When I was teaching at a university in China, most of the dorms were located in the northwest section of the campus. The dorms were heavily populated, and to be honest with you, poorly illuminated in my opinion. At the end of each hall there were bathrooms with several sinks, mirrors, and toilets. There was one very important thing missing — would you like to know what it was?
The dormitories didn’t have any showers! To shower, the students would have to leave their dormitory and go to the nearby bathhouse. Check out the bathhouse in the photograph below!
Obviously this building has more than one floor, and that is good for separating the males and females. I believe the boys are on the first floor and the girls were on the second floor. Another interesting thing about the housing involves the teachers. If you were a single teacher, you were given a room in the dormitory. On the other hand, if the teacher was married, they were given an apartment. For the single teachers in the dormitory, they didn’t like going to the bathhouse with their students.
Many of the students had plastic basin that they would take to the bathroom to fill with water and then bring to their dorm room and wash up a little before they went to bed. By the way, the photo below is from one of the student’s room that had 13 people living in it! Did I mention earlier the dorms were heavily populated? This particular room was on the end of the building and larger than the other rooms.
While teaching at this university, I was always impressed by how clean the students were and their clothes. You guessed it: they didn’t have a place to wash their clothes on their hall either!
Please allow me the honor of introducing you to my new friend Bini Singh. Bini is one of the 20 elderly rural widows in India with health problems whom Global Partners in Life is trying to provide for and encourage. She is not exactly sure of her age, nor does she have any shoes! Would you like to meet her?
Originally, our meeting was scheduled to be on the second floor of the building where we met. But we realized that due to her health condition, Bini could not climb the stairs, so we relocated our meeting to the first floor.
Bini lives in an area where 55% of the females are illiterates. Day labor is the most common work for the males, and the husbands aren’t able to — or simply can’t afford to — make any financial arrangements for their wives, in the event of their dying before their wives. Their only hope is the oldest male son, and if he isn’t able to or won’t provide for his mother, then she is in a horrible situation.
Unfortunately, Bini has a curved back and bad legs, so she struggles just to walk. She uses a bamboo stick to stabilize herself.
I will add another photo or two of Bini as she was giving up hope of attending our meeting on the second floor. Hopelessness is a common emotional state for the widows we met and are trying to assist by building a facility where they can live, have meals prepared for them, have a medical room, get counseling, and have a meeting room where they can have fellowship with others.
As you can see in the photo below, Bini couldn’t climb the stairs, so she just laid down to have a rest. She was exhausted from traveling to the meeting and she had a cool floor to lie on, so she took advantage of it! The photo was taken from the second floor looking down the stairwell.
Global Partners in Life, along with the help of our partners in India, plan to break ground on the above mentioned facility this summer. We are trying to raise additional funding to complete the building and give these poor widows a roof over their heads, running water, and a place to call home!
If you would like to contribute, please visit our web site at globalpartnersinlife.org.
If you ever think you have traveled enough in your life so that nothing in a new culture will surprise you, don’t be shocked when it does happen. At least that was the case for me!
During my first trip to India, I was very surprised to learn of something they do in their culture that was unexpected, and caught me by surprise. Would you like to know what it was?
In the photo above, you can see a normal looking street-side restaurant in eastern India. The people would place their orders and wait for their food to be prepared in an outdoor kitchen. Once the patron had been served their order, they would eat their food standing around the restaurant amid the hustle and bustle of a busy street — but did you notice something in the foreground of the photograph?
In India, it is common for a restaurant to have a cooler setup with water in it and one glass for everyone to use! Now that alone may shock you, but there is a little more to it, and it isn’t as bad as germaphobic people may think. There are cultural norms for using the community cup, and the rules are very simple. Would you like to know about them?
The community cup is there for everyone to use; but when using the cup, it can never touch your lips! It is very interesting to watch people holding the community cup well above their mouths as they have their heads tilted and never spilling a drop. Honestly, I am relatively sure I would pour water all over my face and probably my shirt as well until I had some practice, but I never saw anyone using the cup ending up looking like they had a quick shower with their clothes on!
I found this little nugget of culture both interesting and entertaining. So, are you ready to drink from the community cup?
In my last blog about the work of Global Partners in Life, I shared about how we have a vision to build a facility for 20 elderly widows living in a rural area of India. On the day I got to meet the ladies in desperate need of assistance, they got to share their stories; and out of the 20, a few of them truly stood out and touched my heart. Would you like to meet one of them and hear her story?
This is Khanjagini Singh, and she is over 65 years of age, but we are not sure exactly how old she is. At one point after her husband died, she lived with her son. Unfortunately, must husbands don’t make any financial plans for their wives, so she had nothing when her husband died. In this rural area, there are not many good consistent jobs for the men, so most people are common day laborers when they can find work. Taking care of his mom was an unwanted financial burden for her son and his family.
