This week is International Refugee Week. Through my work with ‘Project Help India’ we are committed to respond to the needs of those who are displaced, like the family whose house is shown in the photo. If you have a spare moment, look closely at the images above and below. I took the photo about a year ago in the city of Haridwar, near to where I spoke to a roadside gathering of children and parents as part of ‘Operation Freedom’, a police led community program which aimed to stop kids from street begging and to get them enrolled into schools. I was embarrassed to take this photo but I was captured by what I was looking at. Heart broken and crying, I just stood there, imagining the life and circumstances of this incredibly poor family.
…But look at the photos. You are looking at a home made out of rubbish, located in a car park, 100 metres from the "mighty" Ganges River. There would be at least 6 people living here. Imagine if this was your home, what hopes would you have for your future? If you were the father, what dignity and sense of worth would you have as you thought about your ability to provide and care for your family. If you were the mother, what confidence and what fears would you have for the health, education and safety of your children? These thoughts, feelings and fears are the reality for countless millions of refugees today.
Statistics tell us that there are approximately 200 000 refugees in India. However, if you stretch the definition, there are countless millions upon millions, who, impacted by the vicious cycle of poverty, are displaced - forced to move from their home to relocate from rural villages to look for work in the city. Many of these people, including children, live on the streets or in slums with little or no access to adequate sanitation, health care, education and advocacy. Because of the caste system in India, these people are ostracised and targeted. At ‘Project Help India’ we work alongside these most vulnerable people, providing schooling, nutritious meals, health check-ups, counselling and delivering short courses to up-skill young people for employment. Our parenting awareness programs teach mothers and fathers about the very real dangers of their children being exploited and trafficked. These most vulnerable children often disappear or have been sold by their parents who believed a lie that their child would have a better future rather than endure their present circumstances. It’s all incredibly sad…but with your help we are making a difference, and bringing love, dignity and purpose to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.
During COVID-19 the numbers of people in India who are currently testing positive, is rapidly on the rise. We have grave concerns for the well-being and safety of many, and we are preparing for an influx of more displaced people over the coming months.
This ‘World Refugee Day’ we can have awareness, empathy, compassion and make a difference. Your donation to ‘Project Help India’ will be used to help some beautiful families who are displaced, and who live a life that is so terribly different from all of our Western comforts. With the Australian tax-year finishing in just 10 days, your donation is tax deductible…it’s a perfect time to help us to help others. Go to www.projecthelpindia.co