24 Jan A Dream Worth Having

For anyone feeling mired in recent political events, here’s a bit of inspiration I ran across recently.

It’s the story of Anand and Rosie Thandu.

Anand and Rosie were born and raised in India, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. They knew each other as children and were arranged to be married in 2000. Rosie was 18 at the time. Anand was 25. Shortly after they tied the knot, they moved to the USA and settled down in Northern California.

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It was a good life. Anand worked as a software engineer and made good money. Rosie went to school to earn a degree in computer science. In time, they made close friends. They bought a house. They purchased nice furniture; Rosie especially loved her leather couch. By any measure, they were living the American Dream.

Feeling blessed, they decided to give back to their home community in India. They purchased some land and set up a small orphanage that they called Children of Faith. A little money every month supported five orphaned children. Anand’s father and brother ran it.

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But seeds planted have a way of growing and before long C.O.F. had expanded to forty children. That’s when Anand felt called to act. As a strong Christian, he believed God was directing him to move back home and raise these children more directly. Unfortunately, it was not an idea Rosie wanted anything to do with at first.

“I was totally against it,” she told me. “I loved our home. I loved the food in America. All the choices. The precut vegetables. The pancakes. I loved my dishwasher. I loved our friends. I did not want to come back to India at all.”

They prayed about it…Rosie stalled as long as she could, but in the end they made the move and got to work. It wasn’t easy or perfect. Rosie admits to saying “Let’s go back! Let’s go back!” far too many times. But they stayed and they settled and their seeds continued to grow.

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Today they have 120 glorious children, a sprawling compound and plans to build a spectacular new school called Hope Academy. It will be unlike anything in the area, offering a world-class education not just to their kids but to children in the community for generations to come. It’s being championed by a group of American supporters (myself included), and you can learn more about the project here if you’re curious.

I visited the orphanage a few weeks ago, met the kids and shot a video to help with the school fundraising efforts. Here’s what Children of Faith looks like in 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

Mother Teresa once said, “There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.”

While I was with them, I asked Rosie how she feels about the move now, nine years in, and she said, “Looking back on my time in America, that dream seems so small to me now. The food. All the comforts. But being here with these children, loving them like our own kids, this feels like a dream worth having.”

(For the record, Rosie did say this while sitting on her leather couch that she shipped over from America. But then, no one ever said selfless service had to be uncomfortable all the time.)

So what’s your dream worth having? Any passions tapping at your heart these days? Any leaps of faith calling you closer and closer to the edge? At this time in history, with so much fear and need swirling the planet like dark storm clouds…who knows? The right moment for each of us to answer our own call in our own extraordinary way might just be now.

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18 Comments
  • Clifton Shipway
    Posted at 07:23h, 24 January

    Really love this blog post John. It makes me want to go back and spend more time with the guys there! What a positive challenge and encouragement to throw out to the world. Great work!

  • Maureen Foley
    Posted at 09:01h, 24 January

    A wonderful video John. The children all look so happy and that is great to see. Keep up your good work.
    Maureen Foley

  • Natalie Graham
    Posted at 10:32h, 24 January

    I love the window you open up to us via your videos to show us these beautiful kiddos, John! 🙂

    After looking over the website for Hope Academy, I don’t see how they CAN’T be successful in bringing to fruition their vision. They’ve got a very competent team and an exhaustive plan to get to the goal, and beyond. Rose and Anand are awesome and their hard work to advance their vision using all their available knowledge and resources is amazing. It will be heartening to see their progress on their dream for their community and the kids they lift up to their potential along the way.

    Thanks for the smile and joy you brought to me today via your blog, John. 🙂

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 11:48h, 24 January

      Thanks Natalie. They WILL succeed. I believe that. But right now, they’re already succeeding in raising these amazing kids. Really had fun getting to know the whole COF family.

