Friends of Max and MaxIndia’s COL at Navjeevan Society, Mumbai- Reported by Darlene

I awoke on the morning of Sunday, October 18th in Mumbai, India, excited to meet more members of the MaxIndia team, key members of the legendary Friends of Max group, and to see what the day would bring. This year, Max’s Birthday coincided with Diwali, the festival of lights. Friends of Max and MaxIndia had arranged a Diwali celebration at the Navjeevan Society, a home for the children of sex workers from the red light district in Mumbai.

The day started out with breakfast at the home of Pramod George (of Colors of Hope fame), where the team converged. Immediately, I could feel the warmth and affection that FOM and MaxIndia feel for one another. When a contingent from Pune FOM arrived, laughter and good will were already abounding. We set off in a convoy of 5 cars to Navjeevan, 2 hours outside of Mumbai.

We were met by Father Samuel, and were fed a delicious lunch by one of the house parents of Navjeevan. The children of Navjeevan are lovingly cared for and live in houses headed by house parents. It was clear that the children’s needs were well attended to (heart, mind, body and spirit) there. As we headed up to the chapel, where the event would take place, we saw much of the grounds and a stunning view of the mountains.

After Father Samuel gave our group a brief overview of Navjeevan and their work, we set about preparing the program. Gift kit bags were speedily assembled under the direction of Ayeshah, MaxStation extraordinaire. Soon, we were ready to begin and the children streamed in.

They listened with rapt attention and Viji spoke to them about TMF and Max, and the idea of living life to its fullest. (Of course, the majority of the talk was in Hindi, so I hope I got the gist right!) 2 FOM members gave testimonials, and kept the attention of the kids with stories, humor, and heart.

Then came the Colors of Hope art therapy activity. Viji introduced the idea of art as one means of expressing oneself, and expression flowed indeed – the art made by the children expressed, among many things, gratitude, hope, faith, beauty… and the written sentiments that accompanied the art were poetry in so many ways!!

Some highlights were:
– A Michael Jackson dance by one of the older boys
– Seeing (and hearing) the friendly competition between boys and girls (not to mention beautiful voices) in a “sing-off” contest
– Handing out the Colors of Hope books to some of the most talented artists (so hard to choose)
– Seeing the love and affection of MaxIndia/FOM members for each other, and for the children.

The day ended with the cutting of a birthday/Diwali cake by two children whose actual birthday it was, and Diwali fireworks (a bit of a frenzy, but lots of sparkles and cheers!).

We all left with a full heart and an appreciation for the human spirit. Cheers to the MaxIndia team and Friends of Max – I truly felt the spirit of the group, and the meaning of the phrase “Maximize Life” that day. Hats off to you all!!

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