India: Learning through Living with the Poor

In India, two thirds of the people live in poverty. Over 30 percent are considered as extremely poor. Pastors from the Church of South India stand by them and support them with their problems. But for them, it is also a strain dealing with the difficult life conditions of their fellow countrymen.

On the one hand, India now ranks third on the list of the world's largest economies. On the other hand, over 750 million Indians are affected by poverty. The gap between rich and poor is enormous.
The opposites are also noticeable in Madurai. With over a million inhabitants, Madurai is the third largest city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. About 30 percent of inhabitants live in slums on the outskirts of the city. Most of them are day labourers who have no fixed income. Due to financial uncertainty and living on the fringes of society, there is a very high rate of violence, especially against women and migrants.

Living next door to slum dwellers

The Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary has therefore started a special semester of practical work. In the second year of study, theological students are sent to various slums in Madurai. There, they live in small groups, door to door with the slum dwellers. In this way, students learn at first hand about the fears and worries the people have. This special practical work also benefits the slum dwellers since they receive care and support and get to know the budding theologists who experience at close quarters what it feels like to live in a slum. The students learn all about survival strategies. At the same time, they support the people with pastoral care and try to bring about some improvement in their living and working conditions as best they can.

Once a week, the students meet to talk about what they have experienced. In addition, there are monthly meetings with representatives of the non-organised labourers. Together the team discusses ideas and ways to improve the living and working conditions of the slum dwellers.

Your donation helps slum dwellers in Madurai receive a voice to publicise their plight.

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