Our team (Scott & Rosemary Sherrod, Rachel Nowlin, and Grant Dailey) is working for three weeks furthering our efforts in maternal health, education, and alternative energy in India. (For trip goals, read here.) Before setting out to research and discover more about solutions to the immense needs in India, however, we spent time following up with our friends in Delhi. Our first meeting was with Manohar and Sneha, an Indian couple that has developed meaningful friendships with several team members. The couple shared briefly from their recent experience. Sneha, who teaches for a civil engineering program, commented on the rising popularity of “sustainable building” in commercial construction projects. Her husband Manohar added that, while these projects strive to bring "green" concepts into engineering, they come at the cost of human life. Workers are required to climb scaffolding upwards of 20-30 stories, unsecured, for only a few dollars a day. He claimed that these projects often cost the lives of more than half dozen workers, a statistic the public is unaware of due to the influence these multi-national corporations have on the media.
Following lunch with Manohar and Sneha, we spent a few hours catching up with another Gurgaon friend, Shilpi. Around 30 weeks pregnant with their third child, Shilpi spent the afternoon talking excitedly about birth and women’s health in India. She is passionate for a more just approach to childbirth, citing the frequency with which Indian women are forced into having early C-sections, aided by IV drips of drugs to expedite the birth process. Our team was able to bless and encourage Shilpi by sharing with her helpful guides and curriculum for childbirth, as well as a published volume of birth stories from the women of the G.O.D. Int'l community, a valuable testimony to the need for humanizing birth practices around the world. Before leaving she shared the story of a young, married woman who was pregnant by rape. Out of shame she carried the child in secrecy, delivering the baby on the street and abandoning it to a woman in the area. The child was later adopted by a couple who is now addressing serious medical issues stemming from the poor development of the child. For Shipli, this case is not simply an issue of child neglect; it is an example of the systematic mistreatment of women in India, who lack security, health, and any recourse for advocacy and protection in cases of rape and abuse.
For our team, stories like these serve as powerful reminders of the issues we must address and the people we must be concerned for in our service to God. Alternative methods to building and bringing power to people are not vain exercises in ‘green’ trends, nor is our desire to see women find equitable treatment in the birth process fueled by the self-satisfaction of doing something ‘natural’. Rather, we share the same concern for the poor and marginalized that the Apostle Paul does, believing that God’s wisdom is manifest in the empowerment of the least: “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But…God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:26-29)."