George Graham

Lighting a Candle



Stunned and dispirited by events in America, the country I have chosen for the rest of my days, I could hardly muster the emotional strength to write a blog today. And then I read two items in my mailbox that put events in perspective, awakening me to the fact that I am, after all, a lucky dog.

It’s a harsh world out there.

But hope persists, and in a world of pain, Good Samaritans labor tirelessly to provide what relief they can.

That’s what I got from two items in this morning’s Yahoo mail. One was an email from a friend, Margaret, in Orlando about the rescue of a slave girl in Nepal. The other was a comment (on a blog I wrote some time ago) reminding me of the work being done to alleviate the misery of Haitian orphans.

I couldn’t find Nepal on a map. I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of China or India. But I lived in Haiti, and I saw the wretched conditions in which so many Haitian children live. Images of those tiny emaciated bodies still haunt me.

So I confess without shame that the comment from out of the blue this morning made my eyelids smart. Not only from sympathy but also from a tinge of guilt.

Here is the comment:

That is what “Sustainable Orphanages for Haitian Young people” is. It is everyone, despite where we live, working together to produce a much better globe and a better life for kids who will take our motivation and make something out of it.

I know that some of those Haitian “orphanages” have turned out to be scams, in which horribly abused children are used as props by evil people to wring money from foreigners.

But I also witnessed good people making an effort to minister to those Haitian orphans – and to the myriad sick children and adults in Haiti. And I wish I had done more in my life to help others. I have my excuses, of course. But still… You know what I mean.

Margaret’s email told the story of Suma (photo above), who was rescued from slavery and is receiving the empowering gift of an education.

Nepal is so very far away, and we never hear or read about the wretched conditions there. But, according to the story accompanying Margaret’s email:

Millions of people around the world have watched the film “Girl Rising” — which features a segment about Suma, a courageous girl that Nepal Youth Foundation rescued from Kamlari child slavery and is currently supporting in vocational school.

When Suma was only nine years old, extreme poverty forced her family to “sell” her labor to their landlord as part of a sharecropping arrangement. For years, Suma slept in a goat shed and ate scraps from her master’s plate, spending long days and nights doing housework and chores.

In 2007, after six years of servitude, Suma was rescued by Sita Tharu, an NYF staff member. Since then, NYF has provided Suma with a variety of services to help her build a new life. She attended school and is now enrolled in a Medical Assistant training course as part of NYF’s Vocational Education and Career Counseling Program.

Perhaps the film will open the eyes of the world and bring more help for the enslaved children of Nepal.

It’s an encouraging story, the kind that renews our faith in human nature. Yes, we live in a world of bad people, but there are good people, too. And they’re out there, working to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

I regret not being one of them. And you know I will probably just continue to sit here and curse the darkness.

Click for more on the Haitian “orphanages” scam.

Click for more on Haitian orphanages.

Click for more on Suma.

Click for more on “Girl Rising.”

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for