These are some reflections of our team members regarding their experiences in Nepal.[divider top=”no”]
I just wanted to attest to the fantastic time I had in Nepal recently, as part of my involvement with Transform the Nations/Educate Nepal. It was a privilege to assist the local Nepali Christian school teachers at Malpani in their professional practice. It was a blessing to witness the passion they have for their students and their desire to see them grow in their christian faith and experience and also to be the best they can be personally and academically. Another blessing of my recent trip was being part of the opening of the new Christian school in Chhinchu. It was fantastic to witness the involvement and enthusiasm of the local community at this historic event. It was so encouraging and inspiring to see and experience the love and passion they have for their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If God is challenging you to be part of this exciting ministry, may I encourage you to listen carefully and respond in the affirmative, you won’t be disappointed![divider]
The brief was simple enough, travel to Nepal learn all that the Transform the Nations ministry does there for the trafficked Badi girls, return and raise awareness of the work throughout the churches of Australia.
The time frame was short but we managed to all get the necessary travel documentation and medicals completed in time for departure. We met up with the rest of our party at the international departures lounge in Brisbane and thus began one of those life changing trips that you truly appreciate and yet intimidate you all at once.
Arriving in Kathmandu the following day we were immediately bombarded with a sensory overload of vivid coloured buildings, people, vehicles, and clothing. Overpowering new odours caused us to tense our tummies, visually masses of traffic zig zagging all over the roads was cause for concern and yet no road rage or even a side ways glance from the locals made us quickly realise this was the norm. Auditory senses flew into overdrive with taxi horns constantly bleating, cattle and other livestock calling from the main roads and high humidity with a hot breeze added to the mix. These were our first impressions of this beautiful country, it was to become a life changer as we got to know the Nepalese people.
We hit the ground running as our party arrived only a few days prior to a large team of volunteers who were all coming to teach, to train and assist the ministry with a variety of life and professional skills . Off to market and the local grocery store to supply the pantry ready for their arrival. Trekking down town was another sensory adventure as the bustling streets of this part of Kathmandu filled quickly with road side vendors, stores that spilled onto the footpath and so many people. Again though there was no push, no panic, no one disgruntled if we stopped to photograph a calf standing in the centre of the walk way as passer-by’s manoeuvred around us, no, people had a different mindset, a softer approach to each other. It was as if they were all family.
Walking to the end of the street to buy our goods needed extreme care as one eye was required to pick a path over the rough track and also through the crowd and the other eye trying to maintain a fix on our position and the balance of our group. Getting lost seemed very easy and not an adventure I was ready for yet.
Our first assignment was to walk a couple of km to one of the hostels and interview the sponsored girls so as to bring the most up to date information back to their respective sponsors in Australia. Sweating as we arrived at the brightly painted hostel we were met with a flurry of warm greetings from the staff. Soon after we stepped inside the girls’ arrived from their day at school and squealed with excitement to see MaMa Robyn again. It was obvious that the relationship she had built with these girls was deep and mutual.
The interviews began a series of heart wrenching and focus challenging stories of girls being sold as sex slaves, of little ones four and five working so hard every day that they developed calloused hands like veteran farmers back home might have. Knowing that at a preset time in life they to might be sent to ‘work abroad’ aka sold into a brothel. These girls had been rescued by the Transform the Nations leadership, moved to the opposite end of the country, housed in hostels with caring christian house parents, offered education and basic medical all because people had responded to their plight and obeyed God’s call. To look at these kids smiling, laughing and dancing it seemed an impossibility that the horrors that they spoke of could even be real.
Another day another hostel full of young girls, beautiful smiling faces and so excited to meet us and see Robyn. Yet again another series of painful stories that had us in tears inside and out. The plight of these kids before entering the refuge of the hostels was heart breaking.
As we travelled to each hostel and then to the Christian schools that had been established to educate the children the enormity of the ministry started to sink in, multiple hostels, several schools, medicals, churches, a guest house all established in the last few years to care for these poorest of the poor, untouchables in their own society, throw aways in the eyes of so many and yet here was an entire network of christian people professional and plain all focused on giving these children a chance at life without scorn, ridicule and abuse.
