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The Best Fireworks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Sparks fly across the sky. The city of New York is dazzling with lights and festivities. People are kissing and hugging: it is the Fourth of July, the day that America became a beautiful nation all its own. We are here to enjoy the sights, to experience happiness and gratitude among the ones we love most.

I can't help but feel that this scene seems a little wrong. We are celebrating and smiling as people are dying across the world. No water to drink, families lost, and so many without homes. One person can't change everything, but one individual who cares can start a wave of hope.

Earlier in the summer, my family and I went to India. At the start of the trip, I was oblivious to everything around me. I always traveled in an air-conditioned car with my music blasting. My cousins and I would create dance moves and make funny faces at the passing cars. The times we experienced were always grand. The food I ate was delicious, and my family pampered me to no end. They would say, “Eat more! Have fun!” And that is exactly what I did.

Then one day, as my family and I were driving to my cousin's house, a beggar stopped at my window. The young girl had a baby in her arms. She was wearing a dress that was not fit for any human being. Her hair was disheveled, and her eyes were filled with sorrow. She knocked on the window and spoke in another language, begging for money. I immediately wanted to give her all I had, but before I could say anything, our driver shooed her away. I watched her disappear in a crowd of hundreds of beggars. They had always been there; I just had never seen them.

I talked to my parents about how we needed to help. They agreed, but none of us knew what to do. When we returned from India we found an online article titled “13-Year-Old Forms Her Own Nonprofit.” We were amazed by what we saw, and arranged to meet this girl in New York. She told us about the orphanages she ran, one in India and one in Africa. We were excited when she spoke about India. We contacted the orphanage directly, speaking to the man who ran it. Before we knew it, summer had arrived again, and we were off to India with a new plan: to spend one week of our vacation at the orphanage.

My eyes teared up when I saw the children. Their glittering eyes and round faces with chubby cheeks made me smile. They looked happy and healthy, unlike the emaciated children we had seen on the streets. They looked up at me and sweetly said, “Aka, aka,” which means “big sister” in Tamil. My heart swelled. They were already calling me their sister.

My sister and I fed them, helped bathe them, played with them, and put some of the babies to sleep. When it came time to give them milk, they impatiently poked and prodded us because the wait was so long. Each was given a bottle. I remember one baby, Akshaya, happily lay on the floor and drank hers. The sight was beautiful, and the couple doing all the work deserved the credit. On that trip I experienced the best fireworks – not the festivities in the sky, but the feeling in my heart when I lent a hand to someone in need.

Back home, I created a club called Hand in Hand with Humanity. We do local community service projects, like playing bingo with the elderly at nursing homes, planting trees for Earth Day, Christmas caroling with people with disabilities, and providing dog biscuits for a local animal shelter. We are currently selling baked goods to benefit an organization that helps sex-trafficking victims.

Making somebody else's life worth living is a great way to give and receive happiness. Finding someone who needs a friend is one of the best ways of giving back. I may have started the wave, but it's up to you to keep it going.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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ilovepancakes96 said...
Sept. 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm:
i love your essay.  its so heartwarming!!!!!
 
helptheworld101 replied...
Jan. 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm :
Thank you so much!!!
 
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