When this situation was at the worst it could be, the son punched Khanjagini in the mouth and knocked out one of her teeth. That was the day the son kicked his mom, Khanjagini, out of his house!
As Khanjagini was telling us her stories, her facial expressions changed and she cried almost the entire time she spoke, so I know her son’s actions hurt her soul as well as her mouth. Some of the things we take for granted are a huge struggle for her, as she looks for clean water, food, medical care, and hope.
I will share a photo with you of Khanjagini as she told us about her son beating her and throwing her out of his home.
These ladies are in truly in need of assistance, and they live day to day not knowing where their next meal will come from or who is going to assist them. That is why it is so critical for Global Partners in Life to come to their aid.
Will you help us? Please visit our website and donate to such a worthy cause!
For my last trip to Asia, I was looking for the least expensive airfare I could find. The best rate had me going through Doha, Qatar, so I thought it would be nice to see a new country, and the trip was booked. My itinerary had me going from Doha, Qatar to Hyderabad, India. The flights went well, and so did my getting through customs in India, but that is when my travel plans fell apart!
I arrived in Hyderabad at about 1:00 AM and made it through customs easily and reclaimed my luggage. To check in for my next flight, I had to go outside and up to a ground level floor, where I was stopped by armed military men. I told them that I had just arrived and needed to check in for my next flight. One man with a rifle and pistol took my itinerary and walked off. His partner told me to wait by the door, and the guy with my paperwork was gone for almost 30 minutes — and then my new day turned for the worse!
When the man with the guns and my itinerary returned, he told me that my flight didn’t exist! Then his partner took my itinerary and passport and went to the ticket counter for my alleged flight. I could see him the entire time, unlike the first man; and he came right back and told me to go to the ticket counter at 8:30 to get booked for their next flight to my next city of Visakhapatnam, India. Finally, I was given my passport and itinerary and allowed to enter the airport!
My first stop was to the ticket counter, and they told me that my flight never existed, and they didn’t know how my travel agent booked the flight. I asked for their next flight, which was at about noon, so I had a very long layover in the Hyderabad airport. I did, however, make a new friend — would you like to see?
Yes, that pigeon decided to share breakfast with me! I had seen other flights on other airlines leaving before my flight, so I asked at the counter about a reciprocal relationship with the airlines so I could get on an earlier flight, and I was told that there were no relationships like that with their airline . . . so I waited . . . and waited. Oh, did I mention I had a long wait?
When it was finally late enough for me to work my way to the gate, I saw a sign that was extremely ironic and even painfully funny at the time. I will show it to you below!
So, the airport where I had been somewhat detained by armed military men that took my itinerary and passport, booked on a nonexistent flight, and had about an 11 hour layover had been chosen as the number one airport in the world. Wow, I would have hated to have seen the worst airport in the world!
Oh well, when you travel, you have to be prepared to have things (some good and some not so good) occur that are out of your control. Trust me, you will have much less stress and frustration if you accept what you can’t control and try to make the best of the new situation!
During a recent trip to India, I had the honor of meeting 20 widows in a lovely, but very rural, area called Gumma. These ladies were all 60 years of age or older, live in this rural area, do not receive the assistance needed from their families, and have various health issues. Would you like to see them?
On this day, our partner, A Good Shepherd Ministry, had arranged for the ladies to meet us and share their life stories. I heard stories of health concerns, abandonment, and even physical abuse from family members; but the most common theme, I am sorry to say, was hopelessness.
In the local culture, a widow should live with her oldest son, and he should provide for her. Unfortunately, in this area there are very few opportunities for consistent employment, so most of the men are day laborers to provide what they can for their families. Having another person in their home puts an additional and unwanted burden on the sons of these widows. These ladies can’t live with their daughters, because once the daughters are married, they are considered to have left their family and joined the husband’s family.
Another interesting cultural issue is how elderly widows are perceived. It is considered bad luck to look on the face of one of these elderly widows, so the widows aren’t even invited to a family birthday party!
On this day, we gave the ladies a big meal, new clothes, and a small amount of pocket money. We also shared with them that A Good Shepherd Ministry and Global Partners in Life have a vision of building a facility that will house 20 of them with a kitchen where 3 meals a day will be prepared, a dining area, rooms for 4 ladies with a bathroom, meeting rooms, counseling, and hopefully some medical attention.
In the future, you will hear much more about this project! Thanks to the people that contribute to Global Partners in Life so we could provide food, clothing, and encouragement for these poor elderly widows!
