A Message from the Board President
Updated: May 7, 2020
India is a country of extremes with more that three times the population of the United States in one third of the area. A country that is 80% Hindu, 15% Muslim, and 2% Christian. A country whose population is stratified in to socio-economic castes, where the poor almost never can escape their poverty. A country that is home to some of the best high tech businesses is also home to some of the lowest slums. A country whose high tech economic boom has had little impact on literacy, poverty, social services and infrastructure. A country scorched by the sun in the summer months and mosquito infested following the monsoons.
My first trip to India was in 2006 for the dedication of Abiding Hope church in Nellore. Construction was not yet complete when we arrived and I had the opportunity to interact with some of the workers, most of whom spoke no English. I learned that most of these workers, both male and female, were lower caste and laboring for between one and two dollars a day. Almost all were Hindu, but still were laboring to build a Christian church.
During these final preparations for the dedication of the church, Titus shared with me a dream. A dream where Christians would have access to a church building for worship; a dream where this minority would be able to reach out and show God's love to the poor without regard to faith or caste; a dream where poor school children would receive help with their lessons; a dream where disenfranchised women could learn a trade and help support their families; a dream where the hungry would be fed and naked given clothes.
Over the last 14 years I have seen these dreams become a reality. Through the generous gifts provided by Abiding Hope church in Littleton, Colorado, this single point of light has expanded out from Nellore into ten towns and villages in the surrounding area. Each of these satellite churches support a small community of Christians, who in turn support their local communities. This mission has succeeded to such an extent that it is beyond the capability of the Abiding Hope, Littleton community to support and thus lead to the creation of this foundation.
First and foremost the Foundation wants to maintain support for existing missions like feeding the hungry, supplying seasonal necessities to the poor (i.e., blankets, mosquito nets, saris for widows etc), and medical support for the poor. It is a personal dream of mine to see the foundation expand our support for education and vocational initiatives. In my mind the best route out of poverty is through education, but a child needs access to a decent school (the public schools are quite poor) and help with their homework if the parents are illiterate. This type of initiative would create jobs in the community as well as investing in the children. In terms of vocational assistance, there is a need to expand the sewing center program into the rural communities to provide training where the women are, rather than where the instructor is. I have spoken with many graduates of this program, and the women tell stories of empowerment like being able to better feed their families, having extra money to buy/make clothes for their children. Powerful statements to effectiveness of this program!
A longer term dream is to setup self sustaining programs that raise people from abject poverty to become self-sufficient. An example would be training a family how to raise chickens, sell the eggs and surplus chickens to support themselves. Another example is establishing a system of micro-loans that extend credit to people without access to normal financial institutions. These loans might be on the order of $100 to purchase a bicycle rickshaw which is totally out of reach for some, but which would immediately provide an income.
Peace be with you,