This week, Harvest India begins our annual salute to the women and young ladies of India. It’s time to celebrate Free to Be Me!
Over the next few weeks, the #FreeToBeMe campaign will share life stories of our friends, young and old. You will meet young girls in our orphanages, students from our elementary schools and colleges, and several sweet women from our elderly homes and leprosy ministry. We will wrap up our celebration on March 8th as we join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. This is our way of saying thanks to the women of India, of all ages, for being courageous and strong, and living lives filled with promise and hope.
India is a country filled with energy and diversity. One would imagine its booming economy and complex ethnicity would be filled with opportunity for all. Unfortunately, the stark reality is India is one of the most discriminatory and exclusionary cultures of all nations. Its ever-present social hierarchy creates social barriers that make it nearly impossible to succeed unless you fit into a specific group or Caste.
To make matters worse, women are the most discriminated Indian group of all. They face persecution, abuse, and discrimination unlike any other place in the free world. Recently, Open Doors International rated India as the tenth most dangerous place in the world for Christian people. This danger is even more extreme for Christian, Dalit women. Considered pariahs or Untouchables, Dalit, Christian women face unimaginable physical and emotional abuse every day. They live under a harsh veil of fear and abuse for simply being a woman believer.
The ladies of Harvest India are able to tell a different story. It is the story of hope. They are rising up against the violence and social barriers in India. With faith in Jesus and a strong education, these women can combat hatred and discrimination. These important tools allow young women to rise above the stigma of the Caste and fill their lives with courage and fortitude.
They are free to dream, free to live, free to laugh, and free to love. They are no longer chained to the past. They have bright and promising futures. They are free! Free to be me!
Harvest India Executive Director Mark Hubbard