Resilient Grandmother Shows Her Grandson What Courage Looks Like

By Judith N., Child Champion, India   |  Photos courtesy of Hope Center

Child Champions in India instill hope in a grandmother who is tasked with raising her grandson after tragedy strikes.

Mrs. Dibya, Darpan’s grandmother, stepped in to take care of him after his father (her son) was killed.

Born an only child in a very poor family, Darpan* lives on the outskirts of a sprawling city in eastern India.

As a child, he lived with his parents and grandmother, Mrs. Dibya,* in a community where most of their neighbors, like them, work as day laborers or housemaids.

The homes are packed closely together, and many people lack basic necessities like adequate shelter, electricity, water, and sanitation.

Mrs. Dibya’s husband, Darpan’s grandfather, had abandoned the family long before Darpan was born.

Darpan’s father worked temporary jobs as a house painter while his mother was a homemaker. And Mrs. Dibya worked as a maid to help support the family.

Darpan learned about loss at a young age. When he was only 2 years old his parents’ marriage fell apart and his mother left.

But Darpan also learned about courage and love from his grandmother. She tried her best to support Darpan in every possible way, as his father was occupied with work most of the time.

Mrs. Dibya works in a household near the local Hope Center, and this is how she came to know that the center provides educational support to underprivileged children.

With the challenges she was facing, she wisely sought out any resources available to support her broken family. Mrs. Dibya got in touch with the Hope Center Director and enrolled her grandson in the program.

Acquainted With Grief

In April 2021, the family entered another season of grief and disbelief when they found out that Darpan’s father, Mrs. Dibya’s son, had been murdered.

“I was shocked when I learned of my son’s death,” Mrs. Dibya says. “I lost a piece of my heart. I was wondering how I would raise my grandson as I’m growing older, too.”

Darpan writes a letter while his grandmother looks on.

Adding to their trouble, the police often visited her home in the course of their investigation after her son’s death. The people in the neighborhood talked behind their backs, spreading gossip and making it difficult for Mrs. Dibya to cope.

“The shock and grief of losing the family members one after the other was something I couldn’t have prepared for,” she says. “At the age of 53, I feel completely alone as my family is being undone one after the other.”

For a while, it seemed that there was no respite at all.

Despite the challenges, Mrs. Dibya ensured that these adversities did not prevent her grandson, Darpan, from attending school and classes at the Hope Center regularly.

Finding Strength Through Community

In times of crisis, the support of friends and community can be indispensable. It’s reassuring to know that there are those who care and are willing to offer a helping hand, providing much-needed emotional support during seasons of heartbreak.

Darpan’s Child Champion, Ms. Monissha,* was one such pillar of strength for Mrs. Dibya and Darpan.

She shared with them a story from the scriptures about “The Widow at Zarephath.” The prophet Elijah is commanded by God to go to Zarephath. In the story, Elijah first sees the widow as she is gathering sticks outside the town gate so she can make a last supper for herself and her son, as they would soon be out of food. When Elijah asks her for something to eat, the destitute widow invites him to her home where she uses her last bit of flour and oil to bake for him. The prophet then blesses the woman and her child and assures them that their supplies of flour and oil will never be diminished.

Ms. Monissha used the story of Elijah and the widow to reassure Darpan and his grandmother that God wants us to practice faith over fear.

Facing Adversity With Faith

During those traumatic days, Darpan became withdrawn and often kept away from the other children.

Child Champion Ms. Monissha constantly offers encouragement to Darpan.

But Ms. Monissha, stood by him and his grandmother and encouraged them both not to lose hope. Other Child Champions also came forward and offered much-needed support to ensure that Darpan did not feel lost or abandoned.

Amid the hardships, Mrs. Dibya sought support from the owner of one of the households where she works as a maid. Her employer assured her of her job stability and a fair wage, giving her a sense of security.

She also gained courage by reminding herself of a great truth.

“I love my grandchild just as much as I loved my son. The only difference is my son lives in heaven and I am the only one left to look after my grandson. To take care of him is my responsibility.”

Mrs. Dibya’s tenacious love for her grandson, along with her employer’s support, served as a crucial lifeline that provided her and her Darpan with a chance to overcome the adversity they faced.

While it may not have completely erased the challenges of poverty and abandonment, it significantly improved their quality of life, provided hope, and empowered them to work toward a brighter future.

Constant support from Child Champions at the Hope Center also helped. In fact, the Hope Center Director points to Mrs. Dibya as an example of how to triumph in adversity.

“The Child Champions help the other children and guardians understand from Darpan’s example,” he says. “How despite so many difficulties, his grandmother did not give up and gave him such a good upbringing.”

No Stranger to Sorrow

Mrs. Dibya has been persevering through hardship most of her life.

When her husband abandoned the family years earlier, she had also had to deal with the loss of his income, making it difficult to provide for basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing for herself and her family.

Darpan says his grandmother is “an angel for me.”

She not only had to take care of herself but also her son and grandson, an added responsibility.

Dealing with abandonment and desertion undoubtedly put a significant emotional and psychological burden on Mrs. Dibya as well, with feelings of loneliness, betrayal, and abandonment taking a toll on her mental health.

To make matters worse, she faced a lack of support from extended family and the community, leading to further isolation. It was hard enough trying to provide for her grandson’s education.

After her son’s murder, the social discrimination and stigma that she faced made it even more challenging to rebuild their lives.

The Power of Perseverance — From Grief to Hope

Mrs. Dibya struggled at first.

But later she confronted and navigated these immense challenges, undergoing transformative experiences that profoundly impacted her life.

Facing and overcoming these hardships made her stronger and significantly enhanced her resilience — the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges.

But it never hardened her heart.

Having experienced some of the darkest periods in her life, she feels she is more empathetic toward others who are struggling, gaining a deeper understanding of their pain and tribulations.

A Legacy of Courage

Darpan is now in grade 7 (high school in India) and regularly attends the classes at his Hope Center.

Reflecting on his grandmother he says with pride, “She has a very caring nature and has the ability to make everything better. My grandmother is an angel for me.

“She protects me. My grandmother is very brave, and I am very proud of her. She has faced every difficulty and survived.”

Mrs. Dibya is grateful to her grandson’s Child Champions and his sponsor for encouraging Darpan to study well and grow into a responsible young man. In turn, his Child Champion, Ms. Monissha, recognizes Mrs. Dibya’s strength.

“Other children in the Hope Center feel that their grandmother loves them very much, but they are not as courageous as her.”

Mrs. Dibya aspires for her grandson to become a successful doctor someday and to be able to minister to his community — especially the neediest among them.

The series of losses and grief in their lives could have made anyone bitter and resentful, even angry. But Mrs. Dibya has grown even more resilient in her approach to life.

With the help of the Child Champions at the Hope Center, she instills hope in Darpan and has the courage to dream of a better tomorrow for him.

*Names changed for family privacy.

You can let courageous grandparents like Mrs. Dibya know they are not alone when you sponsor a child today.  

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