I pray that each of you are well! I just wanted to share with you a story from our ministry here. A few of us collected the facts, and I put it into a story. We actually did much work with "Sandeep", the man in the story, so the facts are from first hand testimony and experiences. The others in the story are also people we met in person.
So, here is the story:
The Wadari People
Do you ever stop to think about the pavement beneath your feet? How did it get there? Many people don't think about it because road construction workers are responsible for pavement. But what happens in under-developed countries? Modern technological advances are foreign in many countries, consider India for example. Though this large country is growing in world status, modern technology seldom interferes with the caste system, especially when it comes to those in lower castes.
The Wadari people are considered low-caste in Indian society. Originally, these "stone-cutters" immigrated from Pakistan, and have spread throughout India, and as far as Bangladesh.
Currently, over 150,000 Wadari people are living in the Pune, Maharastra area. Because of the lack of proper education and the Indian caste system, few of these people ever rise above the stone-cutting profession and lifestyle. Like Nagipur, most Wadari that we met, remain in the same place for their entire lives. He has been laboring in the same stone field for the last 20 years with his two sons, and is generally inebriated. They labor strenuously in the exhausting heat for 8-12 hours every day, and they, as well as the other men women they work with, have resorted to an apathetic lifestyle of alcoholism and gambling. As a result, their children remain uneducated, continuing the cycle of hopelessness and depression throughout generations.
One man, however, was able to overcome these odds, and has chosen another way of life for himself and his family. Sandeep* grew up as the son of stone-breakers in the slums of Pune, but in his late teens he had a conversation that changed his life. He heard a man preaching about the god of the Bible on the streets, and went to him to argue his case. After minutes of debating, Sandeep insulted the man, and walked away. Feeling confident, he walked home reflecting on the way he had challenged what the preacher had said. But the words he had said kept nagging in Sandeep's mind. He couldn't help but think that such things were actually being preached about in the streets, and so, he decided to found out about this "living God" that the man had preached about so that he could counteract such nonsense. In his research, Sandeep became intrigued by the Christian beliefs and adopted them himself. He gave up Hindu idol worship, and devoted his life to finding out more about God and the love and hope offered in this walk of faith. Today, Sandeep is happily married to a woman of a higher caste, and is the father of two beautiful daughters, who join him in spreading the hope they find in their shared beliefs. His background enables him to empathize with the Wadari people, and he has created and recored inspirational songs in their own language. The difficulties of this task are great as there is no written text for the dialect, and there is no word to translate "love".
Hearing songs in their mother tongue has caught the attention of many Wadari, and one such woman has dedicated her life to God and has walked away from her Hindu background. With God's grace she has given up her addiction to alcohol, and shares her testimony as a gateway of hope to other Wadari women.
Some of the women we met sell fish in the local markets because of physical problems that disables them from heavier labor. In the cities, however, most Wadari work as construction laborers, building residential and commercial buildings, and repairing roads. In rural areas they sit in the earth and pound boulders into smaller stones.
In India, it is the Wadari people who make the roads, but first they start with earth. It's not far from modern technology that people are literally living as in ancient times, and not only that, but they are defined by it. They are the "stone-breakers", the foundation of modernism, and though they are rejected by their society, there is hope for the Wadari people.
*name has been changed to protect identity
So, that is one of the stories I have written, and some of the people that we have met. I am really enjoying it here in India, and am currently in Kolkata, but am leaving tomorrow for Bangladesh! We have done some volunteer work here in the last two weeks, working at the Mother Teresa houses for a few days, and doing photography work around the city for our book project.
Blessings to each of you in our Saviour Jesus Christ!