Thank you to everyone who partnered with us to help reveal hope and restore life to the residents and staff of Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission, as India is experiencing a devastating second wave of COVID-19. Thanks to your generosity and willingness to act urgently, we have reached our goal of $80,000. We have informed Mukti to purchase the medical equipment and initiated the wire transfer to send funds over. This will supply Mukti Mission’s hospital with the equipment needed to treat patients in care, and even prepare Mukti to respond to a third wave.
As of Wednesday, May 26, a total of 67 staff and residents have recovered from the virus, 13 are in the hospital and 16 are recovering in isolation at home.
Mukti Mission is mourning the loss of four people who have passed away from COVID. Just this past week, Tara Tai, 83 years old, passed away at Pune Hospital. Mukti is currently arranging a funeral service for her. Another woman who recently went to be with the Lord is Madhuri Khurade, She was brave and cheerful until the end and put up a gutsy fight against COVID. She came to the Mission in 2012 after being deserted by her husband. Madhuri is survived by her two children, who reside in Nasik. She was strong and hard working, with a very helpful nature and never refused any assignment given to her.
Since the outbreak on Mukti campus, Dr. Ajitha Kuberji, the medical officer for Mukti, has been in touch with the local doctor, Dr. Bhandalwalkar, and has been receiving advice. Patients in more serious condition are transferred to Dr. Bhandalwalkar’s hospital. Meanwhile, Dr. Kuberji continues to keep patients’ medications monitored from home. Mukti’s hospital staff have risen to the occasion, diligently ensuring that all PPE kits and protocol are strictly followed.
The children at Mukti are occupying themselves with indoor games, gardening and helping in their flower families. The Home Supervisors take utmost care to ensure their wards maintain social distance, take steam inhalation and drink neem decoction.
Children and women who are recovering were given packets of Bournvita (a drink with nutrients, similar to Ovaltine/Horlicks) and dry fruits. Each family has also been given an oximeter to monitor oxygen level.
Two weeks ago, the gram panchayat (village council) of Boripardhi village sprayed the entire campus with medicine and all the families where children reside, as well as the different Sadans (homes) were sprayed from inside as well.
Mukti continues to stay strong and positive during this time. Although the situation is challenging, they continue to be grateful for God’s care and provision, praying through Psalm 91.
Thank you again for responding urgently and giving so generously. Your help and prayers have been greatly appreciated
Stories and images of mass cremations in India paint a stark picture of the devastation and suffering that the country is experiencing amidst its second wave of COVID-19.
With a population of 1.36 billion, India recently reached an overall total of 23,340,938 COVID cases and tallied 254,197 deaths. The numbers are believed to be much higher, considering the amount of infections and deaths that have gone unreported.
The situation is dire, as hospitals are unable to accommodate patients due to a shortage of beds and medical oxygen supply.
The state of Maharashtra, where Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission’s main campus is located, has been hit the hardest. Unfortunately, despite taking safety measures, Mukti Mission hasn’t been immune to the health crisis. As of May 12, a total of 74 staff and residents (women and children) have contracted the virus – five have been admitted to the hospital, while five are quarantined and recovering at home. A total of 63 have recovered or been discharged from the hospital, but sadly, it’s been confirmed that two people have died.
Mukti Mission is a Christ-centred home that desires to see women and children become salt and light in society. GAiN believes that every person is made in the image of God and has inherent dignity, regardless of their background.
“There is a shortage of important drugs, which is a big challenge for us.” – Anil Francis, Mukti Mission’s Chief of Operations and Deputy Director.
Mukti Mission needs your help. As the Canadian Chapter of Mukti Mission, we are working to respond to this crisis and are asking you to join us in this effort.
While Mukti Mission’s hospital staff are working hard to care for COVID patients and ensure a quick recovery, there is still a shortage of equipment needed to treat patients in care.
