I have been reflecting on my trip a lot this week, so thought I would share it with you.
Why India you might ask...well, my church is a part of an "adopt a village" program through an organisation called India Gospel League (IGL), this means that we individually sponsor children from this village and we (our church) provide funds to aid the village through our weekly offerings. I will explain some of the things this helps the village with below.
So having a connection with India, being invited and the "OK" from my hubby was all I needed to jump at the opportunity. It is something I have always wanted to do.
Before I start I want you to know that this was the most amazing, humbling and life changing experience I have ever had the privilege of being a part of. Putting it into words in this short summary will only give you a glimmer of this. Not to mention the fact that I may be creative, but literary creativity is not my gift (I'm a picture person). So, I am going to show you a few photo's of the time spent in the adopted village and attempt to share some of what I experienced, whilst keeping it short.
This is the main street of the village "Sirumalai" there is not too much more to it than what you can see here, the school is behind me and you are looking at buildings that house trades people and a couple of shops. They have electricity as you can see but no running water into their homes, they collect water from the tank in the village.
This group of women are referred to as the "untouchables" they are not allowed to assimilate with the rest of the village (nor are their husbands and children) because they are the lowest of the Hindu cast system. They have their own separate quarters on the outskirts of the village. These women are a part of a "women's transformation group" that IGL have set up, they receive micro loans that allow them to buy supplies like fertilizer, pesticides or seeds for farming their 1/2 acre plot of land that they do not own, these crops are their main source of income.
IGL set up a sewing school and workshop for women in the village, these women were taught how to sew and are now working as seamstresses, they make uniforms, dresses and kids cloths. They receive the equivalent of approx AUD 10c per garment. These women now have the opportunity to work and contribute financially to the family.
IGL provided a local school for the village so that the children don't have to travel 1 hour by bus down the mountain to town. The kids performed a dance and sang for us, it was the sweetest thing ever. We then were given the opportunity to hand each child a new school uniform and back pack, seeing the joy in their faces when receiving such simple gifts was heart warming.
This is the classroom for the kindy kids ages 3-4, they were sooo cute, they sang the ABC's in English for us. The room is not much bigger than what you can see in the photo.
This is a ceremony to present micro loans to multiple men & women's transformation groups, the loans were AUD40 for the group at 2% interest. Each group presented their earnings and their savings. Prior to receiving the micro loans they didn't have bank accounts or understand the concept of saving and most weren't working at all. IGL provide support and advice to help them run their small businesses and teach them how to save money.
IGL organise after school tutoring for the kids in the surrounding villages, we visited a few of these and gave the kids new backpacks.
It was such a privilege to be able to visit Sirumalai and see how the community is being transformed, meeting the kids and witnessing joy and thankfulness of the parents because of the work IGL are doing there was so special. It also made me realise how a small amount of our Aussie dollars can make a HUGE difference in a country like India.
God is doing amazing things over there and it was wonderful to feel like I am a part of something (a very little part) that makes such a huge difference to so many people. However, I think they contributed much more to my life than I theirs.
This experience changed my heart, and whilst I love my art, I constantly find myself questioning what I'm doing to make a difference in the world and I struggle with promoting materialism. This is one reason it took me so long to start a blog and why I don't post a lot of "stuff" on my blog. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate beautiful things and I love decorating my house just like the rest of you. I just struggle with focusing so much of my time posting about it and promoting it.
So this is where I am at...and can I say what a joy it was for me to write this post and look back through the photos, it brought tears to my eyes.
I will close by saying, if you ever get the opportunity to do something like this DON'T HESITATE. And supporting organizations like IGL is one wonderful way you can contribute to addressing poverty in our world.
Thanks for reading this post, it means a lot to me.