Continuing to Learn: 6 Month Study Abroad in India

In  early December, 2012 Nick Moore and Nick Sherrod departed for a six month study abroad trip to India.  All of our regional team members (future missionaries with our organization) are required to undergo a series of trips to their respective regions, each one growing in intensity and purpose.  After 2 immersion trips of 5-7 weeks in the country, a 3-6 month semester abroad is expected.  This will be followed by a 6-9 month occupational development term and a 1-year project implementation term, all prior to deployment.  These trips are not the only place where training happens, as our Institute offers extensive biblical and missiological education, occupational focuses, and language study.  Nick and Nick (“the Nick team,” as we call them) are committed to serving the people of India in the future.  They are utilizing their study abroad term to learn more about India’s people, language, and culture, as well as explore in what ways they can be of benefit through their specific occupational focuses and personalities.  Below, Nick Sherrod writes about their everyday experiences.

Understanding the complex culture of India takes time, and though we have visited India before, our lessons are far from complete.  The gap between the rural population and the exploding metropolises have created a vast divide among the people, each with their own set of cultural standards and religious practices--something we’ve been able to witness firsthand.

We currently live in a city about 20 miles outside of Delhi.  Only 15 years ago, this area was primarily farmland, the region consisting only of small villages.  Due to state law changes this land became targeted by large corporations setting up what are called Business Processing Outsourcing (BPOs), otherwise known as “call centers.”  These BPOs created something equivalent to the California Gold Rush.  Hundreds of thousands flooded to this area looking for opportunities to find good paying jobs, thus creating a seemingly overnight demand for expensive high rises, trendy malls, and foreign cars.  While all of this infrastructure looks good on the surface, it has created an incredible disparity between those attaining wealth and the service personnel that have migrated from surrounding areas, including economically depressed areas like Nepal.  The new wealthy class has created a need for people to serve them in jobs like housegirls, cooks, gardeners, drivers, and more.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Nick and I go about 15 miles outside of town to a village to work in a local hospital and school.  The woman who runs the hospital has been a wealth of information for us concerning village life and Indian history.  She and her husband started the hospital in the early 80s, and have been serving the rural poor ever since.  We have been organizing a health survey that we are giving to the surrounding community to assess the prevalent needs according to the people themselves.

Currently the hospital specializes in cataract surgeries, performing around 500 a year.  Nick Moore has had the opportunity to work alongside doctors and observe multiple cataract surgeries.  According to the World Bank, in the early 1990s, it was estimated that more than a third of the world’s total blind population of 35 million lived in India, reflecting both the country’s large population and the higher-than-average prevalence of cataract blindness (80 percent in India, compared to 50 percent worldwide).  India also reported an earlier onset age of cataracts (younger than 60 years) and a high prevalence of cataracts among women due to a lack of healthcare. ("IDA - India: Cataract Blindness Control Project." World Bank Group) 

The hospital also started a school for the village kids.  The school currently enrolls about 130 kids, and employs 8 teachers.  I am teaching art and music at the school. They love learning how to play guitar, as well as have a creative outlet for expression and even practical projects.

We ask for your prayers for our time representing G.O.D. Int’l in India.  We are so thankful for the opportunities that God has provided and trust that he will allow this experience to mold and shape us into better servants of him, to the Indian people, especially as we grow to identify the root issues and concerns they have through our time here with them.

Written by Nick Sherrod