  • Victoria Beck
    Posted at 10:44h, 24 January

    I like this story. It’s a reminder that where some people see hope, others see fear – just as in America or anywhere else. Either is a choice. It is wonderful that Rosie and her husband channeled their faith and convictions in positive ways, I believe they took something else back from America, in addition to that leather couch; the spirit of generous giving, a vision inspired from their Christian faith and the knowledge from their own experience that life could be so much more for those children. And, heaven knows, pancakes are highly overrated. 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

    Victoria

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 11:51h, 24 January

      What about pancakes AND maple syrup? Come on, Victoria. THAT’S a sacrifice.

  • Bev Sakran
    Posted at 14:18h, 24 January

    What a wonderful video, John! You are incredible and such an inspiration to everyone you meet, I’m sure.
    🙂
    Bev Sakran

  • Blanche Bejah
    Posted at 21:37h, 24 January

    Enjoyed reading about Rosie snd Anand..what great people. ….not forgetting Priscilla and Clifton. ..we need more people like them
    And not forgetting people like you John Marshall making all aware of these situations. .Good job John keep on writing and God Bless you

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 22:40h, 24 January

      And people like you Blanche. And Richard. We’re all in this together!

  • Mark Perra
    Posted at 21:56h, 24 January

    What a genuinely uplifting, captivating and inspirational story to tell!

    Now you know why so many people in the US and the UK are inspired to help Anand and Rosie reach their “Dream Worth Having.”

    While so many of us have been so preoccupied for so much of our lives with excelling in some narrow field, with building our résumé and our professional and social reputations, Anand and Rosie took a strongly counter-cultural path. There are even some parallels with Clifton’s story, right?

    Thank you for being so thoughtful as to tell Anand and Rosie’s beautiful story in this most respectful and creative way.

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 22:46h, 24 January

      The more I look, the more I find people all over the world making sacrifices for people and causes they feel passionate about. It’s a growing wave of service that is far more inspirational to me than the size of another billionaires bank account. I am part of that wave. And so are you, Mark. All the best with your Hope Academy vision.

  • Betsy Pearson
    Posted at 22:27h, 24 January

    Thanks, John, for this great video. What a gift to see all of those beautiful children so filled with hope. God bless you for bringing their story to us!
    Betsy Pearson

  • Andy K
    Posted at 04:07h, 25 January

    John,
    Fantastic post and video. When we heard that you and Clifton were going down to Hope Academy, we were delighted. Happy for you guys to get to meet Anand / Rosie and the kids. Happy for Hope Academy that they will get to benefit from Clifton’s experience running a great school and your photo / video / storytelling talents as they continue their fundraising.. We hope EMI can team with you guys on more children’s homes project around India in the years to come.
    _Andy K

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 06:08h, 25 January

      Thanks Andy. Love the design for the new school. It’s going to be a massive asset to the entire community. Keep up the amazing work.

  • Mike Cadge
    Posted at 14:10h, 25 January

    Great video John! Thanks for making it. You did a great job showing what the home is truly like (a big family!).. Will be sharing it with my friends.

  • Wendy Goodman
    Posted at 18:06h, 25 January

    Than you John for sharing this story. People like Anand & Rosie are an inspiration and their story is wonderful. Wendy

  • Ana Katsuya
    Posted at 08:34h, 01 February

    Dear John,
    You are always discovering special places where wonderful, generous people, like Anand and Rosie, do amazing work. Thank you for sharing! This gives us a chance to help too.
    Ana

  • Mathias Katsuya
    Posted at 08:47h, 01 February

    Dear John,
    Thank you for introducing us to the Children of Faith orphanage and the great work that Anand and Rosie are doing. I’ve been reading the GSAM bulletin and I see that the construction of the library is underway. I’m about to send a new shipment of books to them. I also know that you and Clifton bought some new books for the orphanage at the book fair in New Delhi. So I was wondering if the next time I make a collection, we could split the books collected between the GSAM’s library and the Children of Faith orphanage. This would give me a chance to help them too. Would you please let me know if you think this is a good idea?
    I look forward to seeing you in June,
    Mathias Katsuya