New Hope School sits at the end of a rocky lane filled with lean-to homes and men sitting outside gambling. In the mornings as we arrive there are children with no clothes and goats with dresses. There are moms washing their breakfast dishes and lots of people outside brushing their teeth and bathing in the communal water pumps.
The windows at New Hope stay open and provide much of the light we use for school. Children that are not in school stare into the windows and watch everything that we do. Inside the school are happy children who are eager to learn and, it would seem, have a hope for escaping the dark life of the slum.
Today one of those children at the window was a fourteen year old young man that we recognized as one of our favorite kids at New Hope – but today he was on the outside. He no longer looked like the freshly bathed smiling young child that used to come to school. He looked hard and like a boy that had grown up too fast – there was no innocent grin on his face anymore.
The reality of life in the slums – he lives with a grandmother who forced him to quit school – after much abuse – so that he could work in a local hotel cleaning up fish parts for the restaurant to make about 100 rupees a day (that’s less than $2). I remember his dream of wanting to be a police officer – I asked him if he still had that dream. He said yes – but the reality is that he may never be able to come back to school.
Reality is hard and discouraging. We learned of a precious little girl that we had high hopes for a few years ago. She had been sold by her parents to work in someone’s home. Mita, the teacher, begged the parents to let her come back to school – they listened and let her come back. But today, two years later we found out that she is now 12 years old and married to a man in his 30’s. The reality of life in the slums….
I asked Mita about the darkness of this reality and how she deals with the discouragement. She said, “I look at <her> face” referring to a 16 year old girl that she and her family rescued from a life of sexual abuse by her father. She lives with them and is thriving. Mita said, “If I can just save one out of one hundred it is worth continuing.”
This is reality but God is still in the business of rescuing. Psalm 12:5 says, “Into the hovels of the poor, into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: “I’ve had enough; I’m on my way to heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.” Heroes like Mita are following God’s call to be His hands, feet and heart to these people.