I just received this very moving story from Crossroads Foundation, telling us how a small contribution can make such a huge difference to people’s lives.
Bhavani is a 42 year old fisherwoman who lives on the coast of southeast India. Her family was, for years, totally dependent on the sea for its livelihood. Bhavani’s husband Muthu sailed out to sea each morning at 4:00 and Bhavani sold his catch at the local market. It was a precarious existence, however, and, as the family grew and their needs increased, the fish became more and more scarce. The income from Bhavani’s daily market sales was not enough to meet their needs for food, medicine and school fees. They had no option but to take out loans from a local moneylender who, typical of their kind, charged impossible rates of interest whilst intimidating those who could not pay. Bhavani could not keep up with the wildly inflated demands and she was terrified of the repercussions. She felt her family sink further and further into desperation, seeing no way out.
By way of background, Bhavani’s tribespeople live in southern India on sloping hillsides, in valleys, on the periphery of forests, as well as by the sea. They are marginalised and many do not have an official identity, are unable to vote and are cut off from other basic rights. Like most of her people, Bhavani has no access to electricity, clean water or formal healthcare whilst tuberculosis, skin infections and alcohol-related illnesses frequently claim their lives. Discrimination or lack of formal identity documents prevent children from getting into school and many fathers, like their fathers before them, are trapped in modern-day slavery, working without proper pay in rice mills. Continue reading