Michael D. Clark reports:
One week after birth in her native India, Molly Shields was abandoned by her parents because she is an albino.
Though Molly was later adopted – and moved halfway around the world by her adoptive Mason parents – this tiny youngster sporting an over-sized heart refuses to abandon her once-fellow orphans in India.
In 2010 Molly was bedside at her adopted mother, Teri Shields, as the Mason mother of five recovered from cancer surgery. Shields read a just-arrived letter from the nuns who operate the primitive Ashyra orphanage in the city of Bangalore in southern India.
It was a heart-wrenching communique, with descriptions of new improvement in the poorly funded, shoddy facility that only had electricity three hours per week.
The nuns wrote Teri and Gary Shields about their futile efforts to raise money to purchase solar panels for generating temporary electricity for lights, water purification and refrigeration of medicines.
Shields recalls Molly’s light blue eyes widening with an idea.
“I could sell my Polly Pocket toys. They are worth a lot.”
Teri still gets emotional at the memory.
“Molly was abandoned at just one week old because of cultural fear that surrounds albinism in India. So my heart was about to burst with joy to see firsthand the love that this child shares for the people of her native country,” Shields says.
Instead of selling toys, Molly and her family created a Facebook page called “Let Their Be Light: Molly’s Mission” (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Let-there-be-light-Mollys-Mission/106932696033539).
On it, they told the story of the orphanage, which took in the outcast Molly and other albino children among its more than 100 orphans, all cared for by nuns. Two years later the, site has raised more than $5,000 – enough to purchase four solar panels for the orphanage.
Now 9 and a student at Mason Heights Elementary, Molly pauses from her busy class day to do what she rarely does: Reflect on her own generous spirit.
“I remember at night we needed candles and it was very hard to read and to help the sick people so I wanted to help the orphanage children,” she says. “I feel like I’m bringing people together for a good cause. It’s amazing so many people wanted to help by donating money.”
Mason Schools Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline recently visited Molly at school to give her pointers on dealing with the news media. Molly’s mom says producers of “Inside Edition’’ plan to tell her story soon.
Kist-Kline came away moved.
“We are so proud of her and I can’t wait to watch her movement grow as others are inspired by this brave and determined young lady,” she says.
Since 2007, when she was adopted by the Shields family at age 4, Molly has been the youngest of an extraordinary Warren County family. Four of the Shields’ six children have albinism, a genetic condition that limits the level of pigmentation in their skin, hair and eyes.
Shields says her family – devout Christians – believes one of their roles is to provide safe haven.
“My husband and I have spent most of our adult lives protecting our children from the stereotypes that the world has created for such individuals. What we’ve learned along the way is that albinism does not define who a person is, but is instead an element of who they will become when faced with adversity.”
“Molly was a castaway because of others’ fear, yet she does not even know nor care,” she says. “She thinks about her loving (nuns) in India and wants desperately to help the children, the ones who wait for parents. Her desire to share hope and happiness still amazes me.”