Friday, February 23, 2007

Chennai – Day 5 (Friday)


We once again began the day with Ray giving us a bit of perspective. How fast is development happening and should we be critical of it? When we (the U.S.) were as old as these countries black people and women could not vote. He often wondered how Hindu India has bookend countries that are Muslim. Pakistan and Bangladesh were once part of India. These countries were Hindu long before Islam. Pakistan was created at midnight 1947, I’m not sure about Bangladesh. The river people (Pakistan and Bangladesh) were discriminated against and when Islam came they were prime for conversion. He then put our own history in perspective. He told us not to be judgmental about where India is as a country. Thought India is an ancient civilization it is a very new country. India was occupied by the British for 200 years and only gained independence in 1947. Two thirds of the nations were created after WWII. The U.S. is just a little more than 200 years old depending on where you put the beginning, 1776 or 1789. 57 years later, which is the same age as India we were in a civil war. Women could not vote until 1920 and Black people 1965. India is doing well compared to us at their age.

Our first presenter was Prateep Philip, Inspector General Police, Social Justice. Founder of Friends of Police.

When Raji Ghandi was assinated in 1991 Prateep was the assistant superintendent of police and was 3 ft away from the bomb blast and the only one that survived.

In India there is one policeman to every 1000 people. He has developed a program much like our neighborhood watch. It is called Friends of Police (FOP) which is a training program for individuals to help the police prevent crime.

Next we had presentations from three women. Joshy Tewes of Intermission was the first to present. Joshy is married to a German man and their organization has given birth to the micro-finance organization we visited earlier and the Community College we observed yesterday. Joshy’s guiding Scriptures has been the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and the story of Moses’ mother. She was dynamic.

Next we heard from a young woman, Kavita, who co-pastors the Powerhouse church we heard about on Tuesday evening. She is one of the very, very few women in ministry that anyone here even knows about. She spoke on the plight of women in India. Even though they have had a woman Prime Minister, the Indians are very conservative and women do not have many rights. She spoke about violence against women, dowry harassment and numerous social issues facing women in India today.

The final presentation was by Sarah Chanda on women’s rights in India. She went right to the bottom line to say the problem is that India like many other societies is based on patriarchy. She is an activist for women’s rights.

We had lunch together at the hotel and then we went out for the afternoon. Our first stop, the community college that Joshy and her husband started They have 7 colleges for girls that are dropouts either due to poverty or orphaned. The girls are between 15-and 45 (women) – they are enrolled in a one year course…they offer six courses, tailoring, computer lab, primary school education training etc The site we visited currently has 162 students. You can find them at

We then broke into different groups. One group went to a leprosy colony, one group went to observe a street ministry and I went with 4 men to a ministry called The House of Destitution. 2 young Catholic women stared this org in 1992 feeding some hungry elderly homeless…now they run a residential house for elderly women who have been abandoned by their families or widowed and have no one to take care of them. They also run an after school program for children in the slum and feed them dinner. We prayed for some of the women. They were beautiful and so happy to see us. In the van on the way back to the hotel I began to emotionally process all I have seeing, hearing, smelling, touching. India is a very sensory place and coming from the U.S. it feels like an assault on all my senses. We were back for about one hour and then a group of us went back to Sparky’s for dinner.

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