Among what is needed are:
- 4 BiPAP machines
- 2 ventilators
- 4 cardiac monitors
- 4 oxygen concentrators
- medicines and testing kits
These machines cost a total of $80,000, and will help
- position Mukti Mission to respond to the third wave
- equip Mukti’s Krishnabai Memorial Hospital to provide help and care to Mukti’s staff, residents, community of Kedgaon village and the surrounding rural communities
There’s a common phrase in Paraguay that talks about putting on the jersey when someone needs you or something needs to be done. It means that you are a team player and that people can count on you to come through. Over the past year, Maria has shown that she not only is a team player, but that she seeks out opportunities to empower the women around her — her teammates — in life.
Maria joined a trust group through Diaconía, Global Aid Network (GAiN)’s partner in Paraguay, three years ago to help her thermos decoration business grow. In 2018, she started attending vocational training courses to learn how to decorate sandals and make bead jewelry. Her instructor, Fabiola, recognized her talent and knew about her thermos decoration business, so she invited Maria to learn more about becoming a course instructor.
At the beginning of 2019, Maria started teaching a new course. With the popularity of a loose leaf tea called “tereré,” her thermos decoration quickly became the course with the most demand in the communities. Maria has grown significantly in her self-confidence and independence, as she now drives herself to other cities to offer courses. Recently, she has expanded the courses she offers to include the skills she had previously learned with Diaconía. Last year, she taught a total of ten courses.
With her payment from teaching, she applied what she has learned during her time with Diaconía and invested wisely in her business. She was able to purchase a new embroidery sewing machine to give her thermos products a more detailed and elegant design. As she continues to grow in ability and capacity, Maria never looked around and saw other women as competition. She is always looking for ways to serve and empower the women around her, helping them to learn new skills and ways to improve their businesses. She has also looked for new ways to serve in her church as she grows in her faith through the constant discipleship she receives through Diaconía.
Everyone that meets Maria falls in love with her. She shows up early and prepared. She knows what it means to go above and beyond — to wear the jersey.
We met Maria earlier this year and were encouraged by her story. Like everyone else, her life was impacted by COVID but because of the continued support, Diaconia is slowly restarting operations. At the moment, there are a total of 4,340 Diaconia clients. Smaller loan groups are meeting where possible, or trust group presidents are meeting one-on-one with members. As things are getting back on track, we look forward to sharing more stories of hope like Maria’s.
When COVID hit Paraguay, the country’s strict lockdown measures meant that many small businesses suffered, resulting in many families struggling to get enough food to eat each day. As a result, GAiN’s local partners Diaconia and Jesus Responde are running soup kitchens to help.
Margarita R. is a chaplain for Diaconia. She meets with trust groups, specifically to share God’s word, encourage women in the trust groups and pray for them. This was needed more than ever, as a lot of these women were desperate to provide for their families. Below is her story about how she was able to walk alongside a woman who had experienced a series of tragic events.
“I contacted the president of a trust group called San Vincente and asked the leader for permission to visit the soup kitchen so I could pray for her and her family. She accepted without hesitation.
One day, I was visiting a woman named Zunilda and she shared her very painful past. She lost her daughter-in-law in a motorcycle accident, and then three months later, her daughter and her husband also got into an accident, which left her husband fighting for his life. Thankfully, after a long treatment, her daughter recovered completely.
I followed up with Zunilda once a week to pray, encourage her and her family, and share the Word of God with them. The last time that I visited, she told me about a recent tragedy with her nephew. He was hit by a car after chasing a soccer ball that went into the street.
Through text messages, I chatted with her and encouraged her to not distance herself from God, but to rest in Him. I explained how we are able to do this, and every week I continue to pray with her and her daughter. I make sure to continue to share encouraging devotionals with them.
The family was filled with anxious worry about the nephew’s recovery. It’s at times like these that they say they are very thankful for the prayers and support they receive from Diaconia.
I was encouraged when Zunilda told me that she is drawing closer to God again. Thanks to Him, she says, her six-year-old nephew is now much better and has returned home from the hospital.”
Your support has helped provide not just physical nourishment, but emotional and spiritual support for women and families that are struggling during this pandemic. Thank you for helping reveal hope and restore life during these uncertain times. Your help is making a huge impact.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the country of Paraguay immediately imposed a strict lockdown and managed to keep their cases low. Unfortunately, this put limitations and restrictions on people’s ability to work, worsening the situation for those already living day-to-day and experiencing food insecurity.
