India (MNN) — Do you know how hard it is for a Dalit girl to succeed?
First, there's the apartheid factor. Although India's caste system was officially abolished in 1949, it still plays an active role in today's Indian society. Dalits are India's social lepers; they're sometimes called the "Untouchables."
The absolute worst jobs–picking up trash, transporting dead people, cleaning the sewers–are reserved for Dalits. At 280 million people, they make up a fourth of India's total population. Despite constitutional protection, Dalits remain severely oppressed.
Second, there's the uphill battle of gender discrimination. Being a Dalit brings them contempt, while being a girl makes them worthless.
In India, women are generally held to be "second-class." The disregard for India's women was brought to international light following a severe gang rape in December.
Among the Dalits, 95% of women are illiterate. Nearly half are child brides, meaning they get married under the age of 18.
And yet, says Gospel for Asia, two Dalit sisters beat the odds.
Helped by GFA's Bridge of Hope program, they managed to buy their family a new home. Prema and Neha spent four years picking up extra jobs and saving their earnings to purchase a three-room, mud-baked house with an indoor bathroom.
"We achieved this because of the care and motivation from our Bridge of Hope staff," the girls told GFA. "Otherwise, we would not have made it."
This purchase might not seem like a big deal, until the girls' circumstances come into focus.
Prema and Neha were two of seven kids born into a Dalit family. Their mom and dad were garbage collectors and epitomize most Dalit parents: dad was a drunkard, while mom couldn't read.
To buy food, the family of nine rummaged daily through trash to find anything they could sell. They shared a 6×8 foot hut and used a nearby railroad track as a bathroom.
GFA workers found Prema and Neha in this squalor and invited them to attend the local Bridge of Hope center. Here, the sisters learned about Christ and experienced His love. They were told by staff that all people are equal and were encouraged to chase their dreams.
By working extra hours after school and taking jobs as field laborers during school holidays, Prema and Neha were able to save enough money to purchase a home. Because of the GFA staff's positive influence on their lives, the girls want to become teachers in the future.
Pray that more Dalits would find power through Christ's love.
You can have a similar influence on a Dalit child's life through a Bridge of Hope sponsorship. Click here to learn more.