31 Oct Alex Sam’s Story – Photographing for Alex and Sunita Sam of Everett Mission in Pakur India
Photographing for Alex and Sunita Sam of Everett Mission in Pakur India – Capturing Grace on a 16 flight, 5 week journey throughout Asia.
Sitting across from Alex Sam in 2015 at CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) it was my job to interview this orphan care leader from India for the World Without Orphans Global Forum in Thailand. With Alex’s quick sense of humor and likable personality it did not take long for us to form a lasting friendship. My respect for the ministry that Alex and his wife Sunita run in Pakur India led to me traveling to India this year, photographing for Everett Mission.
Everett Mission encompasses two schools totaling 211 students and a
transitional home that seeks to reunify children with their families. The lives that are being changed and the stories that are being rewritten through this ministry is nothing short of beautiful.
Looking at the photographs, one would never guess Alex’s story. Alex Sam’s mother died from tuberculosis when he was six months old. Alex’s father dropped him off on the doorsteps of an orphanage that housed over 2000 children when Alex was only 9 months of age. Alex’s father passed away only weeks afterwards.
Alex shares in his autobiography, The Wide Roads of Mumbai, that the absence of love is what most characterized his childhood. Many of the children around him at Emanuel Orphanage were not true orphans, they had parents that still visited them and gave them gifts. The life that Alex witnessed was hard for him to understand. Alex acted out and experienced unreasonable punishment, several times he ran away. Each time he was found and brought back, it made the orphanage seem more like a prison. Eventually Alex escaped at the age of 11 and experienced an even harsher life on his own.
Alex was hit hard by life on the streets of Mumbai, he learned to hit back equally as hard. Like the prodigal son, Alex squandered his ill gotten gains, by the age of 16 Alex became an incarcerated criminal. Just as his life as a child was characterized by a lack of love, it was unconditional love that brought Alex back to a new life.
At the age of 16, Alex was searching for a better way, he attended a slum church where his friend from childhood, Dr M.A.Thomas was speaking. Dr Thomas had been one of the positive influences in Alex’s life from Emanuel Orphanage and had always shown him love.
Upon seeing Alex enter the church where he was speaking, Dr M.A. Thomas stopped mid sentence and called out to a very dirty, nasty and disheveled Alex, “I am so happy to see one of my sons here”. Alex says that the love of Dr Thomas pierced his heart, to be called “his son” in public, and in the bad condition the he was in, was a life changing moment.
Like Jean Valjean in Les Meserable, Alex could not escape the unconditional love shown to him by another, this love ultimately led Alex back to a life of redemption and new found faith in Christ. I highly recommend Alex’s book, The Wide Roads of Mumbai.
It is truly beautiful and inspiring to watch Alex and Sunita use the pain from their past as fuel for helping others. Alex says that he is grateful for the difficult events of his life, “it has given me an ability to relate and help children who are living the life I once lived”.
We all live in a very broken world, we can either let the pain that we experience make us bitter or make us better. I am so grateful that God has allowed Alex and Sunita Sam to choose a path that ministers to all whom they encounter, including me.
I was honored to photograph for Everett Mission, I hope that through these photographs, you feel some of the love that I felt here in Pakur, India.