The Indian Adventure

We have an exciting report this month of the work being done in India by the quite remarkable Tom Sutherland, the Australian whose work there we support. The director has had the rare chance to visit Tom and see his work in action - and reports being amazed at it.

"I'm beginning to get an idea of what it must have been like around Jesus," said Ron Prosser in some bewilderment on his return. "Tom is famous - he's badgered every day, all day, by people wanting him to help them and needing medical treatment."

Ron was accompanied by Rev. Nigel Douglas, who was also in for hard work on the trip. "Nigel had never given a sermon a day before! He prayed over literally hundreds of people - as soon as people heard he was a pastor, they all wanted to come up and pray with him."

Followers of Tom Sutherland's super series of stories from India will be delighted to hear of the entertaining sequel to his recent tale of Shamala and Suji, in which an 11-year-old who needed heart surgery was treated by a combination of kind and charitable doctors, a generous Hindu pharmacist, and several HHI supporters. The director's printshop has turned some of Tom's stories into little books, and noticed that in 'And Then Shamala Laughed' , Tom chided the mother by saying: "I'm going to write it all down, and it will be published, and everyone in England will know, including the Queen, how you cried and how every five minutes you keep on crying."

Well, once Tom had said that, there was only one thing to do - so the director sent a copy to Buckingham Palace -- and look what came back!

Dear Mr. Prosser,

I am writing to thank you for your letter for sending a copy of the booklet 'And Then Shamala Laughed' for The Queen to see. I am to tell you that Her Majesty was interested to hear how your organisation helped Shamala's daughter, Suji, recover her health, and I am to thank you for your kind thought in writing as you did.

Yours sincerely,
Susan Hussey,

There is a fascinating postscript to this little story. Last month, the director was in India, and was taken to meet Shamala and Suji. The whole village turned out to greet him.

"And what did Shamala do?" reported Ron. "She cried - but with joy!"

And the Rev Douglas writes his own report....

Imagine paddling in the waves of the warm Arabian Sea at a long sandy beach on the coast of Kerala, south India. It sounds like a dream holiday! Well that's what I found myself doing one day when Ron Prosser and I went to India for a week to report back on the work that HHI supports there. But this was no holiday - it was far better than that!

For on either side of me, holding my hands, were two children from the Karuyana (which means 'mercy') home which is one of HHI's latest projects in India. These were Mitven, a lively ten year old boy, and Febi, a happy ten year old girl, and together we laughed and splashed as the waves swept up the beach and swirled around our legs.

It was a miracle that these children were so happy, for they were abandoned children. They had been rejected by their parents and had been taken in by three remarkable women, Thankachi, Beena and Asha, who together had rented a house in Trivandrum and taken in children who had nowhere to live and no one to care for them.

At present there are eleven children staying there. The home relies entirely on voluntary donations to feed and clothe the children and to pay the rent. HHI is glad to be able to meet the childrens' medical expenses by sending a donation of £100 per quarter.

When Ron and I visited Karuyana we arranged to take the children on an outing to the beach.
The day of the outing began early when Ron and I arrived at the home by auto-rickshaw at 8 am. Together with the children and the staff we settled into a hired minibus and set off.

We had a long journey ahead of us because we had been invited to visit a church near Kollam, where we would have a time of worship and some lunch, before driving on to the beach at Tangasseri. As we travelled along the busy road the children sang songs and shouted out to Ron and me whenever they saw an elephant by the side of the road.

We eventually arrived at the beach in the mid-afternoon and the first thing we did was to buy ice creams for the children - and also for a number of other children on the beach who decided to join us (but at 10 rupees, about 15p, for a tub of ice-cream we didn't mind buying a few extra!). Then we went down to the water's edge and played among the waves.

Eventually, as the sun began to sink over the ocean, it was time for us to return to the minibus and set out for home. The children sang for a while until, exhausted, they fell asleep, and it was after dark when we arrived back safely at Karuyana. It was a very happy day for all of us.

Karuyana is a very special place. I can say that because I saw the quality of the staff, and because I saw and heard how happy the children were. But I can also say that because of one little incident that I will never forget.

The most recent child to come to the home was Vinod, who had been rescued from the streets and brought to Karuyana only a few days previously. Vinod is mentally retarded, is small and, because of his weak hand and sore leg, he had difficulty getting down from the high step of the minibus. On this occasion he was the last to get off and, as I went to help him, I saw Mitven run back, help Vinod down, take him by the hand and lead him on to the beach to join the others - one abandoned child caring for another. And that is the quality of the love that is being shown and learnt at Karuyana.

"Stortrum, stortrum, stortrum!" came the happy cry of the congregation when Ron and I led worship on a Saturday morning at a little village church at Parruthippura colony, a poor settlement about ten miles from Trivandrum, south India.

The church was only a hut with roof and walls of woven palm leaves, but it was clean and tidy and the congregation of twenty five men, women and children were glad to meet together to rejoice in the Lord. 'Stortrum!' means 'Praise the Lord!' and our hearts were overflowing with praise as for nearly two hours we sang, prayed and shared the treasures of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The pastor of the church, a young man with a wife and three children, is one of the 'Tentmakers,' a group of pastors who meet together once a week to do craft work and earn some money to support their families. These pastors live and work with the poorest people in the Trivandrum district of Kerala. Doing valuable work of evangelism amongst the lowest caste and tribal peoples, these pastors share in the poverty of their communities and the discrimination that exists in Indian society against Christians. The pastors and their families barely manage to survive. They suffer much in their service, so we are glad to be able to help them in their ministry by sending a regular donation to the 'Tentmakers' to be used to meet medical expenses for the pastors and their families.

"Yes, of course we would be glad to help Brother Tom!" This was the enthusiastic response of two young and highly qualified doctors, husband and wife, Dr Joe and Dr Biji. We were talking to them in the pleasant surroundings of their home on the outskirts of Trivandrum while their young son played happily on the floor.

We were there because Tom Sutherland, whose work amongst the poorest people in southern Kerala is supported by HHI, had suggested that they would be helpful medical advisers for his work. Brother Tom is famous throughout the area for the help he gives to needy people and these two doctors were happy to help him by advising on requests for medical assistance.

Together with a ward sister from Trivandrum General Hospital, and Philip from the Banyan Tree project, they will form a committee to help Tom, and oversee the use of the money that HHI sends out for Tom to use to help poor and sick people in Trivandrum and the surrounding area.