What They’re Learning in Their Time Apart
Staff have learned a significant amount of information about the children they serve in India the last several months. While some work stateside and patiently waiting to return to India, they meet virtually with all the children who call the Back2Back campus home, as well as with the Hope Education Program students.
“I’ve spent more time with the Hope Education students now than ever before,” Hanna FIrstenberger, Back2Back staff, explained. Hanna has learned their highs and lows of 2020 so far; their highs held a central theme – more time with their biological families than they’ve ever experienced before. Divya*, a Hope student, shared, “From birth, I have never spent so much time with my family. When I was one and two-years old I was with them, but I don’t remember that. Then I was sent away and I have never had time with them. Every holiday I come home, but it is short and my mother would cry. I have had seven months with my mom and I am so happy about that.”
Another child, Dev*, is learning the art of fishing from his father. Every morning, before sunrise, Dev and his father fish in order to help provide dinner each night. He is learning how to tie different knots with fishing wire and about the various fishes he has caught. “It has been a time of bonding for me with my dad,” he recently shared.
Their lows of 2020 were also similar – they are missing the caregivers, staff, and other children on campus who have become like family to them. This year has been an adjustment in many ways, to many people, but for the children served in India, it has been a large change in scenery and who is in their day-to-day lives.
Recently, with the purchase of tablets, the children are able to have time with their caregivers, again, through virtual tutoring and school lessons. It gives both the children and caregivers the opportunity to connect, and the children have reported to staff that caregivers are also taking the time to practice their English skills!
“I did a similar interview with the caregivers, asking how campus is without the children and what they’re celebrating and missing,” shared Hanna. “They are all excited to be stepping into a more formal teaching role and are enjoying the time they’re reading their Bibles together, as well.”
While there is much they are missing, there is an equal amount for which the children and caregivers are thankful. Together, they are learning this time apart, though not what they would’ve chosen, is helping each of them grow in relationship, in their time with God, and in their care for each other. We think this is worthy of celebration.
Visits from “Home”
Staff are maintaining contact with the children in these unique times. Recently, staff members, Gideon and Amos, traveled two hours from the Back2Back campus to visit with the children in their home villages.
It was a time of connection, catching up, and making sure each of their tablets were still working well as they dive into new learning strategies to stay on track with school. This is just one example of how dedicated staff remain in the face of changes and new protocols. Please join us in prayer that these visits remind each child they are known and loved, even when they are not seen every day.
Classroom in a Truck
The Strong Families Program in India has allowed staff to witness the dedication of the students who are given fresh opportunities to pursue their educational dreams. Even when school went virtual for the students, they remained focused on their studies and asked for helping when it was needed.
Adya*, a young girl in the program, shows a lot of interest in learning different languages and doesn’t miss any classes. If her mobile data, how she takes part in virtual classes, runs out, she will go to friends’ houses nearby to make sure she can attend class. When she is home and able to use her own data, she uses her father’s garbage truck as her classroom. This allows her privacy to focus on her lessons and not be distracted by noises or others in her home.
This is a testament to what the gift of education means to children who call the slums of India home – it isn’t just fresh lessons every day, it’s an open doorway to their futures, and they’re not willing to miss any second of it.