“This part of the village needs clean water,” the woman in her early 40s remarked to my friend Biju Thomas, the director of Transformation India Movement, Jesus’ Economy’s partner in Bihar, India. She was grateful for the recent water well in her slum, but with thousands of more living just down the road, she knew the people at the other end of the slum were still drinking dirty water. The look on her face, as she expressed her slum’s needs, will never leave my mind.
“My baby’s arm is broken—motorcycle accident,” mentioned another woman in a different village. “He needs care,” she said, “But I don’t have any money.”
For all three women, care was offered—their stories, though, represent life in Bihar. And for many women, help never comes.
When women in Bihar find work, its hard labor—in the fields and at construction projects. And they still care for their children, and prepare all the food each day for their household. They handle nearly all matters for their families. They are strong, brave, and enduring. But I saw a better way forward.
“I have a sustainable job now. The women from my village come to me to have clothing made, for them and their children—and I can now make a living. My babies have the food they need,” said a lady who had graduated from one of the Bridge of Hope Tailoring Centers that are provided by Transformation India Movement.
I asked my friend Biju what the perception is of the empowered women—who in this place in the world, are often viewed as lesser people simply because they’re women. He said that the men are grateful—many of the women are doubling the incomes of their households. In addition, many of the men end up liking what Christians are doing so much—providing training to their spouses—that they end up coming to church.
Life in Bihar is difficult, to say the least. But there is hope in the faces of the women who are trained as seamstresses—they smile, which is too rare of an expression in Bihar. There is hope for renewal in Bihar.