Read Time: 3 min.
Moved by Misery
In 1984, a 60-year-old Spanish missionary walked through the slums of northern India. The experience left a permanent impression on her. What struck her senses the most was not the stench of raw sewage draining through the streets, nor the lack of electricity and clean water, nor even the shocking number of children who were unable to afford to go to school, but the widespread misery of the women who lived there.
She witnessed a massive society of women who were marginalized, oppressed, neglected, discouraged, and without hope… and she believed that God was calling her to do something about it. She felt an undeniable need to leave the comforts of her own home to go live with these women… side by side… in order to understand their misery and help them overcome it.
Mountains of Lack
Upon moving to the slums to live among these women, the most imminent and obvious need was their need for financial freedom. But there were mountains of challenges standing in the way of women in the slums of India being able to gain their financial freedom.
There were mountains of lack… of not enough… of dire and extreme needs.
All of these mountains seemed impossible to overcome in the darkness of the deep-rooted cultural discrimination against women that flourished in India’s slums and made it even harder to help these women see any possibilities of hope.
Lack seemed to be the prime source of misery for the women in the slums…
…lack of money… lack of education… lack of electricity… lack of clean water… lack of health care… lack of access… lack of transportation… lack of respect.
Nearly all of these daily lacks seemed to be rooted in two all-encompassing major lacks… lack of opportunities and lack of hope.
Even if she was able to create and provide opportunities to empower these women, any opportunity would be ineffective and powerless if the women remained imprisoned by their own lack of hope.
The Darkness of Discrimination
Despite being outlawed in India in 1950, many of these women’s lives had been devastated by the lingering practice of India’s ancient caste system that taught the belief that women were of less value than men. Thousands of years of tradition had made a deep impact in the culture of many villages and communities throughout India.
It seemed that it would take more time and a complete change of perspective, not only on behalf of society, but also within the women themselves, in order for these women to see themselves as equals.
Through sharing the love of God and her own love for them, slowly this Spanish missionary began to help the women throughout the slums see their value, believe their worth, and dare to hope for a better future.
The Light of Hope
In spite of all of these overwhelming challenges, this one Spanish missionary was determined to plant her seeds of faith, hope, and love in the hearts and minds of the women living in the slums of India…
…the women she was now deeply connected to…
…a sisterhood she was now a part of.
As she began her journey to inspire hope and create change for women in India’s slums, her own faith, hope, and love empowered her to see and nurture the women’s sense of value, strengths, and potential.
One day, as she was living among her new “sisters”, she saw a light of hope that changed all of their lives forever.