Hopelessness and tension permeated the already polluted air. Slum homes lined the open field. Families struggling to provide, fathers addicted to the bottle and helpless widows lived here together, huddled under their makeshift homes. For them, the future looked bleak. But hope walked into the slums as women attired in white and gray saris stepped inside the miserable slum alleyways. Armed with pencils, children’s songs and humble hearts, they were ready to make a powerful change.
Compassion in the Slum
Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported Sisters of Compassion Bakula, Odathi, Raji and Bimala, specialized women missionaries, gave their lives to serve Jesus and be His hands and feet to the poor and needy. They knew people had a great need, yet the condition of these living in the slum was worse than they anticipated. Some had been shoved off the land they lived on. Many lived hand to mouth, simply trying to survive one more day.
“Many of their lives are hardened by the trials of life,” the Sisters of Compassion shared. “Day by day, they struggle for basic amenities like food and water. Whenever the parents go for any work for their survival, the older children take responsibility for the younger ones and miss out schooling. Moreover, every woman who lives in this slum has a different story to share. Many of their husbands left them alone with their kids, and many are widows. As a result, the women have to work as maid servants in other people’s houses to earn money for their living. Some of their husbands are drunkards and do not give money for the survival of the families.”
There were many widows who were helpless and often too sick to provide for themselves. So the women missionaries helped the elderly widows clean their homes or cook meals or fetch water from the nearby well. Bakula, Odathi, Raji and Bimala did what they could to display the love and concern of Christ.
“Our own grown-up children are not taking care of us,” one widow tearfully confessed. “But you came from a very far place to here and help us in times of our struggles and sickness.”
Through the prayers and encouragement of the Sisters’ of Compassion these precious widows are receiving joy and hope in the midst of their troubled lives.
The Liberation of Literacy
The team of women missionaries also set up literacy classes for the woman of the slum, as many of them had never learned to read and write.
“I never had the opportunity to go to school,” Rakti, a 51-year-old widow, said. “I have two daughters and a son. I know how to stitch women’s clothes, which is the only source of our income. But when people come with clothes, it was my daughter who takes the measurements and writes it down in a notebook. Many times, my daughter taught me how to write it, but I could not. Now I have a hope and desire to learn and to do my work without anyone’s help.”
Many women make these literacy classes taught by the Sisters of Compassion a priority and are attending them with excitement and eagerness, even after a long day at their manual labor jobs.
“It was our greatest desire to write at least our names,” some of the ladies from the slum testified. “Nowadays, because of the hard work of these sisters, we have learned to write our names correctly.”
Sunday School and Healing
Seeing how poverty and hardship was impacting the children, the women started teaching Sunday school lessons to the children.
One of the Sunday School children named Pia is 7 years old. At Sunday school, she learned how to pray. Now, whenever anyone in the slum or within her family is sick, she prays and asks Jesus to heal them. Every Sunday, little Pia shares her testimony in church. As a result of her life and testimony, some of the other children’s parents started attending the Sunday worship.
The Love and Hope of Jesus Changes Everything
As these sisters dispense love and peace upon the community, whether it is by teaching literacy classes or ministering to lonely widows and children, God’s eternal love is being displayed.