India (MNN) – India’s poverty is grabbing headlines. A New York Times report says India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accused of suppressing a report that potentially showed India’s poverty rate reaching its highest level in decades during 2017. Another report by the Hindu Business Line states that 30.3 percent of extremely poor children live in India, making India only second to sub-Sahara Africa regarding extreme child poverty.
India’s struggle with poverty has not escaped World Mission, who works with partners on the ground.
“There is growth within the economy over all of India, but a lot of these developing countries it’s [a] very small sliver of the people at the top that are benefiting from it. Those that are in the poverty levels, actually those levels continue to swell and increase. What you see, the manifestation of that on the streets of India is you see a tremendous amount of homeless people. And again, it’s the women and the children that are suffering the most,” CEO of World Mission Greg Kelley says.
“The last time we were there we were in the largest dump in Delhi, and hundreds and hundreds of people, that’s their home. So, they’re living in the dump and it just so breaks your heart to see these people living in such impoverished conditions throughout that great amazing country.”
Challenges for Economy
Kelley says some of the decisions made by Modi have complicated the economy. For example, in late 2016 India withdrew the 1,000 and 500 rupee notes to be replaced with new 2,000 and 500 rupee notes. People in India could exchange up to 4,500 old rupees for the new notes.
“That is just one simple example…of something that was incredibly disruptive to the economy that made things very difficult. At the end of the day when these economic decisions get made, it’s really the women, the children, those that are impoverished, which the majority of India is, that suffer the most from a consequences standpoint,” Kelley says.
World Mission in India
World Mission partners aim to serve the most vulnerable areas of India. One of these areas is the beforementioned dumps in Delhi, among other major communities. Kelley says some of the people living in these dumps are content simply because they know no other lifestyle or standard of living. Still, these are the “steepest levels of poverty that you could imagine.”
However, dumps aren’t the only places impacted by extreme poverty. Rural areas are also impacted by economic difficulties, along with communities facing illnesses like leprosy.
“World Mission has a real active ministry in the leprosy colonies, and we’re trying to minister to these people, encourage them in these three settings. We’re doing practical things like bringing clean water and World Mission drills a lot of clean water wells. We also provide water filters for people who do have access because so many children, thousands of children die every day in India due to the dirty water and bacteria infected water. So, on a practical level, we’re helping them with clean water projects,” Kelley says.
On a spiritual note, World Mission distributes its solar-powered audio Bibles, called Treasures, to share the hope of Christ. Kelley says the majority of India’s population are oral learners. Many of the people World Mission encounters are oral learners. For this reason, World Mission’s Treasures have “been an amazing tool to encourage people with the Gospel”.
Want to help?
It takes about $30 to send a water filter to a family in India. These filters last for over 2 years for an entire family. It takes about $40 to send a Treasure to India in one of the 750 languages spoken in the country. This year, World Mission is hoping to deliver 5,000 Treasures to India.
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“I think the underlying root that we need to remember, not only is the economy challenged in India, but it’s also the most populated Hindu country in the world. There [are] more unreached people in India than any country in the world,” Kelley says.
Let’s reach India together.