In 2012, a team of 9 adults and two children began working in the National Capital Region of India. The team worked in the areas of healthcare, children’s education, and biblical education for adults and youth. Impacted by India’s immense need and the flourishing of new Indian friendships, this team of 9 is actively training to bring betterment to all they experienced. (Left to right: Rebekah Davis, Laura Voight, Nick Moore, Rosemary Sherrod, Taylor Maute, Heather Maute, Nick Sherrod, Leah (Thress) Sherrod, Kelly Jobe.)
In one of Uttar Pradesh’s poorest communities, Chelsea Carver uses a mirror to teach the local children that they are the ones who are valuable to God, not animals, trees, or buildings (as is often thought in India).
India has the largest illiterate population in the world. Though compulsory education is a legal requirement for all Indian children, an Indian girl is still 20% more likely to be illiterate than her male counterpart.
Kristen Streeter interacts with children from one of Uttar Pradesh’s poorest rural communities. The children are attending a private school that was founded on the basis of offering the highest academic curriculum and a 100% teacher attendance.
Even though school enrollment is high in India’s rural areas, it is estimated that 60% of children (ages 6 through 14) still cannot read after three years of public education. Although attendance is compulsory, the quality of education continues to suffer as a result of teacher absenteeism, lack of incentives and low standards.
Gregg Garner (front, second from right) leads a group of young people to the city of Varanasi, India. It is here that they see the striking contrast between the highly-touted tourist spots and the temples where thousands of India’s widows take up permanent residence. Widows, often considered to be cursed, earn a living in Varanasi by begging and reciting prayers in Hindu temples for meager donations.
12.6 million children in India are working on a full or part-time basis. In addition to restricting their access to education, many of these children work in situations that are hazardous to their health and development.
Chelsea Carver, a trained birth attendant, assesses the condition of a mother who had recently given birth by herself on the platform of a crowded train station. This mother's situation is sadly too common in India. It is estimated that half of all women giving birth in India do so without the assistance of a trained health professional.
Jeff Sherrod pauses to speak with a pedal rickshaw driver. This elderly man is one of the two million pedal rickshaw drivers that populate Indian cities underneath it’s blistering heat. Many of these drivers have migrated to cities in search of better economic opportunities than what is available in their family villages. However, the occupation they most often find, the pedal rickshaw, only provides 150-300 rupees a day ($5-7 USD).
Millions of tourists visit the Ganges River, Hinduism’s most sacred river, annually. It is common to see the decomposing remains of humans and animals deposited into the river in religious ritual. Because of events such as this, water pollution is a major issues in India that affect more than just the beauty of scenery. Recent estimates have suggested that 33% of India’s deaths and 80% of it’s deaths are the product water-borne diseases.
60% of Indians depend, whether directly or indirectly, upon agriculture for their sustenance. Due to the unpredictability of monsoons, lack of adequate infrastructure, and a host of other factors; farmer suicide has reached an epidemic level in India. Over 17,000 farmers every year take their own lives.
Though home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world, over 70% of Indians still live in villages. The majority of these villages are composed almost entirely of women and children. Husbands, fathers and sons are being drawn to the city through the promises of economic growth that many of them will never experience.
Gregg Garner (right) conducts a bible study while traveling India’s rail system from Delhi to a village. Most Indians travel by train and one of the least expensive options is the sleeper class. The sleeper cars have no air-conditioning and they are often overcrowded--entire families will squeeze into a single berth and, at night, even the floor becomes sleeping accommodations for men, women and children who are not able to afford a seat on the train.
The moment when God speaks to a person regarding a way to serve others may be permanently embedded in one’s memory but is rarely caught on film. For Chelsea Carver, when she cradled a 5-day old baby in a crowded train station, she knew the work God was calling her to do. Today, Chelsea has nearly completed the Childbirth Education program at the Institute of G. O. D. Intl. with an emphasis in becoming a childbirth educator and doula.
Rebekah Davis participates in soccer drills at a free soccer camp for local youth in Calcutta. Sports are a valuable medium for teaching the value of cooperation and unselfishness, while providing a positive outlet for their energy and an opportunity to build relationships.
Hannah Duffy impresses a group of women with her familiarity and excitement for Indian dance. Indian culture is vibrant and unique in nearly every aspect. Our attempts to learn and demonstrate our knowledge of culture is practical way to demonstrate our desire to learn about them.
We began working with Yona and Usha Babu in 2004. Since then, they have served as an invaluable guide into Indian life and culture for us, making what can seem so different, more easily understood.
With 70% of the Indian population still dwelling in villages, agricultural labor is the most common work available. With the recent cultural shift of men migrating to the city for work, the brunt of labor is left to the women. This demanding labor begins when the sun comes up until it sets, pulling many mothers away from their children throughout the planting, growing and harvest season.
At a time when Uttar Pradesh’s populace needed government funding to improve the sectors of health, roads, education, power, water and sanitation, their chief minister, Mayawati, built a 150 acre complex of memorials, parks, and statues. Pictured is one of over 5,600 workers employed to maintain Mayawati’s parks.