The centre to care for throw away babies was to be a straw that weighed down the camel. Babies, some days old, rescued from rubbish piles, doorways and hospitals was an emotional overload that even the hardest heart would surely melt at. Precious in the sight of the Lord are these little ones and looking into their faces it was easy to see why.
We journeyed overnight by bus to attend the opening of the newest school and after the ceremony and musical concert we had the opportunity to visit one of the villages that several of the older rescued girls had come from. These girls attend daily vocational training to give them skills to become valuable employees or the opportunity to open their own businesses. Nestled on the water line of a tributary river the village experience broke that poor camels back, here we saw first hand the utter poverty that was daily life for the Badi people, children carrying huge rocks from the river, adults and children sitting in waste deep water for hours to bring the rocks to the surface. Shovelling the finer gravel onto trailers that would take it and the gravel from rocks after being smashed to sell at a nearby concrete works for a pittance. Mud huts with openings but no doors, no floors and some only made from tree branches. Each monsoon sections of the village was lost in floods and have to be rebuilt. An appreciation of why the girls in the hostels love their new environment was growing in us. This raw look at the real world life of the Badi people cemented in us the desire to assist, to let Aussies know that they could make a real difference here, that the transformation in these kids is tangible and incredible because they have come from utter darkness into God’s gracious light and they see the difference in a very real way.
Returning on the bus with more rescued girls we saw the initial looks of fear and distrust on their faces as they must have wondered if this was just another opportunity to be abused. Seeing these same faces a few days later after they had a chance to settle into their hostels and experience for the first time the love of God showered on them by his servants and fellow rescued girls, now many themselves Chrsitians they rushed to us for cuddles and greetings with smiles replacing frowns and a sparkle already forming in their beautiful brown eyes. Their transformation journey had begun.
The Nepalese people have a different culture to ours, not just in the way life is lived, not just in the food that is different nor in language and religious differences but a fundamental outlook on society that we realised as we understood them more and more. They don’t live for work and career and then give what is left to family, no they live for relationship, they exist to coexist. This is why they use the car horn to warn they are approaching and do so without rage, they let you past in a busy street without minding, they gather to watch a game of chess and cheer a good move or sit and chat for hours at a time. And this is why when the gospel is accepted they flourish. The core of the gospel message is a relationship restored with the creator God and this message gels with these people.
Now armed with a fuller understanding of the work that Transform the Nations is doing here and a God given compassion for the Badi people we confidently move towards the next phase. Returning to Australia and sharing the love story that God has for his people all across the globe and particularly what we have witnessed here in Nepal.[divider]
HELEN BLANCH (New Hope International)
What a difference the Lord makes through the ministry of a Christian school! The stories of the girls’ pasts are horrendous and hard to comprehend. It seems that their childhood has been stolen from them and we wonder how they will ever recover. But the deep love of Jesus through the ministry of His Spirit and His people are remaking them in His image and restoring to them the preciousness of their lives. I am sure that it will be a long journey of healing for many of them. Christian education is about a transforming vision of life and there is genuine transformation visibly taking place in their lives. Even their physical appearances reflect the joy of new found relationships of grace that are helping to overcome the scars and violations that have previously been inflicted on them…
…I was so thankful for the brief time I could learn and serve in Nepal. It was a time of such mixed emotion and thoughts. The kind of existence that so many Nepalis live was both confronting and challenging. When I think of my own culture and how much we complain about our blessings, the sense of entitlement and the wastage of the consumer culture, it makes me feel grieved. Yet in the midst of this land the hope of Jesus shines through his people like a lighthouse in the darkness. Transform the Nations and Hosanna Church Ministries of Nepal need support to bring redemption to this needy land. Christian Education is a transforming vision of life that can give hope and a future to the children who in turn can change the nation from the inside out. As sons and daughters of the living God we can speak to the children of all nations about ‘the old and the new’, ‘being lost but now found’, ‘abandoning slavery and embracing freedom’ and ‘living in hope rather than despair’.[divider]