Welcome to India

This blog is intended to make a country that most Westerners find to be otherworldly not so much so. We enjoy sharing our experiences, noting our observations, highlighting our impressions and otherwise recounting our adventures in India while helping our blogwatchers to be vicariously closer to this grand country. Welcome to India.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The CCH Impact - One Child At a Time: Ajay

A Covenant Children’s Homes Story – Ajay

Modugalapalem Church-based Orphan Home

Ajay was born into a poor family in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh.  He lived in a well known Hindu town, Tirupathi.  The older of two brothers, Ajay was nine years old when his father died of kidney failure in 2011 at the young age of 30 years old.  His death was the result of alcoholism, a common response to the financial pressure on impoverished men in rural India.

After attempting life for a couple years without her husband, Ajay’s mother also gave in to an all-too-common response to social and financial pressure, committing suicide.  The despair and sadness of a widowed young woman in India is devastating.

At the age of 12, Ajay and his younger brother were orphaned. 

After this, Ajay and his brother were taken in by their uncle.  Extended family often step in for the children of deceased parents, but after time these children are often neglected and have to learn to fend for themselves.  Ajay’s uncle tried to help, but was not able to meet his nephews’ many needs.

Soon Ajay was truant from school, behaving angrily and understandably resentful about life.  His future seemed bleak.  This story is a common one in rural India – the result of a lack of education, a lack of social support and, ultimately, a lack of spiritual foundation.

Ajay with his CCH brother, Santhosh. 

Ajay is currently 8th grade and 14 years old.

When Ajay’s uncle learned about the nearby Covenant Children’s Home in the village of Modugalapalem, the pastor and Ajay’s uncle agreed that this would be a good opportunity for Ajay.  Ajay became a part of CCH in 2013, while his younger brother went to live with an aunt in a nearby city.

When Ajay came to the Modugalapalem CCH Home, Pastor Ravi Kumar introduced him to a daily structure that emphasized worship and devotions, educational pursuits and socialization with the other nine boys from similar situations in their lives.  As they spend time in the morning and evening focused on the love of God, receive healthy food and nutrition, attend the very best college preparatory school in the area and participate in the family chores and responsibilities, these boys have a chance to not just survive, but thrive. 

The Modugalapalem CCH Pastor Ravi Kumar and his wife, Catherine

CCH is providing Ajay not only a sense of belonging, but a way to heal  from his tragic childhood experiences.  In addition to offering physical health, nutrition and normal growth, Ajay now has an opportunity for the strongest educational preparation for his future and, most importantly, discipleship in Jesus.  In this, CCH offers Ajay a second chance at a life of fulfillment and reward as he learns about God’s purpose and plan is for his life.

Regarding this, Ajay says, “God is very good. He is always doing good things.  He will keep me with Him always. God will help my vision to come true.”

Ajay (back row, middle) with his Modugalapalem
CCH home brothers

Ajay describes his spiritual life in the following way:

“I came from a Hindu family, though my uncle is Christian.  The biggest difference is losing the fear that marks Hindus’ belief.  One night I had a dream and felt that somebody touched my heart. When he touched my heart, I had no more fear like Hindus.” 

Others have shared with Ajay that this dream was God’s Spirit touching Ajay’s heart and filling it with love.

Ajay, on the right, with some of his CCH brothers and, Charlotte, a recent visitor and part of the family that sponsors the Modugalapalem CCH home.

By his own words, Ajay’s life is much better in the church home than it was while living with his uncle.  Ajay’s favorite subject in school is math and, as the oldest boy in his church home, Ajay is developing into a leader.  As for the future, Ajay plans on attending University and in ten years Ajay says he dreams of caregiving in a CCH home like Modugalapalem. 

Covenant Children’s Homes
A Ministry of India Christian Ministries

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Hardest Part - Where Rural India and Trump Supporters Intersect...

Educating girls, while the key to changing societies, 
is not championed by many in rural villages.

A (really good) classroom in rural India.

These boys of NTR Colony are well on their way to a future of hope and promise.

Training the CCH pastor fathers is one of our primary 
tasks on the ground here in India.  Can you find Sean in this picture?

Last week we shared our biggest challenge in doing this work in India. 

“Event-oriented” culture (as opposed to “time-oriented”)?
Jaya far away from her Grandmas?

These are all difficult, but not the biggest challenge we face.

To fulfill our vision, hope and goals in the long-term, we must help change the mentality, change the culture of the rural villages of India.

"Young women should not be married off at age 14.”

"A life of labor after schooling of just five years is not acceptable.”

“Life is valuable beyond just what someone can do for you.”

"Marriage and family can be valued in combination with education.”

"Education is not synonymous with the declining morals of modernization…”

These are statements we have had to make over and over to any number of family members and others directly and indirectly involved with the children in our program.

To quote our recent blog, “Our biggest challenge is to speak life and hope into village mindsets that have never imagined one of their own attending a university, working outside of day labor or marrying in their mid-20s rather than mid-teens.”

Changing culture.  Changing mindsets.  One child, one orphan at a time.

But this also leads to a bigger discussion.  

India is not that different from many other nations facing battles within their borders between rural and urban, uneducated and educated, “traditional” values and “modern” values.  The three countries that we spend the most time in – India, Thailand and the United States – are facing similar challenges on how a country should move forward when these disparities are so present among the citizens of a country. 

India’s inequality is out of control. Thailand’s military interrupted democracy to halt the spiraling division and has the difference between the educated and uneducated ever been more pronounced in the United States than at this very moment in time? 

So the problems we are facing here are not unique to India. 

Globalization is providing more and more opportunity, but also revealing more and more disparity within nations.  Our focus at CCH is to help take every last orphan or abandoned child that comes our way and prepare them to help with these problems that will remain long into the future.