivering as it was cold. Along with the help of a passer-by, they carried him to the nearby bus stop where the floor is paved and has a roof on top. Aishwarya gave her sweater to him and Deepika opened her lunch box and gave the food. They were using another passer-by’s phone to call me to ask if there’s anything I can help them with? I rushed to the spot with a bed sheet and a pair of clothes. All the Hope House girls were waiting for me. Tried to talk to the man but he appeared too weak to speak and his voice was feeble and couldn’t verbalize. Before I reached, girls called the emergency medical help number (108) but hearing the narration of a man with a possible mental illness with no


one to care, operator bluntly told the girls that they cannot help and hung up the phone. I called a few people to see how we could help him and found out that there is a brand-new state funded program – mental health rehabilitation program for adults, in our district but no one knew the number. I left the man with the girls and walked up to the nearest police station and asked for their help to locate the number. They were so kind and helped to locate the centre’s psychiatric social worker’s number in minutes. The Social Worker explained the service available and informed that they will come with an ambulance to rescue the individual. I was relieved.


In the meantime, the police officer who helped us to find the number came to check on the man, so I introduced the noble heart of the girls and he was very gracious to appreciate their work. He shook hands with them and I requested if they could take a picture with him and he obliged. Girls and our Railway Children project staff bought a cup of tea for the man and helped him to drink. He was having a hard time even to sit so girls had to hold him to sit up and drink. Then, they all left to school to write their half yearly exam.

We waited there till the rehab team would arrive. It was 12:45 PM. There were five people but none of them are medical professionals but they diagnosed that he is not a mentally ill patient so they cannot help him. I asked them for help to transport him to the near by hospital but their protocol wouldn’t allow. I requested them to call the medical emergency number (108) to take him to the General Hospital which they obliged. At last at 1:30 PM. He was taken to the General Hospital.

Whole of this afternoon, I couldn’t help but ponder over the reasons why a group of teenagers would do what those Hope House girls had done? Why would anyone who has so little would come forward to give away everything to someone in need? It was a busy road and many of their school friends were passing by and I was told that some have even scorned them for doing what they were doing. Adults were peeping and walking away. There were moments that I myself wanted to leave the man and go but thinking about the girls resilience and the desire to help, I felt ashamed to have such thoughts. Girls never gave up on him.

During the last one week, girls had received Christmas gifts. We discussed about the importance of this “Season of Giving” and how they too can be a blessing to those that are more marginalized than themselves. Little did I know then that it would lead to such an impact. They were truly a blessing to that man today. My hats off to our angels. We believe in bending the rules to be right than to follow the book to be righteous.


Girls, the entire Hope House organization salutes you today for what each of you have done. You have sacrificed every bit of what little you had to help that man. You have lived up to the Gospel of Mathew 25: 35 – 40.