On my last trip to Asia, the best airfare I could find had me going through Doha, Qatar, on Qatar Air. I thought it would be interesting to see a new country, so I was pleased to find an inexpensive flight, and it was booked. Would you like to see Doha?
My apologies for the quality of this photo, but since it is so hot in Qatar, all of the windows to the exterior of the airport were treated to block some of the sun. I can’t imagine how hot it gets there during their summer months! Hopefully you can make out some of the tall buildings in the background. This photo doesn’t display how large an area Doha’s skyscrapers occupied, but trust me, it was expansive.
During my flight to Qatar, I found it interesting that one of the options on your personal entertainment screen was the Quran. Also, when I arrived in the Doha airport, I learned that women had a separate prayer room from men, as you can see from the sign suspended from the ceiling. Obviously I don’t know much at all about the culture in Qatar!
Doha’s airport was modern and clean, and it had several play areas for children. One of the interesting observances I had while there were all of the upscale shopping options. Also, within the airport, very tall palm trees were growing. One person told me that most of the hourly workers at the Doha airport were people from Syria. I don’t know if that was true or not, but the person that told me this has traveled extensively, so I believed him.
So far my trip was going well. But you will need to read my blog scheduled for the 15th of June to see if my good fortune continued!
In 2018 when I tried to visit the area of China where Mrs. Xu, the widow Global Partners in Life has supported the longest, lives, there was a surprise snow storm, so I was unable to visit. I was told my flight to the city may make it in, but there was no way I would make it out, so I decided not to go.
A few weeks ago I returned to China, and I went to visit Mrs. Xu. In the photo above, she is the lady on the right. Unfortunately, she had some bad health news!
What I didn’t know is that Mrs. Xu had been having a thyroid problem, and her physician told her she needed surgery. Mrs. Xu didn’t have the money for the operation, so she had no plan other than her prayers.
Since I hadn’t seen Mrs. Xu in 2018, when I saw her a few weeks ago I had our financial support from 2018 and 2019! Mrs. Xu was extremely thankful to receive the gift from the generous donors of Global Partners in Life, because now she had enough money for the simple procedure she needed to have done.
When she visited the surgeon, he told her there was one medicine he wanted to try before doing surgery. Mrs. Xu started taking the new drug, and her condition is improving! For now, there is no surgery scheduled for her!
For Mrs. Xu, I want to extend a huge thank you to the people that are so generous to Global Partners in Life and enable us to help a widow in China with a medical need she couldn’t provide for by herself!
Truly, helping someone in need is an amazingly good feeling!
Recently I returned from a trip in China right after their Spring Festival, which marks the start of their Lunar New Year. As you may know, there are a dozen characters that make up the revolving zodiac representatives of each new year. Many in China can tell your age, if you tell them which zodiac animal represented the year in which you were born. Would you like to know which year’s animal represented the year in which I was born?
That is right! I was born in the year of the pig! Can you see the resemblance? With my eating habits and the way I kept my college room, well, the irony is overwhelming!
Pigs are apparently playful, as you can see here and in the next photo! Who knew?
The culture in China would dictate that I wear the color red often this entire year. You should have good luck when it is the year of the animal representing the year you were born, and you should wear red clothes frequently! That enhances your good luck, and maybe people will notice this is your year!
Oh, and one last photo of a cool pig indeed!
Happy Year of the Pig!
Most of my blogs about the work of Global Partners in Life are centered around orphans and special needs orphans we support. We are not limited to only serving the children, and we also serve another demographic group. Do you know who they are?
Global Partners in Life has been supporting widows in China, and after my first visit to India, we started assisting widows in India as well. Would you like to hear more about them?
When we entered the slums, I was introduced to a widow who had lost her husband to tuberculosis. She has 5 daughters, and the youngest girl is a deaf-mute. It is believed surgery would restore the little girl’s hearing, and that would help her to become verbal, but the mom can’t afford the surgery. Nineteen days before we arrived, the winds and rain from the monsoon season literally ripped their home in half. In the photo above, you can see the debris field left from their home being destroyed.
Not too long after I returned home from the trip, India was hit with a devastating cyclone named Titli. As you can see in the photo above, there was widespread flooding and damaged homes of widows living in the slums.
Through the contributions from the wonderful supporters of Global Partners in Life, we were able to provide care packages and desperately needed supplies for the widows that lost their homes and possessions from the cyclone!
After I learned more about the widow’s situations, I told my friend in India it was on my heart to provide a permanent structure above the flood zone for the widows. My friend told me that was also on his heart, so we are making plans to provide a facility for the widows in India. I look forward to telling you more about this project as it develops!