After losing her daughter, how helping thousands with leprosy in India led this mother to healing


In this week's episode of  This Is is the Gospel, Becky endures soul-rending pain after losing her oldest daughter, Amber, to suicide. But while going through Amber's belongings, Becky discovers her daughter had secretly been donating to an orphanage in India. Intrigued, Becky eventually makes her way to the orphanage where she begins her work helping those with a crippling disease she thought had been eradicated long ago.

An adapted excerpt from the story is below.Listen to the full episode here or read the full transcript here

My oldest daughter, Amber, was severely bipolar. Amber struggled [with being] in and out of mental institutions when she got into high school and for the next seven years [as she tried] to find healing. She eventually gave up and took her own life. I was devastated. The loss of a child is always soul-rending, but the loss of a child through suicide is absolutely crushing. 

She was in college at the time that she died, and when we went through her things we found that she had been sending part of the money we gave her for college every month to support an orphan in India. I was really surprised to find this out because typically college students are really struggling to make ends meet. But I think maybe because she suffered so much she just had a tender spot for the underdog. I think it lifted her and it kind of helped keep her going. 

So we decided that at her funeral, instead of having people send flowers, we just asked them to send donations to this little orphanage. People were so generous and . . . the orphanage asked me to be on the board of directors. I thought, "Okay, if I'm going to be on this board, maybe I better go to India and see what it is I'm doing."

But there was more to it than that. I was struggling to find healing for this gaping wound that seemed to have hit my own soul. I was really hoping that when I got to this orphanage and saw what Amber was so involved in, that it would bring some closure for me. 

When I got to India, the children in the orphanage were darling. [There were] 54 of them and this was back in 2000. As we would go from our hotel to the orphanage and then at night back again . . . every time our car stopped at a stoplight, these beggars would just engulf us, pounding on the windows. And these were not normal beggars. Their faces were sunken, some of them, their eyes were gone. They had pus dripping down their arms and rotting hands and feet. I just had never seen anything like it. They're suffering to me just seemed almost palpable. . . . 

I was with three other women, and so we would just start talking to each other whenever the car started slowing down at a stoplight because we didn't want to look at them. We didn't know what we could do for them. I said to our driver, "Who are these people?" And he said, "Oh, those are the lepers." I said, "What are you talking about? There's no leprosy in the world today." He goes, "Yeah, we have millions in India."

And I thought, "Seriously? Millions of people live this way? Why doesn't somebody do something?" At night when I was trying to sleep, I would just keep thinking about these people. I just thought, "This problem is huge. What can I do? I mean, who am I? I'm a homemaker. I mean, I'm not anyone that could do anything." But I kept thinking, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" And then finally I thought, "Well, duh, you're somebody, do something."

For the rest of Becky's story, listen to the full episode here or read the full transcript here.

Photo courtesy of Becky
Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content