Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Balloon Animals, Shoeboxes and Concrete

Caitie Work
Our team had an awesome time and learned a lot about God’s work in the communities we visited. We had opportunities to be involved in many different ministries like when our team organized and led a children’s program using balloon animals, face painting and fingernail painting. We also unloaded Operation Christmas Child [OCC] shoeboxes from a container and did a distribution of the shoeboxes and also Toms shoes.
The majority of the work we did was on a construction site, pouring concrete to create bleacher seating for a local school’s future gym. A few of us also put on an anti-bullying presentation at that same school.
During this trip, I was impacted by the willingness of the people to serve the Lord in their community and their sense of gratitude for the things they had as well as the things they received from us. I am so thankful for the people who supported me on this journey. Their generosity and sacrifice blessed me and the people of Costa Rica.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A School to Give Children a Chance

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STEP.  The Society for Transformation, Education and Progress (STEP) was established by second-generation Indian Christians in Odisha state, a part of India that is very hostile to the Gospel.  In fact, in 1999 a Christian missionary, Graham Staines, who had spent many years establishing schools and community development projects was burnt alive along with his two sons in their car.  But from that tragedy the Indians whose lives were positively touched by their efforts established STEP to carry on the work of the Staines to love the people of this region.
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The Location.  In early February our team of seven, with team members who call Canada, USA, Scotland and India (Delhi) home, arrived by SUV into the rural village of Hatigarh, five hours north of Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha.  In this village off the beaten track from the main highway, most houses are built with traditional mud brick, mud plastered walls and grass roofs. Our task was to design a K-7 school, some children’s residences for those who live too far to walk to school and housing for staff and teachers.
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The School.  The goal of STEP in building this school is to provide over 500 rural children from families of all castes and religions a chance to receive a good education and have hope for the future.  Children in this very disadvantaged area of Odisha in eastern India attend public schools where it is common to find 100 students in each class.  So one vision is to build a school with affordable tuition (even public schools charge fees for books and uniforms) where classes will be 35 students per teacher.
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Sewing Class.  STEP also recognizes that vocational training and employment opportunities are very hard to find in a place where most families rely on subsistence farming on small plots of land.  So STEP started a sewing school for women.  Our team was able to not only attend the graduation of the first sewing class but we were invited to the opening of a tailor shop so the women would have employment.  I was given the immense privilege of cutting the ribbon!
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Love of Jesus.  At the root of all their efforts STEP is motivated by love; their love for God and for the people of India.  While the school and all vocational training opportunities are open to all faiths and castes, it is no secret that living out the love of Jesus is a foundational motivation for the work of STEP.  And the people are not complaining.  Certainly not the ladies in the first graduation class who gladly told us with joy how their new skills and employment would greatly help their family and how much they looked forward to having a school of quality for their children.
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Our Work.  On the long, narrow STEP property (until they acquire more land for Phase 2) we developed a school with a multi-purpose auditorium and a library, both of which will not only serve the school but the community as well.  India requires all school children to receive one meal each day at school so there is a cafeteria and of course, open space for the children to play.
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Further into the property will be residences for teachers and staff adjacent to medical clinic.  At the rear of the property will be STEP’s guesthouse and boarding residences for children who live to far to walk to school each day.
Project Photos.  A new project video has been added to the right-side menu and a new set of annotated photos has been placed in my Photo Gallery with various options to view it.  If you want to browse the set, click here.  If you want to see the titles and read the captions of each photo, click here.
Thank you to all who make this work possible through your encouragement, prayer and financial support; you have been a part of making this project, and the resulting touched lives, a reality.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Children's School and Home in India

The Ministry.  STEP exists to impact people (Society) with the gospel (Transformation), knowledge (Education) and hope for social mobility (Progress).

The Need.  Government schools are located in larger centres and in poorer states, even when they exist they often provide very poor quality of education.  The poor are unable to afford school fees or the transportation costs when they live in remote villages.  Compounding the issue is if a family is from a lower caste as they are highly discriminated against.

Cropped cropped INDIA NEPAL 2008 C 399
The Solution.  STEP seeks to break down class and economic barriers to education and opportunity.  Their goal is to positively touch the lives of destitute children and their families regardless of their income or social standing…and regardless is the child is a boy or a girl.  In fact, their website explicitly states that special consideration will be given to girls and those from persecuted groups due to their vulnerability.  Children who attend this school from families with more finances will subsidize children from poor families through school scholarships.

eMi Involvement.  Our team of engineers and architects will be designing a K-7 school as well as a residence for 100 children who’s families live too far away and who do not have daily transportation options.  No status (high or low caste) will be maintained and children of any caste will learn and live together.

To read more about this eMi project click here.  To visit the STEP website click here.

Please keep us in prayer as we travel in the air and on the ground and also remember all team member families as we are away for this project.  Thank you to all our supporters and friends who make it possible for me to do this work.