She never knew her father. She was raised by her mother and grandmother. At 12 years of age her mother hired her out to earn money for the household. She worked at the plywood factory from morning until sundown. She earned 120 Indian rupees per day (~$2). It is fairly typical for minority tribal children to be hired out by their parents. She is of the Adivasi, which means “forest dwellers.” The Adavasi are considered the aboriginal people of India. According the Indian Labor Bureau, the Adavasi are characterized by…
- Geographical isolation – they live in cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hills and forests.
- Backwardness – their livelihood is based on primitive agriculture, a low-value closed economy with a low level of technology that leads to their poverty. They have low levels of literacy and health.
- Distinctive culture, language and religion – communities have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion.
- Shyness of contact – they have a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people.
When the founder of Bright Hope School, Miss Premila, invited her to the school to get an education it took some negotiating with her mom, but she was finally able to come. In just a few years she has transformed before our eyes! She is an excellent student and wants to be a teacher one day. She is also a fervent believer – a fruit of her life at the school. She has poise and charm and leadership qualities and is smart. She has a future. She is one of the students whose lives are taking a completely different course because of the efforts of the people here.
Prietty, Sanjana, Shanta, Irene and Amit are their names. Most of the kids are on Winter Break and go to visit relatives. These 5 stayed at the school. For one reason or another, home was not an option. The girl I spoke of above is no longer able to go home because she cannot contribute financially to her home – another difficulty of the desperate poverty out of which these students come.
Ajay, Ruben, Jonathon, Aphy. Daya are their names…. they and the other teachers who serve at Bright Hope are so inspiring. In their culture they are considered the low caste people (Dalit). There are constant reminders of their “less-than” status in this part of India. But their humility, dignity and kindness speak to their true royal identify as children of God. They practically glow with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our cultures couldn’t be more different, and yet we are with family when we are here. This is truly an outpost of the Kingdom of God
Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered the, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, not will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
And so it is. The presence of God could not be more palpable. I am without superlatives to capture the sense of Heaven you can experience in a place like this. In every sense of the meaning of the word, this school is awesome.