As cities sprawl and land developers either take ancestral lands or deplete them of natural resources, India’s rural poor migrate to the city in search of work. But there are scarce employment opportunities for the myriad of India’s poor searching for a means of living. Evidence of the lack of opportunity is the lack of diverse enterprise. Common on India’s crowded streets is the sight of too many people, selling the same product or service, competing for the same market. For street vendors, the market is saturated and consequently, the income is meager--most Indians make less than $2.00 a day.
The children living in this orphanage in the National Capital Region come from various cities and rural communities, and even from different states. There are several different languages that are spoken by the children and diverse cultural distinctions such as food and dress. As with all children, cultural barriers give way to play time. Kelly Jobe spent time participating in teaching, song, dance, and playtime with the children.
Though English is prominent in the commercial and political sectors of India, nearly 85% of Indians do not speak English. Thus, language learning, specifically of Hindi, India’s national language, is a prerequisite for our work in India, specifically to serve it’s poor and marginalized populations.
As a matter of survival, poor families often choose to keep girls at home to care for younger siblings or to work in family enterprises instead of sending them to school. As a result, many of India’s poor women have been denied the opportunity for education. On this day, a group of women gathered together to participate in a bible study conducted by Rosemary Sherrod.
It has been estimated that in the National Capital Region 50,000 children live on the streets. Most street children come from India’s poorest communities and migrate to urban centers in order to earn enough money to survive. Although this orphanage offers a refuge for a number of children, the streets India’s cities are filled with thousands of children who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The Ganges River that runs through Varanasi is considered to be the holiest place in India. It is where millions of Hindus make pilgrimages in order to receive blessings and be cleansed. This cultural tradition of bathing in the Ganges has been in place for thousands of years.
WHO cites that the greatest need in addressing maternal health lies in educating and equipping midwives in the third world. Delhi is home to a swelling refugee population that consists of many young families. Deb Nava spent time training volunteer staff at a local Burmese clinic by demonstrating how to assess basic maternal health. Over 200 babies had been delivered in this clinic since 2008 with the help of these young women.
The India Regional Team had the privilege of having 11 months of continuous presence in India beginning in December 2012 through November 2013. The skill set capacity of this group ranged from maternal health care to literacy and education, as well as comparative religions and woodworking. Pictured, left to right: Tristan Swang, Nicholas Moore, Stephen Carver, Chelsea Carver (baby Rahomi) Jenny Sherrod, Jeff Sherrod, Maria Pratt, Rachel Nowlin, Deb Nava (baby Enoch), and Josh Nava.
The city is full of migrant families looking for available work. In most cases the mother and father will work together on a construction site with their children in tow. The environment is dangerous but the children do not attend school because their time in the city is temporary. Rachel Nowlin, a teacher at GOD Elementary School, made short lessons and playtime a part of the children's day in order to give them a safe and healthy environment while their parents worked.
65 million Indians live in slums, a 25% increase from 2001. The majority of these families live in environments where the infrastructure necessary to support healthy living is an afterthought. This leaves their children with little space to safely play.
Addressing women's health is one of the greatest health care needs facing rural India. While the majority of men have left the countryside for work in the city, the farm labor becomes the woman's responsibility. This physical demands of this labor are taxing on a woman's body. Here, Rob Munoz and Leah Sherrod attend to the wounds of a woman whose life is greatly affected by the recent economics of her village.
India is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world as can be seen in this photo of Sikh, Hindu and Muslim boys. Home to the largest portion of Hindus and Sikhs in the world, India is also home to the third largest population of Muslims. This diversity, though rich with possibility for good, has been the source of some of India’s most brutal conflicts.
Robert Munoz, Instructor at the Institute for G.O.D. and G.O.D. Elementary school, discusses the necessity of a radical perspective shift, that can be likened to a new birth, as a prerequisite to participate in Jesus’ Kingdom.
Many public health care facilities in rural India lack the space, personnel and time to accommodate the immense health needs in the villages. Rob Munoz teaches Deb Nava how to assess health care needs in a private and dignifying manner by taking the time to address the health needs of this family.
Devadas and Nita have been our friends since our initial interactions with them in 2006 and have served as a reminder of the Lord's ability to make things new. Prior to hearing the revelation of the word of God, Devadas was driven to alcoholism because the perceived inevitability of his poverty. Now, after hearing about the love of God and seeing that love demonstrated, he actively participates in the betterment of his community through preaching the same word of God that transformed him.
Thousands of school aged children throughout the city are still not enrolled in formal education due to a lack of resources or transportation. A local church began to provide education to children in a small nearby community in the slums. Nick Moore was able to provide health care assessments and care for these families who would otherwise not receive any at all due to social status.
In 2006, 20 SLAM summer interns visited India for the first time. For many of the interns, it was their first experience in the third world. The impact of moments like this one, our final goodbye to friends we made at school in one of Uttar Pradesh’s poorest villages, have compelled thirteen of these interns to commit themselves to a life of service to the poor.