“Our family lived in a tent made of plastic tarpaulin and mud. Because of the scarcity of water we were able to yield little from our land and thus worked for daily wages in other people’s fields. We also sold firewood and leaves we could collect from the forest to ensure food for our family.”
This is what life was like for Rani Singh* after her family were caught up in some anti-Christian riots back in August 2008. A wave of communal violence engulfed Christians in Odisha (formerly known as Orissa); 120 people were killed and 50,000 people displaced. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as ‘a shame on the nation’.
Hari and Rani’s hut, where they had to live after the riots in 2008 forced them from their home.
The violence was triggered after the death of Swami Laxmanananda, a leading Hindu extremist who had been encouraging anti-Christians activity for years. He was killed by a Maoist guerrilla group, but his supporters were convinced that Christians were responsible, and went on a rampage within hours of his death.
Rani, her husband Hari* and their son Sandeep* lost everything in the riots and struggled to make ends meet. “We had to leave the little we had and flee to the nearby jungle during the attack. Our house with all our belongings and some grain stock we had saved was burnt completely. My bicycle was taken away too,” says Hari.
Open Doors partners acted immediately to support the victims of this violence with food, shelter, medical assistance, trauma care and legal aid, and continue to provide long-term support to believers in the region.
Our partners were able to construct a house for Hari and Rani and give them a pair of bullocks to help Hari with cultivation. “By God’s grace and Open Doors initial contribution I was able to reap much more profits from farming. Open Doors also provided a beautiful house we never imagined we could own,” Hari says, his face beaming.
Hari and Rani’s new home is the pink building on the right.
Hari has been able to purchase six acres of land for irrigation with the profits from his farm. He was also able to purchase a motor for pumping water. He cultivates different vegetables which he sells in the market.
Hari says, “I was so sad when the Hindu extremists took my old bicycle during the riot but now I am blessed with a new motor-bike. We have also brought furniture for our house, which we could never have thought about before.”
Rani says, “Another blessing is that our son is studying very well – he receives tuition assistance from the Bridge School run by Open Doors volunteers. Our child would never have been able to cope with studies if it wasn’t for this Bridge School.”
Bridge schools provide two to three hours of tuition a day to support children in their learning; the free education provided for children by the government is not always of a high standard, making this additional tuition essential.
Hari and Rani also attended an adult literacy class conducted by Open Doors volunteers, and today the couple can read and write.
Hari and Rani reading their Bibles.
“Before attending the classes we could not even read the Bible but after attending the adult literacy classes we read the Bible daily. We can write also. We are growing spiritually. Our lives are better and we praise God for it. We are blessed financially and spiritually,” says Rani. She also regularly attends the women’s prayer group set up by Open Doors partners in the village.
Last year Open Doors partners in India gave relief aid and practical support to 20,249 Christians, distributed over 70,000 Bibles and Christian training materials, and trained nearly 10,000 believers. None of this work would be possible without the support and prayers of people like you.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.