Diaconia, Global Aid Network (GAiN)’s Paraguayan partner, was unable to run trust groups due to a ban on public gatherings. Because of strict curfews and other restrictions, many of their clients’ businesses were impacted.
To help alleviate the stress of food insecurity for their clients’ families and others, Diaconia teamed up with Jesus Responde to run soup kitchens in multiple different communities. There are currently 49 active soup kitchens, reaching over 8,500 people.
Gloria Q., an employee of Diaconia, shared the impact that the soup kitchens are having in the communities, as well as the hearts and sacrifice of the women who are serving.
“I have had the opportunity and great pleasure of being able to spend a morning with several [Diaconia] clients who are running one of the soup kitchens. Having someone visit from the organization brings so much joy to the community and they are always very thankful for the both the material and moral support that they receive from Diaconia.
The women commented happily about their day-to-day experiences cooking for so many people in need. They are in a large squatter village and can’t serve every person but are very thankful to be able to reach so many families.
As they showed me their cooking space, I noticed that they had all of their utensils sanitized and clean and several families had brought firewood so that it would be enough when it came time to cook.
While their cooking space is a bit precarious, the women are not discouraged thanks to their positive attitudes and enthusiasm. They have notebooks where they record the quantity of people that attend every day and a small bank for those who wanted to contribute even the smallest coins to purchase meat for the next day.
Many of them work in recycling and have found themselves out of work temporarily.
Miriam, who is a Diaconía client, and Rosa, who is the owner of the house where they cook, are both Christians and are very grateful for the opportunity to share what God is doing in that place.
Every day, they ask the people attending to form a line where they will retrieve their food and, before serving, they share a Bible verse and pray for the needs that they express at that time.
Now, they don’t even have to ask for prayer requests, the people they serve make sure to remind them that it’s time to pray and most of all they look forward to the time of prayer before the food is served.
Rosa even commented that some people have shown up to leave a small piece of paper that has their prayer requests on the days that the soup kitchen doesn’t serve meals.
These women expressed how God works to not only provide supplies and materials, but also works spiritually and how he can change perspectives and mindsets when families hear His Word. Some, maybe only a few, but not any less important, are conscious that if they have even something small to eat at home, they don’t attend the soup kitchen so that those who need it most are able to eat, despite not having enough for themselves.
Some days, they play games and sing Christian songs with the children that come. If they show up early and the food isn’t ready yet, they take advantage of the time to have some fun with the younger kids. And then, after the meal, they go home even more joyful.
After spending a wonderful morning with the women of this soup kitchen, we had a time of prayer—thanking God for His mercy, asking Him to keep transforming hearts through this activity, and for taking care of each person who is exposed daily to COVID-19.
This was such a beautiful experience for me and filled me with such a feeling of satisfaction and, more importantly, joy. I thank God for each one of the women working in the soup kitchens that each and every day are willing and ready to serve their community without expecting anything in return.”
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Cor. 5:17 (NIV).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India has been under lockdown, restricting the movement of girls and women at Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission (Mukti). Mukti has been focusing on healing for the community and instilling higher standards of hygiene. They are spending this time in lockdown learning to create, communicate, cooperate and work on new methods toward self-sufficiency.
The flower family girls volunteered to set up kitchen gardens in their family yards, with guidance from the farm staff. Segregation of organic and non-organic waste is done systematically and making their own fertilizer is now a joy and not a burden. The farm staff is committed to the vision of using every patch of land and making it productive.
While the girls are keeping busy, being forced to stay at home has been frustrating for them. Being occupied with gardening, cooking and handcrafts hasn’t been enough. Dr. Lorraine Francis, Mukti’s Mission Director, had something in mind for the girls. She took her love and concern to the Lord in prayer and decided to hold a one week camp, from June 15 to June 19, 2020, for the Mukti girls on campus.
