Jungle Trek

Jan 19, 2010 | India

One of the most exhilarating and fascinating adventures that Loren and I are honored to be involved in is a trek into the “jungle.”  The tribal village ministry is an extension of Prakash, conducted by Dr. Suresh an alumnus.  The reason for the visits this week was to see families and widows that were given goats or a cow as a Christmas gift from our donors. It was given at Christmas instead of gifts for their own family members.  I don’t think that any of us were aware of the impact that this generosity would have.

There are so many stories that it will take me several emails to relate them all. These gifts were given as a humanitarian gesture by Dr. Suresh days before we arrived in India.  We are only the pipeline, and did not want there to be any misunderstanding as to who had given the gift.

It was a bright sunny day, but thankfully, still not very warm.  The roads are so rough that an average of 10 miles an hour in the Qualis is the best that can be achieved.  I’m sure that every organ in my body was jiggled, but let me tell you, it was worth every bump.

Our first stop was in the “Veggie Tales Village” so called because of the effect of a Veggie Tales Daily Vacation Bible School on the village.  I wrote tons about this village several years ago.  Anyway, we arrived at the hut/home of Vastla, a widow who is from the Untouchable caste.

She doesn’t know her age, but thinks it about 65.  Because of arthritis she no longer can get on her knees to clean the toilets and collect the human waste of the village, therefore has no means of income.

Her son says since he now has a young son,
and his sister and her four-year-old son living with him, he can no longer afford to feed his mother. Women ALWAYS get slighted first.   Another thing, when she was able to work, she could not sleep or eat in the home and had to stay in a bamboo shelter attached to the side of the house until she could purify herself.

There is simply no way to explain what a change it has made in her life to have five goats.  Actually, the gift was suppose to be just one male and two females,  (The goats breed every six months) but the larger of the two females gave birth of twins AFTER the negotiated price was made, so the widow’s gift was expanded greatly.

Now she merely takes the goats into the field daily for food and then later brings a load of fodder home for the night.  What’s more she can sleep and eat in her son’s home and uses the former bamboo hut for the goats. Food for the family will no longer be an issue.
Dr. Suresh will to continue live Jesus by helping her with vaccines and other health issues.

As we left, her crooked tooth smile was more poignant than any “Thank you” could ever be spoken.
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