A number of memorable people populate Shelley Seale’s “The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India”: The volunteers who selflessly run the orphanages that house millions of children, the teachers and housemothers who work there, the Westerners, like Seale herself, who have chosen to give money and time to people who live halfway across the world. But mostly one is struck by the children themselves, some of them true orphans, some of them “economic orphans,” abandoned by parents who could no longer support them. Sibani, Rashikanta, Sumitra — these are children who would seem to have little to live for, but who often face their trials with indomitable personalities.
Though much of what Seale writes about is painful to read, much of it is filled with hope. Yes, most of India’s orphans live in grueling circumstances. But Seale emphasizes that “The Weight of Silence” isn’t a depressing book. Though the needs are great, the children Seale meets are bright and resilient, and would clearly thrive with a modest amount of support.