Pandita Ramabai - Dynamic Person of Faith
Billy Graham museum has a banner recognizing Pandita Ramabai as an integral and influential missions leader. Hers is the only banner of a woman! She was truly a dynamic person of faith.
One Aussie’s reflections on the experience of girls and women with special needs in India
The following are some updates and reflections from a long-term Australian volunteer serving at Mukti as the Principal of the Special Needs School. Her news about the School, the challenges and achievements of the girls/ and women she works with, and her reflections on the experience of those living with physical and intellectual disabilities in India are encouraging and inspiring…
On Monday 25th of January the Special School celebrated its 3rd
birthday with a morning program where the Mukti staff joined us for
devotions and morning tea. This was followed by a time of games and lots
of laughter as we celebrated God’s faithfulness as we (school staff and
students) viewed a slideshow of some of the highlights of the last
year. We could clearly see many of the changes that had taken place and
how richly God has blessed us. Amidst some of the frustrations such as
getting the boundary fence erected and then completed properly, which
took a whole year, it has all been worth it when you see the joy that
the students now have in being able to go outside into a safe area that
even has some playground equipment thanks to some NSW donors. The timing
for the equipment was perfect with the students being able to use it
daily over the cooler months of November through February. In this photo
Surekha is helping Vaishnavi, who is blind, down the slide.
Traditional and cultural dancing is one
of the favourite music activities of many of the students (and girls and
women at Mukti in general) and
fourteen girls happily represented our school with “The Fishermen’s
Dance” at the combined schools Republic Day event held at the English
Medium School on the 26th of January.
During this year one of the aims of our
Special Needs School is to include a Vocational Skills Program that
includes a broader range of activities to encourage the older students
to learn skills that will broaden and deepen their life skills in areas
of interest. The Lord has gifted each of us with different abilities and
we have various likes and dislikes. Hemangi (pictured) has enjoyed
looking after the self-seeded tomato plants which have come up as a
result of the food scraps given to the chickens. She has made sure that
they are well watered and is thrilled with the number of tomatoes on the
few plants that are now turning red. The girls are excited about using
them in their cooking. This has given her much pleasure.
students are learning skills in each of four groups: cooking,
gardening, sewing and paper bag /card making projects. Learning life
skills is an important part of the program. Many are finding that some
of the language and Maths skills that they have been working on have a
useful purpose. Cooking is very popular with the students. Not only
are many able to make and serve chai at morning tea time they have
learned how to cook some other popular Indian foods as well. In time
this vocational skills project will include Indian donuts and other
snacks that can be sold in Lydia’s store. This little shop is a micro
loan project which is being operated by one of the Mukti residents.
Many of the older girls and young women have had a new incentive to learn more Life Skill Language and Maths since four 7th and 8th
standard girls joined us from the Marathi Medium School and came to us
for some extensive tutoring. These girls were struggling in their
classes as they are at early primary levels in their learning not lower
secondary. In India students can’t be retained if they don’t pass until
they get to 8th standard (year 8). These girls have faced
significant difficulties and some trauma that has caused major set backs
in their studies. None of the girls could read and they have very
limited idea about Maths when they came to us. Teachers in mainstreams
schools here have classes of over 50 students so it is no wonder that
many fall behind, especially if they have avoidance strategies like
these girls have. Fortunately they are now in small classes where they
can get some tuition. Please pray for them as they prepare for their end
of year exams in early April as a requirement set by the government on
schools for all enrollees.
Having these four
girls with us for at least this semester (and hopefully the next) our
more capable group have been learning more of the basics. For me this
has meant doing a lot of showing the new staff how to teach students how
to read and write. I had the added challenge of not knowing much
Marathi, the local language, as well as the different script used and
how this writing system works. There was and still is much learning to
be done but this has helped my Marathi language learning. Most of the
girls could write the individual letters but the next step of making
consonants was confusing to them. Myna and Soni have been so excited
about reading and writing and have made so much progress in their
reading. These two girls along with Neelam and Ruth study at home. I’ve
set the group the goal of learning all the syllable combinations by the
end of the school year in early April as well as some basic words and
sentences which most will be able to achieve.
Over this last term of ten months here at
Mukti I have appreciated all the more how much status, gender and
castes so deeply affect the people of India and this part of the world
in ways that we would see as so discriminatory and prejudiced. If you’re
widowed, single, divorced, or if your parents have passed away and you
haven’t been “married off” or if you have a disability then how are you
to get a job or somewhere to live if a relative won’t take you in.
