Last Saturday night I returned to the States after spending nearly two weeks visiting our field partners throughout Southern India.
The trip was filled with travel, emotional encounters and was extremely hot (most days it reached 105 to 115 degrees with little cloud cover)! Regardless to the challenges of the day we knew our day would end much better than all of the India girls we meet and once back in the States would be at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
Many times over I asked myself if I would have the same fortitude, desire and discipline to reach for a better tomorrow if I was faced to endure the same challenges they faced every day? Honestly, I don’t think so.
Here is one example: One of our field partners provides a baby home for rescued infant girls, a wonderful orphanage for nearly 160 girls (age 2 to 18) as well as an English Medium private school for not only their girls but the poorest of the poor children from neighboring villages. A total of 502 students (pre-k to 10th standard) attend this school.
The principal is an amazing woman that leads her staff and students with a blend of order, discipline, constant encouragement and love that is rarely seen. Her teachers earn 60% less than most government school teachers as well as the pay at other private schools in the region. Most village families earn less than $1.50 per day and work very hard to come up with the $60 to $75 per year (that is correct) to send their children to this school.
Here is why: Last year 25 of 25 of the students taking their 10th standard final exams (somewhat like a blend of most state’s high school final exams along with college entrance tests) successfully passed and were allowed the opportunity to continue their studies. That’s correct – 100% of the children from the poorest of the poor, taught by teachers earning a fraction of what they could make elsewhere. You might assume that the school simplified the exams or tested down to make sure they had a success rate – you would be wrong. Students were required to ride a bus for nearly one hour to a testing site and take their exams next to those that had a much better environment.
Here is how: It was Saturday night and eighteen of the girls from the orphanage were studying under two florescent light bulbs in the courtyard. It was 8:30 at night, the temperature and humidity was still hovering around 85. There was no adult supervision yet the girls quietly studied and encourage each other. The same happened on Sunday night. On Monday morning I was up early and around 5:00 am watched three of the girls complete their morning chores with one hand as they held their study book closely to their chest.
You see these girls keenly understand that they have been given a chance and may have only one opportunity to change the destiny of their lives – to no longer be viewed as a liability and an unneeded expense to society but to make way for a better tomorrow. Never before had their mothers and grandmothers been given such a chance and they were not going to let it pass them by. Many of their sisters did not make it past the first few days of their life.
We, at The Rhema Project are looking how we can continue to leverage our resources and talents to make way for a better tomorrow. Over the next few months we will continue to outline how you might be able to participate with this or one of our other field partners. We will be launching a new website and blog to better report to you.
But here is what I know today:
$5 per month allows another orphaned girl to attend an amazing school
$25 per month increases a teacher’s income by 30%
$50 per month pays for new text and workbooks for an entire class of students
$100 per month enables the school to hire a certified teacher so to expand to include 11th and 12th standards (college prep)
The most difficult time for me is when I first re-enter my world in the states. As I sit here this morning sipping on my Starbuck’s coffee and eating a pastry I realize I just spent more than it costs to send an orphaned girl to school in southern India for an entire month. I realize it is not only improbable but unrealistic to deny myself all of the comforts of living in America but God has called me to do something and I encourage you to consider the same.