Right on the India-Pakistan border, there’s a village of about 600 people – hard-working and creative but overlooked by government for basic services like clean water and education. Families struggle to provide enough food for themselves, and both education and employment opportunities do not come by often.
As you can imagine, during India’s Delta wave of COVID-19 last year, the lockdowns were crippling for the village.
Those who were day labourers lost their jobs. Families despaired that with schools closed, their children would fall behind in their education, closing off a vital path out of poverty.
Our partner, the Church of North India through the Amritsar Diocese, stepped into the breach.
They got special permits to travel to the village to find out who needed help and why. And they set about casting their stones across the water to create ripples of change that continue today.
For one family, the project workers were a lifeline.
Ranjit and her two sons were struggling to find enough to eat; elder son Yash had no work and younger son Patel was finding it almost impossible to keep up with his schooling.
Three years earlier, Ranjit’s husband had died, leaving the family without income. Ranjit is partly paralysed and has never been able to work, and there was no way for either of her sons to contribute because of the lockdowns and job losses.
A simple stone cast across the water – assistance from our partner in Amritsar, the Church of North India – turned the family’s fortunes around completely.
Ranjit’s youngest son Patel was invited to attend an education centre run by the Church. Education workers followed him up and discovered that his family had no food or medical supplies, and no source of income. They first provided immediate assistance: meals, information about the pandemic, masks and soap. Then they spent time talking to Ranjit to see if they could work out how to improve the family's fortunes longer term.
As a widow with a disability, Ranjit was eligible for a small pension. Many of you will have experienced how hard it is to navigate the social security system even in Australia! For those without education or knowledge of their rights in India, it’s a nightmare.
Our partners helped Ranjit understand the process to apply and arranged for her to visit a local office to advocate for herself and her sons, who were also eligible for modest payments.
“I had tried many times to find this kind of support,” Ranjit says. “But everything failed. We are very thankful to the Church and the Project staff who have been so kind to help out my family and me when were in so much trouble.”
The Church of North India isn’t just about providing immediate assistance. They’re committed to helping people understand the structures that oppress them. They provide skills and training to help people advocate for themselves so they can create change that lasts.
Education is a major part of our partner's toolkit. During the pandemic, the project workers shifted to learning online in communities as much as they possibly could, communicating with both parents and students via mobile phones. Ranjit’s youngest son Patel accessed the lessons on a phone he shares with his mother and brother. As a result, he’s managed to stay in school, engaged at a time when he could so easily have fallen by the wayside.
With help from our partners, Ranjit’s eldest son Yash also found work as an ambulance driver. His job has opened him up to the world beyond his own village, and he’s proud to be able to contribute to his family and help alleviate the stress his mother has felt for so long.
We see these stories emerging from our partner communities all over the world. The combination of immediate support, training and education, encouragement and commitment creates lasting change, over and over again.
We invite you to continue to be part of this story of change, and thousands of others, by giving a generous gift to support the work of our partners. Your donation can allow our partners in India and across Asia, Africa and the Pacific to provide critical training, employment opportunities, clean water, education and hope to families like Ranjit’s. Combined with funding from the Australian Government, your gift will have an even wider impact and reach more people (read more).