“The loneliness of my house would’ve eaten me alive if I hadn’t found Kiran,” says Maya. As a child, Maya enjoyed playing in the homes of her already married older siblings. She never felt anxious about her own future, even as she reached marriageable age. Maya’s mother fell ill and Maya became her primary care-giver, living downstairs in her brother’s house. Maya’s mother despaired, knowing she was going to die before she could secure her daughter’s future. She begged her son’s wife to take care of Maya and find her a good husband.
Once Maya’s mother died, however, Maya was lost in the shuffle as her married siblings moved on and raised their own children. Living below her brother, Maya was happy to be part of his family. Her brother’s wife was happy to have the extra help with housework and children. Maya enjoyed her role as aunt – the kids would all sleep in her house most nights! As the children started getting older, however, tension grew with her sister-in-law. Now that she didn’t need help in her own house, she began saying that Maya should marry and move out. Then Maya discovered that she had breast cancer. Even after all the years she’d spent caring for their children, her brothers deserted her. They forbid their children from going near her – worried that they would “catch” cancer by associating with her.
Maya cycled from hospital to hospital alone. Even when she went for surgery, no one from her family accompanied her. Her sister-in- law, frustrated at the expense of Maya’s illness, told her, “You’re a worthless extra,” and Maya found it hard not to believe her. On a hospital visit, Maya met a woman associated with Kiran. A few days later, the woman came to visit Maya’s house and saw how alone she was. She also realized that Maya had become depressed and couldn’t think clearly enough to care for herself and deal with the effects of radiation. The woman visited regularly, helping Maya improve her health. She taught Maya how to deal with her illness and treatment. Eventually, Maya joined Kiran as a seamstress and found there the support she’d wished for from her own family. “Kiran is our home. These people understand us,” she says. Maya has also learned about Jesus from the staff at Kiran. “I had never thought about following Jesus,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about him. So I don’t know why he called me, but he did.”