From the Banchara communities in rural India, the World Help team and I traveled to the Tejaji Nagar slum in Indore. Tejaji is a 25-year-old tattered tent city, and “tent” may be too generous of a description. The community is literally constructed with torn tarps held up by sticks.
These people are considered the lowest in India’s archaic caste system. No one, I mean no one, seems to care whether they live or die.
But we know otherwise. God sees this impoverished community and He has loved them from the beginning. And now, He’s using World Help and its partners to be His tangible hands and feet in Tejaji Nagar.
A few years ago, a World Help supporter named Cristina raised the funds to dig a well in Tejaji. This fresh source of water was the first of its kind here, and from it, everything started to change.
Beforehand, the villagers had no choice but to collect water from a contaminated water source, which wasn’t even remotely close to the community. They have suffered in so many ways without access to clean water. I saw a young boy whose leg was permanently maimed from being hit on a busy highway while bringing home water. A man was killed on his way to gather water, leaving behind a wife and five small children.
The lack of clean water writes tragic stories around the world. And Tejaji’s was no different. That’s why we think clean water is the starting point for combatting physical, mental, and spiritual poverty.
First, it transforms physical health. Our partners noticed an almost immediate difference in the village. Hygiene improved and sickness decreased dramatically.
Second, it helps to restore dignity. People from surrounding communities are now coming to Tejaji to collect the pure water. Before, they wouldn’t even come near the village. I saw how proud the Tejaji families were of their well . . . how important they felt that someone would care enough about them to make such an investment.
But most important, this clean water has opened the doors for us to share the love of Christ. The people of Tejaji have come to love and trust our World Help partners, which has built a strong foundation for our work. And because of this, just this past Christmas, we were able to hold a special program in this community—sharing the Gospel for the very first time.
In addition to the clean-water well, we’ve been able to launch a Child Sponsorship Program that funds the education of every child here. None of Tejaji’s children had ever attended school before this.
The morning we arrived at the slum, we saw 130 children in school uniforms and carrying the backpacks World Help had provided through our Back-to-School campaign. Their smiles nearly broke my heart! They were so proud to be going to school—a confidence that will be critical as they mature within a crippling social infrastructure.
Now that these fundamental needs are being met, our next community project is to build bathrooms and sewage systems throughout the slum, which will make way for improved hygiene and sanitation.
Little by little, the chains of desperation and poverty are falling from Tejaji. Our partner said reminded me of Isaiah 58:10:
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness.
“This is our calling; this is our goal, to bring hope and light in the darkness,” our partner said. But this can’t happen immediately; it takes time and slowly light comes. Hope builds.”
That’s why we can move forward in faith, even when we feel like we’re starting at zero. God takes even our little and invests it in the process of transformation. I certainly saw this process underway in Tejaji.
I pray these stories remind you that we can join God’s work anywhere, anytime. He can use you to build hope for communities like the Tejaji slum . . . to bring light in the darkness. All you need to do is say “Yes.”