Well day 2 in Zakhira completed. What a day! The day felt a little more structured now we know the team, the children and have seen some of the slum. We ran a boys group of 15 in the morning, a girls group of 16 in the afternoon, 9 older children and students in a small work shop in the afternoon, painted all day and a smaller group of 5 visited a new part of the slum in the afternoon.
last night we met as a team to reflect on our first day in Zakhira. The experiences of the day had stirred so many different thoughts and emotions in the group. Often it was the experience of sitting in someone's hut and praying for them that touched us the most; one woman who had been trying for a child for 7 years asked us to pray that she would get the child she so desired- I thought of the gift of
life my year old Isobel is to me and felt a deep sadness for her. Another woman we prayed with was not feeling well, her husband had died a year ago, her children were struck out of school because they had gone back to their fathers village when he had died and where not allowed back, and she feared for one of her sons who was getting heavily into alcohol. As we stood on her 2.5 metre by 2.5 metre dark hut where 4 of them lived with two of her daughters working on the floor and prayed, we could feel some of the burden she felt pressing down on her.
Other reflections in our group were grappling with the intense poverty we had witnessed and yet the strong sense of community that was evident in the welcome we received, in the work of the community health volunteers and as we listened to the older children and students referring to each other as their friends and neighbours.
It is clear that Asha being present in this slum for the last 7 years has made many positive changes possible; community toilets, some concreted walkways, small loans for starting businesses, incredible health care and going from less than 30% of children going to school to 95% attending. Thank God for Asha and their incredible contribution to these many people's lives in over 45 slums.
Working with the older children and students today, they appear like teenagers from anywhere in the world, the 'MTV generation' I guess. Wearing clothing labels we know, full of fun and dreams of college, work and a good future. And yet they go back to a tiny hut, sharing with 3, 4, 5 or more, with open sewers outside, a busy train line within 30 metres......and need to study hard in this context to create a new life for themselves and their families. how challenging is this?
Two of the slum lads are travelling with us now on our way to old Delhi, normal teenagers, chatting and laughing with us, how easy it is to forget the conditions they will go home to tonight.
Please pray God works through us and uses our contribution to make a lasting difference for the Asha team and the families we meet and work with.