A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. KP Yohannan and talk with him about a recent visit to the Mumbai slums. I visited GFA’s Bridge of Hope project there in 2010; at that time there were just four centers helping 100-200 kids each. Now, there are 32 Bridge of Hope centers!
Here is an excerpt from Dr. KP Yohannan’s blog about some of the things we talked about during the interview.
K.P.’s Visit to the Mumbai Slums: Trusting God for These Precious Children
But I cannot forget these slums. I am compelled by God to do all I can to help the brothers and sisters who live and labor there because they, too, are compelled by same love from God—not for the slums, but for the slum dwellers. I go back to the slums because my heart breaks for these precious people whom the world would rather forget. And the children, they are born innocents but will face great difficulties ahead if someone does not reach them with hope for the future.
Let me tell you what I mean.
This last visit, I was at one of the centers supported by GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program in this slum. Not too long ago, there were just four Bridge of Hope centers in this area. Now there are 32. Te one I visited has 128 students. It is amazing what God is doing in these centers.
During my time there, I got to visit the children’s math class and help to serve their lunch.
This one little girl in the fourth grade—I’ll call her Dayita—brought us to visit her home. Both of her parents have died, so she lives alone with her grandmother, who is a widow. It’s just the two of them in a 10’ by 12’ space made of makeshift tin sheets. The living room, the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom are the same room. I cannot tell you how it hurts me to see anyone living like this. We make better houses for our dogs. Yet, would you believe, Dayita’s grandmother must pay rent to live in such a place? Yes, it’s true—1,500 rupees a month (about $23 USD).
That means that she has to work to feed and house the two of them. She told me that she works seven days a week to make ends meet. She makes what little money she can by going from home to home outside the slum, washing clothes and dishes from early in the morning until late in the day. Every day. Just to survive and to provide shelter and food for Dayita.
So, I wonder, what will become of Dayita?
Her grandmother told me, “If the Bridge of Hope center was not here, this, my little girl, may be begging on the streets.” She said Bridge of Hope was the only hope Dayita had to grow up as a human being.
And yet, it’s so hard to predict what will happen to her as she grows up in the slums. Bridge of Hope can provide education, healthcare and nutrition. And we can pray. No, we must pray, because before we know it, Dayita will be a young teenager. This can be a life-changing time for girls in poverty-ravaged communities. It happens across many parts of the world where young girls—13 and 14 years old—are married oﬀ or sold into prostitution. Bridge of Hope is helping to rescue many girls from this plight, but the danger doesn’t always disappear immediately.
There are so many living in situations like Dayita’s. It is a story repeated over and over. … Meeting Dayita and her grandmother reminds me that we cannot predict what lies ahead for any of them. And yet, we must do whatever we can when the Lord gives us the chance. I told Dayita’s grandmother, “Please know, as much as she can study to become a medical doctor, an engineer or whatever, we will be there with you and help.”
What will happen to Dayita five years from now? I do not know. …That is why we trust Jesus. Before the world began, the Lord knew this little girl, and He knew we would end up in that slum. And the Lord knew that we would care. He knew about each person who would become part of her journey through prayer and assistance. He has Dayita’s future under control, and He has ours under control, too. His plans for us are good (see Jeremiah 29:11). Knowing that He has our future planned, that it is good, and that He alone is in control—that is our hope. That is why we must not worry, but trust—for our future and for Dayita’s, also.
They also made a short film about Bridge of Hope in Mumbai. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen to give a real look inside a BOH center.