New Delhi: India's Capital
by John Murray
More than 18 million people call New Delhi, India’s capital city, home. It’s a bustling metropolis made up of buildings, businesses, highways and history; and we recognised that it is a melting pot of cultures, classes and commerce.
New Delhi is home to The Salvation Army’s India Northern Territory territorial headquarters. A visit to any Indian Territory is typically incomplete without a visit with either the territorial commander or the chief secretary. On this visit we had the pleasure of meeting both leaders.
The traffic in New Delhi is a nightmare. The roads are congested and the traffic is stop-and-go at best. Our 15-minute journey took us more than an hour and to complicate matters the temperature was in excess of 45 Celsius.
In the southern part of the city, the Army opened a corps in response to the growing Burmese refugee population. The refugees started leaving Burma about 15 years ago in response to the political crisis and today thousands of Burmese call Delhi home. Life is difficult for these people. Many of them are undocumented aliens and as such they cannot work nor can they go to school.
The corps is situated on the second floor of a multi-storey walk-up apartment. I was told that several Burmese families would typically occupy one of the units. The children are comfortable in the setting and, not unlike kids everywhere, they seem happy just to be with their friends. The Army will soon open a formal education programme for 50 children and adults whereby they will teach Hindi and English. In order to gain a foothold in the working world it is essential that the refugees learn Hindi – the national language of India.
On Friday morning we had the privilege of meeting several of the corps members who shared their stories. We met a couple of students who have managed to successfully complete theological studies – against the odds – and a young married couple who would like to become Salvation Army officers. Thanks to the vision of the corps officer who understood the needs of his community, these Salvationists have a place to worship, a centre for support and educational programming to assist with their growth as they begin their lives anew in India.
As we travelled across the country we saw first-hand the importance of community-based programming. Since 2005, the Army, in partnership with the Family Health Network of India, has conducted polio immunisation clinics in the southern part of the city. To date, more than 36,000 children have received vaccinations. In addition, they offer family planning counselling and HIV referral and support programming – once again we see the Army serving people in their community at their point of need.
‘Incredible India’ – that pretty much sums up our two-week, eight-city experience of this vast and diverse country. Our blogs and photos are just the beginning of our story-telling. We have much work to accomplish in the coming days and weeks as we write articles, create photo essays and complete the BOUNDLESS Film Festival documentary. We also plan several shorter videos on the Army’s health, education and community development ministries – so our work is really just beginning.
For now, we’re off to Kathmandu, Nepal, to document the relief and recovery efforts of The Salvation Army in response to the recent earthquakes. Thanks for your prayerful support and thanks again for reading.
Tags: Education, India, Northern, Health