At the time of writing this blog post, we are about 6 hours away from our departure time from Hyderabad, India. It’s hard to believe we have been here for two weeks already. Although we have really enjoyed our time here, we are looking forward to getting home to our children.
While we were here, I spent most of my time working with the Digital Media students on their practicum assignments. Lynn worked with OM India at the schools and with some of the Dalit women, teaching art classes to children and helping the women with their sewing work. The rest of the team, made up of nursing students and instructors, spent their time in the OM clinic and providing basic health education. The medical team will stay and continue with their work until July 9.
Today we visited an OM school in a slum in Hyderabad. While we were there, I talked with the OM Community Development Officer and asked about the effectiveness of the school. He said the school has been operating for 18 years, and they have seen students go on to graduate from university and now have good paying jobs, something that normally does not happen among Dalit people. However, there are over 35,000 people who live in that slum community, and the school can only educate a relatively small amount of the children, so there is still a great need for more schools and more educators.
The CDO thanked us for the work we are doing. Raising awareness is one of the most important tasks in this effort to provide freedom to Dalit people. This conversation gave me confidence that what we are doing at Prairie is really valuable. By training up Christian media professionals who have a heart for the poor and oppressed, we are providing Christian ministries with people to help raise awareness for their cause.
If you are not doing so already, please start following Prairie on Facebook or Twitter, and watch for videos from our visit to India. If you know anyone who might be interested in the Media Program at Prairie, share our videos with them and encourage them to consider enrolling. We would love to send more and more students to work with organizations all over the world to help give a voice to those who have none.
We are halfway done our time in India, and I wish I had more time to update my blog. I’ve been quite busy helping the Digital Media students with filming and photography, as well as editing some videos, which I have been posting online (see below).
Today we spent the day at a village about 3 hours south of Hyderabad. The nursing students spent time teaching the children about health issues such as Malaria, hand washing, and different types of illnesses. They also helped the Operation Mobilization mobile clinic with taking blood pressure as the villagers came to see the OM doctor.
Lynn and a couple others who are with spent time with the children doing some painting, and I was filming and taking photos the entire day. This will be a typical day for the rest of our time here, as we visit different villages each day.
Please pray for good health, as Lynn has not been feeling very well, and a couple other team members have run into minor issues. Overall, most of us are doing quite well and we are so grateful for the opportunity to be here working among the Dalit people.
In 24 hours from the time of writing this post, Lynn and I will be aboard a Boeing 767 heading for Hyderabad with a team of Prairie students and instructors. There are two main goals of this trip: 1) minister to the Dalit people by providing personal health education, and; 2) film the experience in order to help create awareness and to promote the Prairie international practicums.
My role specifically will be to provide instruction and guidance to the Digital Media students, and to capture their experience on film and photos. I will also be doing some filming for some other projects I am working on, which will be announced this summer. Lynn will be working with a Dalit Freedom Network education centre with Dalit women and children.
We owe a huge thank-you to a whole bunch of people for supporting us, particularly our family and our church families, both in Winkler and in Wimborne. We are overwhelmed with how much support has come in. We praise God for those who have partnered with us!
Our trip through Southeast Asia is coming to a close. In a few days we will be back in Canada, with many memories of all the people we met and stories we heard. One of the things that will stick with me is that there is no end to the responsibilities we have as Christians to help the poor and oppressed. The needs are far greater than any of us can imagine.
I hope you enjoy this short highlight video from our time in Cambodia. Keep watching for more videos from this trip, which will be created to help promote Work of Your Hand.
Cambodia is believed to be home to about 1 million Vietnamese people, many of which were born with no citizenship. No citizenship means no ability to find work or attend school beyond grade 5, and no human rights to protect them. Many Vietnamese people are forced to scavenge for recyclable material in order to make enough money to pay for rent and electricity (about $40 per month). Most of the children are malnourished and uneducated because they are required to scavenge to help pay the bills, but still cannot earn enough money to buy quality food. The most devastating thing is that some children are sold into prostitution at as young as 12 years old in order to earn money for their families.
Praise God that there are some who have given themselves to helping these people. In the heart of Siem Reap, there is a new ministry dedicated to showing the Vietnamese children a hope for the future. They attend weekly Sunday School services where they hear the gospel, and the teenagers have opportunities to make money by creating greeting cards and bracelets.
When we return to Canada, we will be bringing with us nearly 400 greeting cards that some of the youth made during our time in Siem Reap. We are hoping that we can sell these cards quickly so that we can create more work for the youth in Cambodia. Let me know if you are interested in buying some cards, or if you would like to get involved in the card making program. Above all, pray for these children, and for those who are working with them.
We spent the last few days in the Xieng Khouang Province of Laos. We visited a village where Batik products are made, and we also toured the Mulberries Silk farm.
This video will show some of the beauty of Laos and a quick snapshot of how some of the products are made. More videos will be coming that show the processes in detail. For now, enjoy this update from Laos!