Multivitamins, beans make a difference
DELHI, India (BP) -- As the scorching sun blazes on the parched earth, the women gather in the small school building for the monthly Bread of Life presentation.
As they entered the building, smiles and greetings of "Namaste" and "Jai Masih ki" filled the room.
Over the past few months, these mothers have heard lessons on how to take care of their families at Bread of Life, a nutritional support program that provides preventive health lessons and food rations each month to extremely low weight children under the age of 5.
Each month the children are weighed and given a health assessment. For simple diseases such as ear infections, worms and diarrhea, they are given medication. For more complicated diseases, they are referred to a local clinic. They are given multivitamins, along with dried beans and lentils, rice, oil and soap.
As the women gather, storytellers in the group are eager to get started on this month's lesson about the dangers of extreme heat. All the mothers know about children suffering in hot weather.
During the summer, water is scarce and daily temperatures rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Without electricity, families look for ways to escape the heat. Almost everyone sleeps on their rooftops or on charpais (woven rope beds) in front of their makeshift homes.
Many of the family homes consist of a small room, perhaps 5x7 feet, and a small outdoor area for cooking. Only a few families have a latrine. The water supply is a hand pump shared by about 50 families. Although health workers noticed several skin diseases this particular month, they saw few cases of diarrhea. The mothers had learned how to provide clean water for their families.
In an effort to follow Christ's command to take care of widows and orphans, a widow has been added to the program. She lives alone, without any income. She fell last year, breaking her arm, and it healed badly. Now she cannot use it much at all.
The widow belongs to a Hindu people group with tattoos on their bodies.
"These tattoos are to remind me of where I've been as I enter the next life," she explained.
At almost 80, she had never heard the name Jesus before she received help from His followers at Bread of Life. Now, with a toothless grin, she is welcomed by the team as she arrives without her cane and wearing a new sari. She eagerly joins the other women to hear the lesson and listens with rapt attention to the Bible story that follows.
More than having physical needs met, these families have heard from followers of Jesus. They have heard stories from God's Word and have seen the love of Christ through the workers.
Those who serve through Bread of Life continue to pray for nearby communities, knowing the Holy Spirit is the only one who can transform lives.
Josie Gabdon directs the Bread of Life project in Delhi, India.