Jan 31, 2024
It's All About the Kids
In February 2023, I was blessed to travel with Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry (LPGM) to India and experience phenomenal interfaith commitment and spirituality.
LPGM started a partnership in 1996 with the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC) to provide education for people at the margins, especially women and girls, allowing them to stay in safety and learn at ALC boarding homes in Southern India.
I am so grateful to have been able to support access to this critical, quality education through “Project Education India” since 1999. The return gift of my annual sponsorship has been a connection with each girl by mail, now electronic, to share about me and learn more about her life. This year I received the ultimate gift of seeing and experiencing that mission in action.
The group’s arrival in Delhi, India provided an incredible new world to explore with its sights, sounds, voices, foods, and humanity. From this starting point, we got to experience not only the wonders of Northern India like the Taj Mahal, but all the history and humanity of this ancient place.
Starting with a Sikh Temple in the North, we had an opportunity to interact with five of the six major world religions that exist in India (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Islam, and Christianity). During the two-week trip, each temple, mosque, shrine, and church, along with their leaders and believers, provided examples of deep spirituality and devotion.
The next part of the trip was in southern India starting with an introduction to ALC and its mission for education, women and children empowerment, and interfaith dialogue. Truly faith in action!
And then the Kids - We visited and stayed in the boarding homes to truly experience everyday life. We were welcomed exuberantly with huge banners, music, and dancing at each boarding school.
We got to stop in all the classrooms where they had prepared lessons, readings, and discussions to share with us. It was evident they had been preparing for and greatly anticipating our LPGM visit.
Classrooms included those in the boarding schools 6th – 12th standard (grade), as well as two of the ALC’s English+ elementary schools 1st – 5th standard. That program is focused on improving literacy and exposure to English which is a unifying language of India. I got to experience the “learning” provided by those forms of education and teaching at all levels. The dedication of the teachers and students to the goal of education was incredible to witness. Extra special for me coming from a family of educators.
In the evenings we were honored with planned celebrations showcasing presentations of dances, gymnastics, yoga, drum, and martial arts. So many smiling faces, hands, and love.
Another incredible dedication was evident from the managers, staff, and field coordinators at the Boarding Schools. Managers are responsible for the entire workings of the schools to make them safe and welcoming homes for the students during the school year. The field coordinators (LPGM employees) are responsible for every student living in their assigned homes, including translation of the sponsor/student letters. We got to know them quite well in the short time we were there.
AND I got to meet my current sponsored student.
We talked, with a little help on words, and then her mother and 4-year-old brother showed up. Through translation, I learned her mother had worked all day and taken two buses to meet me and see her daughter. She said to me, “Educate my daughter.”
The trip was STUPENDOUS/AWESOME/CULTURALLY RICH/AND INTERFAITH ENHANCING
- Nancy Bruch is a member of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church (Excelsior, Minn.). This article was originally published in their publication "The Caller" and reprinted with their permission.