Editor’s note: Linsey Payson, 18, a senior at Scarborough High School, has been in Calcutta, India, since mid-February volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying. Linsey’s mother, Novella, has written this update.

Where should I begin as a mother to share this heart-wrenching story of Linsey’s trip to India? Linsey has always been the child that was unrelenting in what she wanted. If she asked for something and did not get the answer she wanted, she would not give up until you saw things her way.

Example: Linsey wanted to volunteer one day a week at the Maine Medical Center for the summer. Her father and I both work full-time jobs, and found it difficult to pick up the kids after school with our jobs never mind try to find a way to get Linsey into Portland one day a week and pick her up. Linsey would not let up on this request, and now I know why. She wanted to work the Barbara Bush Wing, so she could work with the children.

God has placed this on Linsey, and it has grown into a trip to India. Linsey is so strong I never saw it coming when I got the phone call from her. She called crying from the Philadelphia that she wanted to come home. Her father and I both told her she couldn’t because she needed to do this. I wanted to tell her, “No problem. Get out your credit card, and cancel your flights and take the next flight home. I will be waiting for you at the airport.”

Instead, I told her that I would be praying for God to give her strength. I expected a call from Linsey once she got into London telling me she was doing better, but I never got the call. I then expected her to call when she got into Calcutta about 4:30 p.m. our time. I never heard back from Linsey until 6 a.m. Friday morning. The last we had spoken was Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m.

By the time I heard her voice I was hysterical, but she was fine. She told me she met an Indian boy flying to Calcutta from London and he stayed with Linsey through customs until she was picked up by someone from the Rotary Club. We found out the Monica’s House she planned on staying at was full, so she ended up staying in a hotel. She found eating the food made her very sick every time she ate.

I thought this was going to be our worst ordeal, until I got the email about Robi. Robi is a 3 1/2 year old boy who is in the orphanage, and Linsey has fallen in love with him. She would see him every day standing in the corner as the workers were always punishing him for spilling the other children’s drinks. Robi was just put on the floor with the other children, but because he is blind in both eyes, he would fall and trip over things.

The helper thought he was mental and did not like Robi as he was hard to care for. We have found out that a doctor from Ireland has seen Robi and feels that surgery could restore his sight. We are trying to find Robi’s mother to get permission to bring him to the States, so we can get him an operation.

So far that door has not opened, and Linsey is trying to accept the fact she may not be able to help Robi. The helpers over there in the orphanage tell Linsey not to bother with Robi as he is mental, but Linsey says the only thing wrong with Robi is he is blind. She has been working with him and teaching him his ABCs and numbers. She says he is learning and sits quietly while she tries to teach him.

Robi used to have to be force-fed by the helpers and he would scream as they forced food into his mouth. Linsey has taught him that eating is a pleasant time and he sits while she feeds him. Robi also has temper tantrums because he is frustrated being blind. Linsey will grab his hands and tell him “No, this is not appropriate behavior.” If he does not quiet down, Linsey will walk away and come back in a few minutes and try to calm him down.

Even the helpers and nuns have seen a change in Robi since Linsey has been working with him. Robi recognizes Linsey’s voice when she arrives and he goes right to her. Linsey also has shared that he has infections in both eyes and she has to hold him down while the nuns try to clean his eyes.

We would love to bring Robi to the States and get him an operation, but we cannot do anything for him unless we can find his mother. For all you praying people reading this, can you please pray that we can find Robi’s mom, and that she will have a change of heart and let us bring her son to the States for this operation? And if she doesn’t want to take care of Robi that we could find him a good home.

Novella Payson


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