Life was getting busy. Friends invited friends and the community was growing. There were people from just about every walk of life coming into our lives. There were international staff and students from Woodstock School who were highly educated. There were also tribal people from remote villages who were illiterate. Somehow we managed to communicate. Our main language was love and it wasn’t just verbal. It was tangible. We really loved each other.
Within weeks of arriving in India, God did an amazing thing in my South African heart. We were driving around and I was struggling with thoughts I never knew I had. It was as if I was better than the people on the street. We weren’t equal. I was here to help them. They were all in one big box; all part of the mass of humanity. No one stood out. They all looked the same. I never considered myself to be a racist. I had friends of all colours and nationalities, but there was still something there; like a deep root. It was affecting the way I was seeing the masses. I could see crowds but not individuals. I cried out to God. I told him I could not and did not want to live with such thoughts.
Then I saw a man riding on his bicycle next to our car. I looked at his face. I saw what he was wearing. I took a long hard look at his feet. I suddenly saw him as a father; as a husband going home to his wife. I tried to imagine what he had been doing all day. I wondered what his dreams might be about. It was a revelation.
It was as if a cataract had been taken from my heart. Everyone looked different. The root was gone. It was a miracle. I was so grateful. I wasn’t better than “them”. I wasn’t God’s gift to Indians. They were a gift to me. I wasn’t going to be doing all the teaching. I was going to learn way more than I could ever have imagined. I would be giving, but receiving so much more.
Tony was having chai at Chaar Dukan. A man was introduced to him and it was friendship at first handshake. Tony came home and told me all about Sunil and Pam Sardar. I was so excited to meet them. They popped in for coffee with their little girl Rebekah who was just two years old. She was the tiniest cutest thing we had seen. Her tiny pierced ears fascinated Asha and Zoë. That was the beginning of a great and challenging friendship.
Sunil worked with dalits in Central India. He was a social reformer, fighting for the rights of farmers and untouchables. His passion was to see the caste system destroyed and all men given equality. We were challenged by his passion. Every time we met with them, we felt our hearts moved with compassion for the poor. He was sold out to see them liberated and finding justice.
We spent days and hours talking. As we did, our love for India grew. At times we felt our hearts would burst. It was so good to know there were people all over India, dreaming the same dream. There was no way any of us could do it alone. We all needed all the help we could get. Knowing that the dream came from God gave us the hope and courage we all so desperately needed.