My Journey Through India with the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada.
Time to Get ‘Grounded’. When Reality Knocks On Your Door
I had the opportunity to visit #India this year – and to meet young girls – in rural communities – villages that are far from any city centre – villages that struggle to get access to basic human needs, such as access to clean water. We had the opportunity to meet and connect with communities – to meet with some pretty empowered girls and strong women who lead them – strong women who grew up just as these girls did – and who ‘now’ feel that they have much more control over their own lives. Because of the instrumental work that Christian Children’s Fund of Canada does on the ground here – and all of the positive impacts that the organization has on the community – and on the individuals themselves, We’re finally starting to see this change reflected in the way that people are acting and feeling – on a day-to-day basis. And this is ultimately where I come in – where I feel it is truly my privilege to come in. This is ‘my’ opportunity to give a voice to girls – girls from all upbringings – all backgrounds – girls that wanted so badly to tell me ‘their’ stories – their ‘struggles’ … and their ‘side of things’.
My Story – The Canadian In Me. My World vs. ‘The’ World
Having been raised in Canada and only knowing what a first world childhood feels like. From waking up in the morning and knowing that I would have breakfast, or to head to school and have other students ask me “what did you bring for lunch?” or “did you read yesterday’s chapter?” There was never talk of a caste or status system – no thoughts around race, colour, gender – we all saw each other as equals. What is so shocking is that for the advancements that we see in the western world; things we consider as ‘obvious’ and ‘natural’ are foreign to so many around the world. When you visit these places, it is as if we have gone back in time. How is it possible that there is still such a thing as a ‘caste system’ we ask? How is it possible that those who come from a lower caste system are treated like outcasts? But what gives us hope is knowing that life ‘can be better’ – and that ‘we’ – collectively – ‘can’ influence change. We can help others see and understand what ‘change’ can really look and feel like – and all we want to do – is let the rest of the world understand what that ‘life’ is like…
Back to the Beginning. The ‘Why’ Behind the ‘Way’
The Reason Why Things Are The Way They Are. The Three Big Issues In #India.
There are three big issues that really stood out to me throughout this trip. They are as follows…
Culture & The Caste System
Education – Lack of Access to Quality – Inclusive Education
The reason why these three play such a large role in the ‘why’ is because each one trickles down into the next. It all begins with the ‘the caste system’, and then is compounded by exclusion and cultural practices. This ultimately results in a vicious cycle of poverty that creates circumstances that feel as if there is no real positive outcome that is reachable. Life in India is difficult – and pure ‘survival’ becomes your focus. And for those that get the opportunity to go to school – even when they do come from a lower caste system – with the hope of changing that terrible cycle – they still face challenges and obstacles. They are often treated so poorly, by other students from a higher caste system, and on occasion, their teachers that it makes stepping foot onto the school grounds a daily challenge. In fact, children don’t even want to go to school anymore as it just starts to drain their enthusiasm and excitement for learning. Who wants to even go to school when you feel like a complete outcast?And so the cycle persists…
“If you Empower people – then you give them an intangible gift – the gift of confidence – the confidence that is needed to inspire change.”
The ‘Change’ That Leads To Change
In order for us to see ‘change’ – something ‘needs’ to change. And since the ‘cycle’ of poverty sometimes seems unbreakable from within – it often takes something from the outside to come and ‘influence’ that change. This is where CCFC saw an opportunity to help communities reach their full potential through education that would empower them to find their own path. CCFC education programs and initiatives are based around communities being taught their rights – informing them – letting them know ‘what’ they actually have access to and ‘how’ to go about obtaining that which they are entitled to, from their own local community members and government. This again – is also where I come in. I work to ‘influence’ the world on a daily basis – by sharing my personal thoughts – stories and journeys – with the hope of inspiring and motivating others to really go for their dreams. To run after anything that they want to achieve in their lives – and ultimately to ’empower’ them. If you empower people then you give them an intangible gift – the gift of confidence – the confidence that is needed to inspire change.
I was sincerely impressed with all that I had seen – heard – and learned about from all of the community members – leaders and children alike. It was so great to hear such positive responses from so many that have been influenced by CCFC. Even more inspiring to see the educational programs in place that were specifically developed for these children in these communities that were dedicated to promoting learning in a new way – one where the environment was a relaxed one – and where the focus was placed on how ‘enjoyable’ learning could be. This is the kind of program that really helps promote connectivity and social interaction – while also continuing to move in the direction of putting education at the forefront of all of this. I was also really happy to hear about all of the work being done to help engage and bring together the community in a way that allowed different individuals to showcase their skills and abilities. Definitely walked away from this with a sense that there was deep-felt hope and an overall eagerness (and excitement) to continue moving forward in this direction.
When the CCFC meets Chic Sophistic
It is often said that the opportunities that you are looking for in life tend to come along when the intent and ‘want’ for that opportunity comes from within. I have always wanted to give a voice to those that had no voice and to have the ability to ‘share’ incredible stories with the world – and well – that ‘want’ … became a reality when we were approached to go to India by CCFC. During this trip, we had the opportunity to visit one village that welcomed us and the CCFC team with open arms. We had the opportunity to witness their main goals of education through their peers, and domestic partners in-action. The main takeaway here – is that ‘education’ is the key to all of this – it is truly the main driver behind all of this change and improvement.
STOP Child Marriage NOW! Education Is Key
Before I close this off – I just have to take a minute to touch on the subject of forced child marriage. This really is a huge issue in India, and even though it is illegal, it affects approximately 30% of young girls from both the higher and lower end of the caste system and seems to grow where poverty persists. It is one of the most talked about issues and is a key focus for a number of charities and organizations around the world, like CCFC. While education is the ‘key’ to change, the ‘road’ to change is proving to be a bit bumpier than expected. Although CCFC has implemented some incredible initiatives and programs, making great use of the government’s telephone helpline that provides anonymity to callers reporting forced marriages, the issue of forced child marriage is still present and often still goes undiscovered. We can only hope that as more child marriages are reported and stopped that this starts to really change and improve lives. Like all good things – it all takes ‘time’ and we can all help, and play a role.
To donate and be a part of this change – please click on the link below and decide how you want to make your mark!
Donate here: https://www.ccfcanada.ca/gift-catalogue
A Message from CCFC
“Christian Children’s Fund of Canada creates a future of hope for children, families, and communities by helping them develop the skills and resources to overcome poverty and pursue justice.”
A Special Thank You to the CCFC for taking us along to really get a true sense and understanding of the incredible work that you do on the ground in #India. The experience was one that will stay with us for life. We remain inspired by all of the moments – memories and connections that were made during that time. The Chic Sophistic Team.