Sheemara – an odyssey of love in a foreign land

boy with down syndrome

Sometimes in life, we are lucky enough to take chances that will change us forever. With these we meet people, we know places, we find love, we grow.

But there’s always that one experience which is greater than anything else.

When Bhumika decided to volunteer in Sri Lanka, she was hoping for a beautiful journey, but she never expected to find the purest kind of love. The type of love you take for your entire life.

This is her story.

volunteer holding a girl with down syndrome

“Before going for exchange there was one thing I was sure of: I wanted to work specifically for people with Down Syndrome.

I aspire to become a business-woman and I have a business plan named “Saransh”, which aims at giving training and employment to differently abled people. I wanted to learn how to teach and empower them and what are the various fields to create employment for them.

The inspiration of the idea comes from my younger brother, Saransh, who also has  Down Syndrome. I want to work for him and for people like him, for their equality and basic rights in the society.

That’s why I decided to volunteer for them.  

And what could have been a better option than AIESEC? So when I found this amazing project in Sri Lanka, I had no doubt: that was it. I took the leap, packed my bags and left for my big adventure.

There I worked in Diri Daru Piyasa, a school for kids with Down Syndrome and Autism. There I was working directly with the first group.

young women playing with girl with down syndrome

Once in a lifetime, we always come across someone who impacts us, who changes our life. For me, it was this beautiful girl, Sheemara.                             

She was the one who impacted me the most during the exchange. She influenced my entire thought process about life and I fell in love with her, I love her so much that I wanted to bring her back to India with me.

If you don’t know yet, people with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome and this genetic condition slows down a person’s mental and physical growth. We never understood everything that the kids wanted to say, because of the language difference. So we developed ways of communicating with each other, as love has no language and it can simply be felt. 

Sheemara was that one girl who used to place her palm on my forehead and used to say, “baa”. I don’t know what “baa” means, but it was for sure her way of showing acceptance and love.

I still remember the way she used to giggle while repeating that gesture.

girl placing her hand in woman's head

She was a little aggressive and had mood swings, but I think that when you love somebody it doesn’t matter. I just learned to love her even then and to have a lot of patience. I learned that there are ways in which we can teach them, that there is so much more to life than the daily hustle we are so engrossed in.

Trust me, when the time came for me to return, I held her and cried. I wasn’t sure if she’d miss me. I wasn’t sure if she’d understand that I was going back to India and I also wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing if she didn’t understand. But somewhere in my heart, I wanted her to miss me, as I’d miss her.

And she did.

One day she woke up from siesta and said “Bhumi” many times. My friend says maybe she dreamt about me. I visit her in my dreams too.  That day we saw each other over a video call, whenever we do that, it just makes my day.

I think it’s magical how much love we have in our hearts which we can be spread. We can go to foreign lands and find love, then we live with a craving and some hope in our hearts to meet again.

I’ll go back there again someday, she’ll be a grown up till then. I’ll buy her a computer because I want her to learn and educate herself as much as she can and I want her to play and enjoy life. I want that little girl to receive all the love in the world. 

You can make someone’s life beautiful. Just go out and find out how much happiness you can bring into the world.” 

And you, have you ever find such kind of love?

Did someone leave a mark for life? Share your story in the comments!

If you also wish to volunteer like Bhumika, access and find your opportunity!

And if you like this post you may also like: “The Magic in India’s Teardrop”.

Written by

Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.

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