Whilst staying in a hotel in Jaisalmer, India in August 2010, I noticed some beautiful portraits of some young Indian girls hanging on a wall. One day the hotel owner found me admiring the photos and he proudly announced that they were of his own children. He then told me that they had been taken by a young American called Rocky who was now living in India in a refuge home for women and kids with HIV just south of Chennai.
At this point in my trip I had no set plans and so was looking for any opportunities to experience places in India I wouldn’t otherwise discover. I found Rocky on Facebook and sent him a message, asking if he would mind me heading that way to meet him and spend a few days hanging out. He seemed excited at the prospect of the company of another Westerner and encouraged me to get there as soon as possible.
After snaking my way through central India on my bike I arrived at the home a few weeks later. Meeting Rocky for the first time, I was invited to join him and the kids for lunch in the outside play hall. His bond and love for the kids was immediately obvious; speaking words of love and encouragement as well as discipline when required, all in a mix of English and Tamil. The kids return this love for Rocky Anna (brother) and it’s hard to imagine where their lives would be without Rocky.
I spent almost 3 weeks at the home. 3 weeks which I found quite physically and emotionally draining. Rocky has been there for several years and now calls India home. He is a man doing a remarkable thing, incredibly strong and humble and committed beyond belief.
His best friend and film maker, Steve Hoover, went to India to make a documentary about Rocky. The film, Blood Brother, recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to huge critical acclaim, winning both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award Prize for a U.S. documentary. Congratulations guys!
Having only seen the trailer (which is stunning), I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety, hopefully soon. In the meantime here is the trailer as well as some photos I took during my time with Rocky Anna and the kids.
If you want to know more about the film and the work Rocky’s doing, you can find info on the Blood Brother website as well as ways you can help out.