Young women at Calcutta Blind School learning in Braille (Danielle Valimont)

Born without eyes and a mental disability that left his head misshapen, a little boy named Sifle was instantly thought to be a curse to his family and community. In India, children born with such deformities and diseases rarely stand a chance of living a full and happy life—if they survive at all. Many, such as Sifle, are neglected or abandoned as parents try to escape the embarrassment and financial burden of caring for a child with special needs.

Calcutta Mercy Ministries rescued Sifle from a trash dump, where his family left him alone to die. He was only 6 years old. After his recue, Sifle was taken to the ministry's blind school, where he has since learned to read Braille and walk—even well enough to play cricket with his friends.

As children at the Calcutta Blind School learn what it's like to be self-sufficient, they are given the hope of a future their culture denied them. Families are sometimes restored, too, as the children prove to be not a liability to their society but rather a blessing.

Children at the school are supported medically and educationally. Most importantly, they are given the opportunity to live in a home where they are nurtured and loved. The ministry has also opened a Blind Training School, where students can learn a vocation.

"This has been so successful, as these blind children have been able to return to their villages and start their own businesses," says founder Huldah Buntain.

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