Dr. Ajita Kuberji, Dr. Deepika and Dr. Lorraine Francis, were the resource women for the camp. They spoke on the theme of newness in Christ. The young women experienced a fresh visitation from the Lord. Many girls prayerfully made the decision to walk in the newness of Christ, with reverence and in obedience to God’s Word. Many wanted to put away old thinking patterns and behaviors and have a closer relationship with God. The girls gained a better understanding of involving God in every aspect of their lives. Dr. Lorraine Francis also spoke of the importance of maintaining a journal. The girls made a commitment to record their thoughts and burdens in a private journal.
The 104 girls who attended the camp were divided into teams named after birds: Peacock, Dove, Eagle and Parrot. It was a delightful sight to see all these girls dressed beautifully in colours that imitated the plumage of their team birds. Apart from the spiritual sessions, there were also sessions on painting, art and crafts. The happy campers participated in games, cultural activities and even a cooking competition.
The team that organized the camp was keen that girls struggling with emotionally heavy issues be encouraged. The sound of their singing, dancing and joyous laughter was a rich reward for the team’s hard work.
This verse represents Mukti’s prayer and hope for each precious girl who attended the camp “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
When India went under a strict lockdown in March, migrant workers were left unable to work when their job sites (like factories) were forced to shut down1. Living on a daily wage, many felt they had no choice but to return to their homes, often hundreds or thousands of kilometres away, in rural areas. For those unable to get transportation, they’ve been forced to return home on foot. This has led to over 100 deaths and even more injuries, either from accidents or exhaustion2.
Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission has been involved in outreach to migrant workers, providing over 460 food packets to families in need. Below is a story from Mukti:
There are many heartbreaking stories among the migrant workers. As my residence is facing the state highway, most of the time, I see broken families. Having packed their scanty belongings, they make their way back to their own state. I saw a couple, with the wife balancing a little infant on her hip, and a bundle of clothes on her head. The husband had another bag on his shoulder and a toddler holding his hand. With tears rolling down their cheeks, they had been walking on foot, not knowing when they would reach their destination.
Some of these families have to travel thousands of kilometres to reach their hometown. The migrant workers with whom Mukti is associated are so grateful that Mukti has spared their lives, saving them from having to sleep under the railway tracks with their families.
“Thank you Mukti Mission for coming to our aid. We would have done a foolish thing by making a decision to leave Kedgaon!” one family shared. “From the feedback we have received from our friends who left their workplace and took the risk of going home, are now in very bad shape. Most of them suffered from all kinds of illness on the way. Some died and others are on the way to die. Those who have managed to reach their destination through difficulties are not allowed to live in the village. Their hometown neighbours and friends are not willing to take the risk of accepting them back. Hence, in other words, they are neither here nor there. This is the plight of migrant workers all over India. Praise God for Mukti Mission who stretched forth their hand of love, kindness and generosity which we will forever be indebted to. In no way, we can repay you for what you have been doing for us, but we know that there is a God who will reward you.”
By Priya Dsouza, Mukti Staff
Radhika came to Mukti as a shy two-year-old. Her father had recently died in a railway accident. He had passed out drunk on the railway track and was run over by a train. He was survived by his wife Hirabai, five daughters and a son. Hirabai was uneducated and made little money as a maid. She suffered from a bad back; this made most labour intensive jobs very painful for her. She was doing her very best to support a family of seven, but it was still not sufficient.
Hirabai brought her youngest two daughters to Mukti Mission for residential care and education. Radhika became a part of the Sunflower family and spent her childhood there. Hirabai had requested that her daughters be educated in Marathi medium, so the two sisters attended Sharda Sadan school and then the Manorama Memorial girls High School. Radhika was a good student. Besides being attentive in class, she also excelled in drawing and painting. A passion she still pursues.
Radhika was raised in a Christian environment, hearing about God and His sacrificial love for her. She found great comfort in the Bible and God’s promises. But she did not accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. When she was in the 11th standard, Radhika attended Vacation Bible School. It was here that God touched her heart. She gave her life to Jesus and became a new creation. She started to read the Bible and experience life in a different way.
