One of the bright spots of our homeschooling week has been “Going to India with Chris” with the Sonlight “Passport to India” program. A wonderfully engaging young pastor named Chris from Washington DC is visiting India for the first time, with a small crew, and is sending back photos, videos and statistics. Startling statistics.
India has been on my heart ever since the United Methodist Women did a geographic study of India and Pakistan. The study was somewhat focused on the religions of India, the unfairness of British rule and the disaster of partition. But along the way we also learned about the Dalits, and the unspeakable way they are treated. About the same time, Christian musicians Caedmon’s Call released a CD entitled “Share the Well) with music from their mission trip to India.
Now, Grace has a wonderful opportunity to learn about India! We watched the first two days of videos on the website www.mypassporttoindia.org and learned a lot.
- We learned that in India there are over 1 Billion people, speaking thousands of languages, worshipping millions of gods.
- We learned that there are 17 toilets for every 1 million people.
- We learned that 1/3 of the people do not have access to clean drinking water.
- India’s slum population has doubled in the last 20 years. Dharavi, where Slumdog Millionaire was shot, is the largest slum in Asia. 1 million people live in one square mile of space. In fact 42 million Indians live in slums.
- Mumbai, the richest city in India, and the second largest city in the world with a significant global presence, has half of the population of 14 million living in slums.
Sounds a little dark doesn’t it? And yet, in the midst of the slums there is a slum church, run by a local Christian woman, where children come for a snack, games, songs, and Bible stories. Chris mentions that in the midst of unbelievable stench and poverty, people were happy, smiling, and excited to hear about Jesus Christ. We spent a lot of time over dinner talking about what we would want to “take with us” if we could only have one set of clothes. If we lived in a dwelling the size of my home office, how would we want to share that space between the four of us. I think Ian plans to move out! What books would we take? We wondered about being happy in those conditions and they wondered why people here in America aren’t so happy. And we wondered why they don’t seem too happy to hear about Jesus. We don’t have answers exactly, but we have a lot of ideas! And a few things that we want to think about some more.