Helping Ludhiana's Children From Filth Into Glory
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Written by India Gospel Outreach
Categories: Prayer & Praise
Praise God for new opportunities to help young children escape from Punjab's slums in the name of Jesus.
In 1998, IGO evangelists in the state of Punjab started the first of several Asha Kiran (Schools of Hope) in the slums of Ludhiana. This city, like many other cities in India, was, and is, experiencing rapid growth from industrialization and high-tech industries. This development has brought in a major influx of illiterate and low-skilled job-seekers from the villages.
Most of these people are Dalits, regarded as the “lowest of the low” in India. Most of them settled in Ludhiana’s growing slums, taking menial jobs and living in squalor. As Hindus, they had fatalistic worldviews, believing their own bad karma from previous lives prevented them from advancing in life. Drugs and alcohol ruined many lives.
Most of the children lived in poverty and filth, illiterate, streetwise, with no hope for schooling, no hope for any future beyond the bleak life experienced by their parents and grandparents.
IGO President Valson Abraham began to minister in north Indian urban centers in the mid-1980s. It was a time of great political and communal unrest. For several years, Punjab and Ludhiana were rocked daily by riots and murders. Political and communal warfare opened people’s hearts to the gospel, and thousands came to Christ.
During this period, in 1992, Punjab Bible Training Center opened, to train new converts to proclaim the gospel and uplift poverty-stricken people in Ludhiana’s slums and elsewhere. This led to a number of sewing centers for women and medical clinics.
Systematic teaching of God’s Word at Punjab Bible Training Center molded many lives for ministry, and God called a number to minister to the poor in the slums. After graduation, these evangelists and their wives saw their calling to reach these poor families with the gospel and the love of Christ. In the spirit of Christ, they sought to meet an immediate need of these neediest people—to provide education for the children.
This led IGO to start the first Asha Kiran. Each Asha Kiran provides children with an education in basic subjects up to the fourth and fifth grades. Curriculum is the same found in government schools with this difference—everything is done from a Christian worldview. The children are also schooled in the basics of good hygiene and grooming, which they never knew before.
Over the years, these schools have established solid reputations in their communities by thorough preparation of children from the slums for educational opportunities long denied to them because of their caste. Significant numbers of children not only are better behaved and do better in their studies than children in government schools, but they further their educations in government schools in fifth grade levels and higher. Some have even gone on to college.
The Asha Kiran project has also seen significant numbers of children and their families come to Christ. As new believers, they become free from the bondage of caste, karma and fatalism. They receive the truth of God and rise above the cycle of poverty and the curse that has plagued their families for generations.
The teachers strongly believe in prayer and regularly pray for each child and family. Believers in the surrounding communities also regularly pray for the schools.
More than 10,000 children have received help through the various Asha Kiran schools sponsored by India Gospel Outreach. Most of the children come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They become strongly motivated to succeed because they realize that God has chosen them by His grace, and the old fatalism and caste limitations are lies. This has a profound impact on the children’s families and upon others in the community who witness these things.
In spite of these spiritual and emotional advantages, the schools have long suffered for lack of adequate physical buildings—no electricity, no running water, no toilets, no heating and little space as our schools meet in temporary sheds and army tents. Plus the big disadvantage of trying to learn in unsanitary environments. Every day, as they go to and from school, they must deal with filth and excrement from humans and animals.
One of the Asha Kiran schools in this category has been the “dairy complex” school, so-called because it meets upstairs in a rather ramshackle building associated with a large plant where cattle are bred and raised to provide milk and other dairy products. The cows move about, right under the children’s meeting place. The environment smells like a very large barnyard.
This “dairy complex” Asha Kiran originally met in a large tent where the children sat on the ground, but heavy rains from the monsoon season turned the ground into slush, making school sessions impossible. As a temporary arrangement, the school re-located to the dairy complex which offered drier shelter, out of the elements, much like the innkeeper offered a manger to Joseph and Mary for the birth of Jesus. They have met there ever since.
The present dairy complex facilities offer shelter from the elements, but with no electricity or heating or toilet facilities. Water must be brought in from the outside. The children have no room for any recreational or sports activities.
Attendance at the school ranges from 100-180, with ages from 3 to 12, all crowded together on the floor in three small rooms. Both teachers and children have shown heroic resilience in adjusting to these adverse conditions to make academic progress and spiritual growth.
Few if any landlords would ever allow us to install our own sanitation equipment on their property. To overcome these ghastly and unhealthful conditions during the learning process requires that the schools gather on their own land where they have more control.
What the “dairy complex” school needs are new facilities to provide the following features:
- Separate classes for children by age and grade level—impossible now.
- Smaller classes for children to provide more individualized teaching and learning.
- Space to raise the number of grade levels taught.
- On-site electrical and water supplies, toilet facilities, septic tank and biogas facility to dispose of waste products in a useful and even profitable way.
- Space for outside recreational and sports activities—unavailable now.
Over the past year, friends of IGO have provided funds to purchase the land. Now that we have the land, we now need funds to actually construct the school. The cost to construct such a building is estimated to
Thanks to other friends of IGO, we already have funds designated to purchase separate toilet facilities for boys and for girls, with wash basins, and also a constructive means to dispose of waste products.
This includes a septic tank to store the waste products and a system to convert the waste products into biogas which would be put into cylinders used for school purposes or to help the immediate community.
This technology is especially profitable when used in facilities used by many people. All the Asha Kiran schools have enrollments of more than 100 students, plus teachers and assistants.
- Pray for all funds needed to build larger and permanent facilities for the “dairy complex” school in Ludhiana, Punjab.
- Pray for increased influence of the “dairy complex” school and other Asha Kiran schools in proclaiming the gospel and transforming lives and destinies of children who do not otherwise have opportunities
- Pray for funds to improve facilities for other Asha Kiran schools.