Guest / Limited Access /

A new documentary about the plight of orphans in India makes its premiere tomorrow in Santa Ana, CA. Mother India: Life Through the Eyes of the Orphan digs fairly deep in its brief 47 minutes, showing both the harrowing and hopeful sides of a group of 25 homeless children -- a tiny segment of India's 31 million orphans -- who live together as a "family" along a railway in southern India.

We learn some of their horrific stories -- beaten and tortured by parents, abandoned, sold into sex trafficking, and more -- and we see their almost unbearable living conditions -- sleeping on the streets, living among filth and waste, exposed to the elements, mosquitoes, and evil adults. The children try to sustain themselves by "cleaning" the floors of trains that stop at the station, begging for a few rupees, maybe picking up the equivalent of a dollar on a good day.

They cope by "huffing" on a product that's a type of correction fluid and passing around dirty syringes found on the ground, injecting whatever is in them -- the children didn't know -- just to help alleviate the pain -- physical, mental, psychological, spiritual. Several have HIV/AIDS; others carry varying illnesses, malaria likely among them. Several are missing limbs, lost when trying to jump the moving trains. One's heart breaks for them.

Filmmakers David Trotter and Shawn Scheinoha were most interested in earning the children's trust so they could tell an unadulterated story, strictly from the orphans' point of view, and they mostly succeed. It doesn't feel sensationalistic, voyeuristic, or manipulative. They're just filming things as they really are.

Astonishingly, some of these kids still hold out hope for a better future, part of that a result of their optimistic leader, a 20-something guy missing a leg who has decided to take the other kids under his wing and protect them as best as he can. But he's homeless and jobless too, so there's only so much he can do.

A brighter ray of hope comes through late in the story, giving some of the kids an opportunity for a fresh start. Will they take it? We won't spoil the ending.

The film is narrated by Christian musician Rebecca St. James and features music from Switchfoot's Jon Foreman, Sean Watkins, and others.

Mother India is available on DVD, and organizers are also arranging community screenings.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueAjith Fernando: How Church Leaders Can Serve God's Family Without Neglecting Their Own
Subscriber Access Only Ajith Fernando: How Church Leaders Can Serve God's Family Without Neglecting Their Own
'It's a huge balancing act, and I don't think anyone in the world is perfectly balanced!'
Recommended
'Machine Gun Preacher' Under Heavy Fire
Sam Childers, subject of a new movie, is accused of neglecting children at his orphanage in South Sudan.
TrendingMy Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
My Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
A four-hour visit to the massive replica of Noah's boat left me with a flood of questions.
Editor's PickJerry B. Jenkins: The Tim LaHaye I Knew
Jerry B. Jenkins: The Tim LaHaye I Knew
I saw the softer side of a man famous for strong opinions.
View this article in Reader Mode
Christianity Today
Orphans' Plight