Tears run down her face as Bamni recalls the death of her husband.
She tells us that he was working in the field one day when he was bit by a snake. With no doctors around, he eventually succumbed to the bite, leaving Bamni solely responsible for raising her four children.
In the rural hills of Jharkhand, visiting this village is a welcome relief from the hectic and loud streets of India’s congested cities. But a deeper look reveals the difficulty of life here. It took two hours to arrive at this small village; one hour of driving and then another hiking. The rocky path led continuously uphill in the hot Indian sun, through streams and along steep slopes.
The remoteness of this place means that there are few social services. There isn’t any running water and limited electricity. No roads or supermarkets. No gas stations or medical clinics.
The families who live here are part of the Malto tribe, a marginalized group of people who have been forced to retreat to the hilltops. Most live in extreme poverty, relying on rain-fed agriculture and livestock rearing to make a living. Often, families suffer from malnutrition and disease. And you can see it in their size; most appear to be around five feet tall. The average life-expectancy here is in the early 50s.
But despite the remoteness, we’re pleasantly surprised upon arrival. At the end of the road and up the hill is a small local church. As we enter the village we are warmly greeted with song and dance. The whole village enters the church, and we begin to worship together. Their hospitality is beautiful.
Bamni goes on to explain how difficult life was after the death of her husband. To help, her teenage son left the village to take up daily work in Delhi – 1,500kms away – but she hasn’t heard from him in months.
In the face of these challenges, Bamni is brave. She works hard to provide for her remaining children at home and smiles when talking about them attending school. She looks forward to the day when they will graduate and have a better life.
Through Tearfund and its church partner, EFICOR, donors like you are coming alongside her to help. Despite the remoteness, COVID-19 had an effect here too, reducing economic activity and restricting travel to town. To help, donors like you funded work programs, providing Bamni with additional work on community projects so that she could earn an income and feed her family. It even allowed her to upgrade her home.
But it isn’t just Bamni. As part of a six-year project, donors like you have helped members of the Malto community slowly climb out of poverty through training in agriculture and water management. As a result, families are growing more food for themselves, providing them with more to eat and even sell in neighbouring towns. It’s amazing to see the progress—one villager even has a fridge now!
Bamni has had a hard life, but she is resilient and has lots of hope. Her smiles are bigger than her tears. And at the centre of is all is the local church, which is the catalyst for change.