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Melissa, CVT
"To the Ends of the Earth"

December 2017

Dear friends,

A feeling of normalcy has finally returned to the Darjeeling Hills area where I live. Three months of political unrest and the shutdown of all business, schools and transportation was quite disruptive and economically disastrous. Everyone is praying that things will remain peaceful and that the locals here can go on with their lives and move on from the setbacks they faced during this trying time. I recently had the chance to return to Broken Stone Village after having been away since June. The path was so damaged from the monsoon rains that we had to walk over an hour to get to the village. As I talked with people and got caught up with news from the last few months, my heart broke to hear the stories they told. Here are some of my village friend’s accounts of their struggles during the political strike:

Rangmit: She is a mother of two little boys and her husband is a farmer and day labor worker, earning money doing odd jobs around the village. They own less than an acre of land on which they farm hot peppers, cardamom, and a plant used to makes brooms. They also have a few goats and chickens. Rangmit and her family are believers and I have gotten to know her quite well since she has been coming to a women’s Bible study that I have been leading. She told me that the strike was especially difficult for them because they didn’t have a market to sell their peppers so they lost a lot of potential income. The price of food staples also tripled because of the lack of transportation and no one had any money to pay her husband for daily labor so for three months they had zero income. She said during the middle of the strike her youngest son had a bad case of pneumonia but there were no vehicles to get to a hospital. Her husband ended up walking for two days to get to a nearby town so he could buy antibiotics! There were two other families in the village who lost their 4 and 5 year old children because they couldn’t get them to the hospital.

 
Rangmit and her two sons

Rangmit is the treasurer of the small committee we set up in the village to do our goat breeding project. During this visit to the village, I met with the committee members to ask how the goat project was going. Last year we distributed goats to 16 families and now it is time to pass on the offspring to other families. The committee told us that the goat project is going very well because the offspring are healthy and bigger than the local goats. The price of goat meat is very high, which makes raising them a very profitable enterprise. The committee spent some time choosing which needy families to pass the offspring onto and in the end decided to give one male goat kid to Rangmit and her family to raise for meat. She was so happy to receive this news. She only has to pay 20% of the price of the goat to the committee now and then another 20% when she slaughters the goat or sells it and she keeps the rest. The committee then takes the money and saves it to invest in a good quality buck that the village can use in the future. Slowly over time, the hope is that the genetics and health of the goats in the village will improve and the villagers can have a steady source of income to help pay medical and school fees. The committee also plans to give goats to families who otherwise would not be able to come up with the funds so it is a form of charity as well.

Stephen: He is one of the guys I trained over a year ago to be an animal health worker in Broken Stone Village. He has shown incredible enthusiasm for the work and has a very teachable spirit. He lives with his wife, 3 year old son and mother and father on about an acre of land. They also grow peppers, cardamom and broom plant. He said that during the strike they also lost a lot of money because they couldn’t sell their peppers. They also went a few weeks without rice because there was no way to buy it. Fortunately, they raise some local vegetables on their land so they didn’t starve. During the strike, he contemplated many times moving to the city so that he could make some money to support his family. But in the end, his love for the village kept him there and he decided just to wait it out and try to survive off what little they produced on their land. As we were talking, he said that during the strike he walked to a nearby village across the river one day to see how people were faring. He noticed at that time how sickly their animals looked. So now, he wants to start working in this other village as well doing animal health training and a deworming and vaccination program. He also said that during the strike one of his Buddhist neighbors called him because their cow was sick. When he went to visit the cow he didn’t have any medicines because he had ran out so he offered to pray to Jesus for the cow’s healing. The next morning his neighbor called and said that the cow had completely recovered and was eating and standing again! Stephen laughed as he told his story, saying that now all his Buddhist neighbors are going to be calling him asking for prayer for their cows!

 
Stephen and his wife Sajuka in their kitchen

When you remember to pray for me and my ministry here please also pray for the people of Broken Stone Village. I love these people so much and carry them on my heart when I am away from them. If you would like to contribute this Christmas season to my goat project in Broken Stone village you can give here https://cvmusa.org/donate-now/sps?CampName=UCVASPS2113. Just write “Himalayan Livelihood Project, Melissa White” in the comments section.  Thanks for your support as I continue to serve here in the Himalayan foothills.

Melissa

 

Melissa 
melitty@gmail.com

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