After obtaining very good marks in her 12th board exams, Radhika earned her B.A in Economics from Jawaharlal College in Kedgaon. She had always had a heart to serve, so a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) was the logical next step for her. She completed her Masters degree and worked as an assistant in the Residential Care office in Mukti. It was in her capacity as assistant that I met and worked with Radhika.
I was new to Mukti and assigned to create profiles for newly joined residents. The case files were all written in Marathi, a language I cannot read or understand. Radhika came over to my desk in the communication office to translate information I needed. She would go through the case reports and narrate the story to me. Then I would ask her specific question to fill blanks in the narrative. As we worked through that first pile of files, I noticed many unique qualities in Radhika.
She always used respectful terms, even while talking about the most villainous character mentioned in the case. Sometimes we would stop and talk about the people mentioned in the file and their lives. She showed great compassion in her understanding of people and their motivations. Her attitude can only be described as a Christ-like love towards sinners.
Radhika embodies the verse, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). She radiates peace, gentleness and is a calming presence in the midst of heated arguments and angry outbursts. She has a humble heart and ready smile. Radhika is always impeccably dressed and manages to look fresh even on sweltering summer afternoons.
Her friends and housemates of the Magnolia family have nothing but high praise for her cooking. Her egg biryani and chicken curry are always in demand. She also makes various Indian sweets with besan (chickpea flour) and tries to make time to cook for her Mukti family.
Radhika has not had much chance to bond with her biological family. She has begun reconnecting with them, but is a little wary of moving in with them. She fears that they will force her into an unsuitable marriage. There are many goals she wants to accomplish before settling into married life.
She feels she has an aptitude for counseling in the area of depression. She wants to do a counseling course sometime in the near future. She plans on preparing for a government job placement exam. She wants to be part of either the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) or the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
The security of a government job and the steady income would help her provide financially for her mother, who is aging and unwell.
Radhika started a new job at the Aashirvad Hostel in Nagpur last month. She will start off as a receptionist and later move onto Social Work related work. She is very excited for this new chapter in her life. After spending 24 years in the safety of Mukti Mission, the time has come for her to leave the nest. “Mukti is my home, I will be back when I get my annual vacation.” She attributes all her accomplishments to the opportunities received at Mukti Mission. The best gift Mukti gave her was introducing her to Jesus, her Lord and Savior.
YOU CAN SUPPORT A YOUNG GIRL AT MUKTI MISSION. WILL YOU GIVE TO HELP CHANGE A LIFE LIKE RADHIKA’S?
Mercedes is a woman of many talents. While her main business is selling clothing in her neighborhood, she also makes a variety of traditional Paraguayan foods to sell. Her two children are now grown, but are still living at home and their whole family depends on the income Mercedes generates with her business.
Creating a new income source was the initial reason that Mercedes became an entrepreneur, however, she has a deeper motivation for choosing to sell clothing. “Something I’ve always taught my children is that they should try to dress well,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, you should always try and you deserve the opportunity to dress well.” She also commented that when she does business, she’s not only selling clothes, she’s selling hope to the people in her neighborhood.
Seven years ago, Global Aid Network (GAiN)’s Paraguayan partner, Diaconía gave her the initial push she needed to get her business started. She says that Diaconía has helped her to look further than her current situation and to hope for more. “Diaconía gives us the support we need. The women in my community have a lot of potential, but we need a push and training on how to start a business. Diaconía has been a huge help.”
Mercedes has also learned how to always have a goal in mind, and she is working to one day have her own shop to sell clothes and also make healthy meals to-go. Many of her neighbours work full time and don’t have enough time to sit and have a healthy meal at lunch time. Her dream is to create a menu with healthy options that her neighbors can purchase and take with them on busy days.
Over the years, Mercedes’ trust group has grown together and learned to support and celebrate one another. They even take advantage of their meeting times to have birthday parties, baby showers and fundraisers for group members in need.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROVIDE A MICRO-LOAN TO A WOMAN LIKE MERCEDES?
Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission in India is not just a place to serve, but, as Marlene learned, a place where visitors will be served and loved by residents and staff.
