We visited Kalavai while we were in India this June. Kalavai is a small village of the Untouchable caste in India. This visit marked us as a family in ways we will never forget. Playing with the kids in this village was a highlight for our girls. I have treasured this photo of Maddie with girls from Kalavai. It has been my screen saver for several weeks.
We had a GCC team go back to Kalavai a few weeks ago, and they brought back very sad news about Monjue, the stunningly beautiful girl in the green and pink sari. Dan Blacketor wrote a note about her on his Facebook page:
Monjue is a young bright 15-year old girl who lost hope for a better future.
Monjue lives in the small Irala colony located just outside of Kalavai, India. I'm beginning to better understand that my agenda is many times not God's primary purpose. You see, I had the chance to lead a team from Granger Community Church to help build a community center, hold conversational English classes and start a micro business in this village. To ensure everything was in place for the team I arrived a few days early to meet with our Indian ground team on Thursday, July 30th. Our plan was to organize the job site so the team would have a great experience. Because Raj (our Indian director) was having neck problems he decided to go directly to Kalavai instead of making the 6 hour trip to meet me at Bangalore airport.
If Monjue was born in the United States she would probably be strongly considering submitting college applications to places like Notre Dame, Stanford or Columbia University. But on this Thursday morning, Monjue picked some poisonous berries and went back to her family's hut and ate them and waited to die. Her best friend found Monjue and ran to the construction site to see if anyone could help save Monjue's life. Raj was there because he had a stiff neck, was preparing for my early arrival and because of these series of events helped save Monjue's life.
You see, Monjue had given up at the age of 15. Her father had left the family six months prior. Her mother had to sell their family's small goat herd to buy food. Her mom was then "contracted" to watch someone else's herd with compensation coming in the form of a baby goat – but only when it was a twin birth. Monjue left school to watch the goats so her mother could look for day labor (and at best earns 80 cents per day if hired) to buy enough food to feed the family. Goat only gives a single birth, Monjue's mom is frustrated, believes Monjue should have taken the goats to "greener pastures" and takes it out on Monjue by beating her. Monjue gives up and tries to kill herself.
A week to the day that Monjue tried to end her life we were visiting her as she watched over the herd. It was over 100 degrees and only 10:30 in the morning. No shade anywhere and because of the lack of rain it was very dry and not a lot of grass to be found. We ask Monjue what she thinks about on these long hot days while watching over someone else's herd. Monjue sits down and begins to quietly cry. She shares that she thinks about going to school and learning so that she might have a better life but realizes this is not a reality in her world. She must watch the goats so her mom can go to town each day in the hope of making less than a dollar for a day's work.
I’m not sure how to help Monjue from here. Part of me was so sad to tell this news to Maddie and Whitney, but I am glad I did. It brought reality back home to all of us again. We will pray for Monjue, and are so thankful that GCC has chosen Kalavai as a laser target to bring God’s hope and light.