Walking with the 'Just God'.
Something to think about
My conviction of journeying with poor and excluded people and communities is driven by my faith and gender. My faith teaches me 'love your neighbour', and take the side of the poor and excluded in their struggle for liberation and justice. My gender taught me to continuously speak out for equity and equality. I am a follower of Christ and that is why I am in this vocation since 1987.
However, in the early 90s, I was accidentally made to manage a project working with sex workers on HIV prevention. I was very uncomfortable. I could not come to terms with it for six months, as I was more comfortable working with women in need in slums and women who faced violence.
My struggle was answered by the bible. When I read in John chapter 8 about how my Christ dealt with the Woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). That example of Christ taught me, you are not here to judge anyone, you are being sent here to be a catalyst, to change things for the better.
Today the whole world is celebrating International Women’s Day. But, today I remember the women and girls who are forced to clean and carry human excreta from dry latrines, it is not their choice, but just because they are born into a particular caste or community.
This dehumanising practice, known as manual scavenging, is prevalent across India, where I live and work. It is not only a humiliating practice but a major cause of discrimination and is keeping these women and their families in poverty. This age-old practice made me disheartened when I joined Christian Aid in 2005. Being born and brought up in a city, I hadn’t really understood how deep rooted this caste system is in my country. Or how it is systematically and structurally keeping communities in poverty.
Christian Aid is supporting a partner organisation called SKA to eradicate manual scavenging from the country. I am glad to be part of it and to make it history. Whatever consequences we may face to end this inhuman practice we will continue, as disciples of our God, and carry the cross. This means giving one’s life for a cause, speaking about truth and justice for the oppressed and excluded in our countries.
What is it that we really mean when we pray ‘thy kingdom come on earth as it in heaven’? We are sent into the world with a purpose. If my neighbour is suffering inequality, discrimination and injustices, will I be quiet? I believe God has created all equal and cannot be partial with that faith and so I continue to work and many times to fight for equality in this world. But still with hope.
Something to pray
I thank you for all our supporters who share their love and support for your mission, for why you have sent your son, our beloved Christ to this world. We learn from him why we were also brought into this world. How to be his disciples and address hypocrisy. Lord our God, I pray to you when the world is celebrating International Women‘s Day. I want to see no women and girls engaging in manual scavenging but instead having a dignified life, since you have created all equal. I strongly believe your creation cannot be discriminated by caste and gender as you created all of us equal. For if we want to be your disciples we are renouncing all that we possess, not only materials of this world but all we possess in our pride and attitude.
Today's contributor is Semeda Steves. Semeda is a professional social worker and trained family counsellor, working with marginalised and excluded communities in India for the last 30 years. Her passion and commitment is working with women from the communities, who face violence and discrimination, in their struggle for justice and life with dignity.