This week’s ROOM contributor is Ali B., our India Country Coordinator. Ali works tirelessly to bridge gaps for the children she came to know by name while serving as a missionary in India with Reach Out Orphanage Ministries. One of the cornerstones of ROOM’s vision is to ensure that the children we serve have a safe, healthy living environment. Read more from Ali to learn what that looks like in real life.
While I was anticipating moving to India in 2013, I was mentally preparing to encounter poverty and lots of it. Based on previous experiences in different countries, and even parts of the United States, I was ready to see children in the streets, families making their homes out of garbage, and sub-par living conditions. I was expecting this- and I thought I was “ready” for it.
For the first few weeks of being on Indian soil, my anticipations and preparations served me fairly well. I saw idol worship that broke my heart; children living in straw huts that were in worse condition then the cow’s huts; cardboard mats set up for beds in the railway station; and innumerable people suffering with sickness from curable diseases. I saw these things, and while it broke me, I could handle these experiences as I leaned into Christ and His Word and related the injustices around me to a broken world.
I could handle these experiences until I moved into the place I would call home.
I arrived at Bethel Children’s Home about three weeks after being in India and I experienced something completely new. Bethel is located in a beautiful campus surrounded by little mountains and open fields. Bethel has a school and college located on their campus, along with their staff living quarters and children’s home. Spiritually, Bethel is well-off. They know the one true living God and find their strength in Him. The children who live here have some food to eat every day. Bethel has running water and electricity (well, about half of the time).
Bethel is a beautiful children’s home filled with the love of Christ.
However, the children at Bethel have struggled significantly with unmet needs. From the time I first came to Bethel until now, ROOM has been able to help in a number of ways. We fill in nutrition gaps by providing fresh fruit and protein. We provide basic healthcare services and medicines. We supply hygiene items. We provided culturally-appropriate Gospel materials in the children’s first language. We provided a safe place to play by building playground equipment. We built sanitary bathroom facilities. We provide school supplies, school uniforms and other education needs. We provided durable, easy-to-clean bedding materials for each child. I am so thankful for what the Lord has done through ROOM for these special children living in this special place! While I celebrate this joyfully, I know there are still urgent, unmet needs.
At this time, the two top needs at Bethel are safety and building repairs.
SAFETY: Bethel’s open campus is beautiful. It gives the children ample room to play and run. However, it makes Bethel a target for unwanted guests (both people and animals). Years ago, Bethel was the target of Christian persecution. This children’s home ministry was burned to the ground and, although no one was seriously injured (praise God), the buildings were destroyed. In areas near Bethel, there are reports of gangs kidnapping children for terrible purposes like sex-trafficking and begging-rings. Building a concrete wall around Bethel’s campus will protect the children and staff, as well as ensuring the children (the oldest are teenagers) do not leave the campus unsupervised. It will cost approximately $10,000 to build this safety wall.
BUILDING: The roof over the children’s bedrooms (both boys’ and girls’) is in poor repair. The tin desperately needs to be replaced. During this current rainy season, the leaks mean it is literally raining inside the kids’ bedrooms. This makes it difficult for the children’s bodies to dry after walking to and from school in the rain. It also creates standing water which attracts mosquitoes. As a result, many of the children have fevers, coughs and diarrhea. Several have been hospitalized with malaria. It will cost approximately $5,000 to replace the leaking tin roof.
When I consider life at Bethel, I am tremendously overjoyed that each of these children are growing up in a Christian home. They have food to eat. They are receiving an education. They are loved.
All of these things are great from the surface, until I began to live and invest in each life represented at Bethel, and I began to realize that God was asking me to pray for, and strive for, more for them. Due to the priority of providing food, clean clothing and personal hygiene materials, health needs, education and Gospel materials… there are not enough financial resources to repair the roof, or build a safety wall. These children deserve to sleep in safe, dry bedrooms. They are worthy of living in a safe, secure campus. These are things that are important and matter in the eyes of Christ.
I have begun to see that, not only does God care for the needs of the one, but He also cares for the needs of the 70. We have a chance to be a part of keeping 70 children safe from the rain and malaria-carrying mosquitoes by replacing the roof over the children’s dormitories. We have a chance to build a safety-wall that will keep out people aimed at harming our children or robbing the campus.
Will you be a part of these children’s stories today? Please visit A New Roof and Safety Wall RAZOO PAGE to learn more and to make a donation!