People with disabilities are so often seen as being cursed or that they
will inflict a curse on others. Seven of the girls I work with have
lived at Mukti for most of their lives because they are unwanted by
their families and haven’t been visited by them because they have a
disability. Please pray that all of the women in our care here at
Mukti, in each of the many homes will be empowered no matter what their
age, ability or status to reach for their God given potential and to be
encouragers to others around them no matter who they are and what role
they play, whether they be young or old, have a disability or impairment
of any kind or have no such issues to deal with.
RENOWNED INDIAN AUTHOR ARUNDHATI ROY AT MUKTI!
Mukti India’s Mission Director Lorraine writes…
On Friday last week, we had the joy of welcoming Arundhati Roy, one of India’s celebrity authors at Mukti. Arundhati Roy is a great writer and somebody who fights for women’s rights. Her first book was titled A GOD OF SMALL THINGS which became famous internationally.
We could not prepare enough to welcome her as very short notice was given. So it was an ordinary welcome with a hot cup of chai and some biscuits. We chatted about Mukti and our struggles with the highway extension and the rights and privileges of children and women at stake. She dropped a tear or two while she was listening from her heart.
Arundhati was taken around to see some of the Mukti campus even though her time was short. She also made a short visit to the Mission Director’s office and signed the visitor’s book where she made a strong statement that RAMABAI’S LAND SHOULD NOT BE DESECRATED!
The next day she was to receive an award for her commendable work at a big function in Pune and invited us to attend the function. One of our Mukti leaders was called on stage and she handed over her award to Mukti which is worth Rs. 100,000/- along with her personal gift to be used for the welfare of our residents. She also courageously spoke in front of thousands of dignitaries present that the land at Kedgaon belonging to Ramabai should not be used for the highway extension and many people agreed with her statement.
Christmas greetings from Mukti
Christmas greetings from the ladies who are visually challenged at Mukti
Clean Drinking Water
Mukti Australia, in partnership with Mukti New Zealand, is proud to announce the launch of its Clean Water Project.
Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and necessity of life. It is also a pre-condition for empowering disadvantaged children and women, because healthy children and women are better able to participate in educational and vocational training opportunities that offer them a way out of the cycle of poverty. Mukti’s Pune campus is home to over 700 disadvantaged women and children, and the schools educate over 2100 children each year. A water filtration and softening system is needed to ensure that water coming from the taps in campus, homes and schools is clean and free from water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.
In October this year, Australian water specialist and volunteer Iain Johnson will travel to India to work alongside local Mukti staff to install the water system which is expected to provide Mukti with clean water for atleast 50 years. We still need around AUD 12,000 to complete the project.
If you would like to contribute, please visit www.mukti.org.au/donate
One woman’s story of finding hope
Mukti Mission’s Director shares the story of a woman who wanted to die.
I visited the Mission with several friends one day and submitted an application to work as a House-mother. I was with 6 friends and really had no intention of taking a job like this. I did return home and pray about this and left everything up to God. After a few weeks I received an invitation from the superintendent to join the Mission. I decided to join but in the back of my mind I was thinking: “If this does not work out I can always leave.”
Currently I have now passed 17 years of serving the Mission! I made several attempts to leave this job, but God in His mercy, kept me to serve His people. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”
When I joined the Mission I had earned my Masters degree in Social Work, but I learned the practical application to use my education under the guidance of our able leaders. I was given oversight of the Adoption department. Apart from this I was working in the Family Life Department. Gradually after a few months I was also entrusted to be the guardian for the Flower Family “Queen of Night”.
Slowly I started learning the ins and outs of the work I was entrusted to do. I enjoyed doing the work of Adoption. I give my level best to bring smiles among the couples who are desperate to adopt kids and make their family complete. The process requires I make multiple home visits to ensure the child goes to the right family and is given a bright future. By the grace of God we had been able to place many children in good families.
In the special needs section we were blessed with a new school. The candle making project started in this section and the basket making in the blind section is also in full swing. Children enjoy going to their special school and are learning various skills to become self-dependent in their future.
I almost gave up on the idea of getting married after undergoing a major operation which left me with no hope of having children of my own. Moreover I had passed the age the world sets as the standard of getting married. I was hopeless in this area of my life. “Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10. A few years ago, God exceeded my wildest dreams and provided me with a husband! I am married to a man of God who is a Pastor. We are a happy couple serving God in different areas of ministry.