“I thought I was going there to serve and I thought [people at Mukti] were in need but I felt that I was served instead. I came back home and just felt very, very blessed and very loved. I developed some good friends and I heard tons of stories and connected with the women who worked there.”
Through LIFE Team Manager and friend Lily, Marlene learned of the opportunity to join Global Aid Network (GAiN) on a LIFE Team impact trip to India. From the end of July to mid August, Marlene was able to go on the trip, along with her husband and three kids (15 year-old son, 13 year-old daughter and 11 year-old daughter).
“It was incredible because this was something that, when I initially thought of going to Mukti, I didn’t think that my whole family could come with us.”
Her group, which consisted of other families, was one of two groups that went to Mukti with GAiN this past summer.
During preparations for the trip, participants were advised to be open-minded when it came to being assigned tasks and areas to serve. Marlene had a willingness to do whatever was needed. As a self-described task-oriented person, she was ready to serve at the school, where she was to teach English lessons, and then at the office to help with child sponsorships and other administrative tasks.
“But the most impactful thing I got out of [being there] was just really listening and connecting to the stories of the girls and staff there. I enjoyed making connections and seeing how strong their faith and devotion is, and hearing what brought them to Mukti in the first place.”
One of the many people who made an impact on Marlene was a lady named Saroj. Saroj is a Mukti resident who volunteers at the dining room, serving international groups that come through to visit, like the LIFE Team. Marlene was touched by Saroj’s hospitality and heart to serve, and how she made them feel like “special guests.”
Saroj was initially brought to Mukti as a baby, where she grew up and has lived her whole life. She attended schools at Mukti and ended up serving in various ways. Saroj is a well-loved housemother for a flower family (Mukti residents are grouped into names of various flowers), where she serves the girls that live at her flower family home.
Marlene was especially touched by Saroj’s devotion and dedication. “She tells me that she doesn’t really sleep too much but early in the morning she spends about an hour or so just praying. Then she comes to morning devotions every single day and is off serving us throughout the entire day. Then afterwards, she goes into her home and serves her flower family in the evening, helping with their memory verses and with the homework and anything else that needs to be done. Then she starts it all over again, every single day. That’s her commitment and her devotion and she says this is where God has called her. This is where she’s meant to serve.”
Not only did they spend time getting to know the staff, they also spent quality time with the girls, visiting the different flower families.
“We were able to hang out and play with the kids and sing with them or have them braid our hair. Just talking and hearing their stories and doing crafts with them,” Marlene reminisced.
Although her family had never been on a trip like this, and her children had never been to a developing country before, the trip was impactful for the whole family. Mukti is a great place for families to serve in missions overseas, Marlene said, because it is safe and there are a variety of ways for each person to serve. The family is able to serve together or separately. She explained that on one day, her husband and son worked at the farm, while her and her daughter were at the special needs school, and their other daughter was in the nursery.
“I think it gives you an opportunity to safely serve as a family, but not necessarily together doing the same thing. There’s a variety of different things that you can serve in so you don’t feel like you’re doing something you don’t want to do or are not comfortable doing.”
Now that they’ve been home for a few months, Marlene has been reflecting on how the trip has made a difference in her and her family’s lives.
“I am more reserved when it comes to sharing my story of how God worked in my life. I only share if people ask me to share and I usually just share amongst one or two other people. So I felt like there were a lot of opportunities to share [my faith]. After the trip, I felt much bolder in regards to sharing God’s work in my life and not being so bashful about it. Because I have seen how these girls at Mukti, they praise God all the time; the stories from the staff at Mukti and how they are not inhibited by anything. They show their faith and devotion every single time.”
She hopes that her children will be able to look back on the trip as memorable and life-changing.
“I know that God has been working in [my kids’] hearts and I think that one day, maybe when they’re older, they’ll look back at this and will remember this as an experience together as a family. Hopefully some of the things that they experienced will impact them in how they look at people or look at other parts of the world, and how they look at what we have.”
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN GOING ON A LIFE TEAM IMPACT TRIP TO INDIA?