Hope at Blue Heaven
— Ronne Rock · Tuesday, August 14, 2018 —
Siba’s family started Blue Heaven Academy decades ago, as a way to honor the Lord for all He had given them. The school is perched on a hill in far northeast India, in the town of Aizawl—a town considered one of the most peaceful places in the country.
For years, the school was renowned for its academic excellence. Parents longed to have their children attend. The classrooms were filled to overflowing. The time came for Siba to take over as director, and she loved to watch the kids enter the gates, dressed in their uniforms and carrying backpacks laden with books.
But a quiet discontent was growing within her. The Godly teaching she had received from her parents to give love to those in need was weighing heavily on her heart.
Siba knew Lucy—the tenacious former nun who had founded a Gan Sabra, a ministry for children infected and affected by HIV. In the peaceful community of Aizawl, the stigma of HIV was a specter that haunted hearts and minds. Siba watched as Lucy’s kids were declared unwelcome, and she knew something had to change.
“I couldn’t stand and do nothing. I saw the way the kids were threatened and bullied. Blue Heaven was thriving then, and I knew I had to take a step. So, I welcomed Lucy and the children of Gan Sabra HIV Home into our school. Then it all began,” she smiles when she remembers. “Wow, did it all begin.”
The story could easily end there, with Siba following her heart and making space for the vulnerable. It would be easily to consider the story one filled with “happily ever after.”
But the welcome Siba offered was considered anything but by the townspeople.
Terrified families pulled their children out of the school. Finances dwindled, and Siba struggled to pay her staff. The academic accolades faded. And yet, Siba was resolute.
She opened up the doors of the school to other children who had been rejected—kids whose parents chipped rocks all day, kids who had never known the beauty of education. “Schools around here have high tuitions, so we have chosen to keep ours low to help daily wages families too,” she shares. “Twenty percent of our students can’t afford to pay any of their fees, and they don’t have uniforms. We do what we can to support them with the donations we receive from Orphan Outreach.”
Siba has become counselor, encourager, pastor, and dreamer. She fights on behalf of every student, offering specialized education methods to help those who struggle to read and write because their families are illiterate. Blue Heaven has become far more than an academy. It is hope.
“We would love to have 150 students. Right now, we have 89—and that includes the 20 here from Gan Sabra. We continue to pray for fear to be washed away, so that our school will grow again. It’s a good school.”
A generous gift from an Orphan Outreach donor recently provided Blue Heaven with computers and some science equipment, and the students were proud to show off what they had been learning. Seven students are now taking computer classes after school to receive an IT certificate. Each brings a few rupees when they can to help pay for the teacher who volunteers his time. “Computers are something most of our students have only seen in pictures,” says Siba. “They feel so proud to be learning!”
When Orphan Outreach staffers from the U.S. came by for a visit, an impromptu dance party created a joyful commotion in the courtyard, as curious bystanders peeked through the gate to watch the students and staff laughing and twirling. Siba took it all in, and then her eyes sparkled as she described her next dream.
“I want to decorate the walls of the classrooms with colors and shapes so that the children will be more excited to sit and learn. There is a partition that is needed in one of our rooms, to help our smaller students to focus, but construction is expensive and so I wait and pray. And there is a room that I know will make a perfect library. We’ll begin with a few books—whatever we can afford. But it will be something the children have never had access to before. It will help our families, and it will bring more families.”
Slowly but surely, attendance is increasing at the school. And while Siba would love to say it’s because of the academics, she knows it’s due to something far more powerful.
Hope is a good teacher at Blue Heaven Academy.
“We’re having a tea party! Come dance with us!”
The girls giggled and posed in their Disney princess dresses as the music started upstairs on the front lawn at Gan Sabra. It was the beginning of a school break, and Lucy and her team decided it was a fitting time for celebrations for her kids. There would be a tea party for the girls, and a football party for the boys.
What was happening on that lawn is the fruit of Siba’s bold welcome at Blue Heaven Academy.
It was filled with girls from the school, dancing and singing and doing their best to keep hula hoops spinning. One of the older girls smiled and winked, then grabbed the hand of one of the Disney princesses and began twirling her. There was no fear.
The hearts of the students are changing, because of Siba. And those hearts are holding out a welcome sign to all of us.
If you’d like to become involved in the work being done at Blue Heaven Academy or at Gan Sabra HIV Home, contact Amy Norton, Director of Programs at anorton[at]orphanoutreach.org" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(7, 72, 92);">firstname.lastname@example.org.