ServeNow is operating several “Lighthouse Centers” in the slums of India and Nepal. While similar in purpose, they are also each unique. The centers in New Dehli and Kolkata are operated out of a rented facility year round where a variety of programs take place; anything from tailoring and cosmetology classes for women, computer, cell phone repair courses and literacy classes for men and women, education and programs such as Vacation Bible School for hundreds of local kids throughout the year. The two new centers in two separate slums in Kathmandu, Nepal, will also be in rented facilities; one focuses on serving children, the other focuses on providing skill training for women as an alternative to prostitution or human trafficking (Read More Here). Other lighthouse centers in India and Nepal are more “mobile” in nature, operating on a six to nine months basis where women are trained in cosmetology or tailoring. After a training course is finished, we move on to another area where skills training is needed. Below are recent stories from several of the current lighthouse centers.
*Danisha is one of the students at our tailoring school who joined us 8 months ago. But after only a month of classes, she got sick and had serious problems with her mental health; she even attempted suicide by jumping off the balcony of her home. The fall fractured her leg, put her into a coma, and she was refused treatment by doctors in the area. Finally, with the help of ServeNow leaders in Delhi, she was admitted to a hospital in Delhi, and since then Danisha and her grandmother started believing in the Lord. Now, after 3 months in the hospital, Danisha is back home and can take care of herself. She reads the Bible daily, and her mother has requested us to start a Bible study group in her street. Danisha hopes to attend church once she is able to walk again. Each week, about 8-10 people gather at her house for Bible study and prayer. Danisha hopes that her father and brother will also accept Christ as their personal Savior. She is thankful that through ServeNow’s lighthouse center, her life was changed.
Recently, during a visit to the Delhi Lighthouse Center, someone told us about a woman who had given her life to Jesus and now her entire family attends church. *Deenu was a tailoring student at the lighthouse center last year. After completing her course, she kept visiting the center and wanted to know more about Jesus. She also requested our local leaders to visit her home and pray for her family. Now, one year later, she and her entire family attend church regularly. She has also begun to share the Gospel with her neighbors. In fact, Deenu and some of her neighbors get together once a week at her house for prayer meetings.
For the past 15 years, *Sheena has lived with her two children and her husband in a slum. Throughout the years, she has been repeatedly mistreated and humiliated for being illiterate. She was ashamed that even her 11-year-old daughter can read and right, but she can’t. So, when she was offered the opportunity to attend an adult literacy class, she immediately signed up. Now, after almost one year, she can read and write. Also, she became a believer and is now an active member of the women’s prayer group. She has faced challenges along the way, but she is determined to continue. It was an honor to hand out a copy of the Bible in Hindi to her. She said; I can’t believe that just a year ago I could not even recognize one character, and now I can read and write on my own. Thank you, ServeNow, for helping me and most importantly, for giving me the Word of God. I want to share it with my family; I especially want my children to know the Word of the Lord as well.
Like Sheena, there were 7 other women who learned to read and write through our literacy program, and they all acknowledge that receiving a Bible is the best gift they have received. On graduation day, we also conducted a special career counseling session to inform the graduates about the available options now that their training is completed. Our resource person was Ms. Elizabeth; she is a professional cosmetologist and had been working with several known cosmetology companies who specialize in beauty products. The students were very encouraged by the advice from professionals.
Ruchi is from the Sangam Vihar slum in Delhi. Six months ago, after completing her junior college, Ruchi attended ServeNow’s computer training course at the lighthouse center where she learned basic computer skills. She had never used a computer before. Now, after six months, as she graduated from the course, she already has a job as a data entry operator in one of the local financial institutions. Ruchi told us; The skills I learned here have been a great help to me. The teaching was great and after the course I was able to secure a job for myself. With my earnings, I have decided to continue my further education. Thank you, ServeNow for this opportunity!
Anjana is a student at our tailoring school. Married to a daily wage laborer who earns a small salary, Anjana finds it difficult to support her family, which includes her daughter who is in the 12th standard. Even though she has always wanted to have a job and earn some money, she couldn’t because she didn’t have a specific skill. When she heard about ServeNow’s free vocational training center, she approached the leadership and was admitted into the tailoring course. She says: My daughter will be graduating this year, and I will have to have money to send her to college. With this training, I intend to support my family and the education for my daughter. I thank ServeNow for this opportunity. I would never have been able to afford this kind of training on my own.
Sheerisha is a school drop-out in her early twenties and already a mother of two young children. Her husband Saidhulu runs a small tea stall on the roadside; he barely makes enough to meet the needs of his family. Sheerisha is so excited that she could join ServeNow’s free cosmetology training; she couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. She proudly shared with us the things she has already learned. After completing the course, she plans to go back to her village with her family and start a beauty parlor to help support her family. We talked to her husband and encouraged him to be supportive. He has agreed to take care of the children when she attends classes. The couple is hopeful that this training will bring extra income for the family and that this will end their financial crisis.
Ashwini is a teenage girl from a slum in Hyderabad. Her mother, Mogulamma, works as a maidservant and her father is a daily wage laborer at a rice mill. Ashwini loves to study and wants to become a nurse. However, she knows that further study is expensive and her parents will never be able to afford that, especially with the loan sharks threatening her father every day for repayment of the money he had to borrow earlier to help sustain his family. Actually, this girl was in a very vulnerable situation, but when she heard about ServeNow’s free cosmetology course, Ashwini took the initiative and joined the course. After completion of this course, she wants to work part-time and fund her higher studies without imposing a financial burden on her parents. Her ultimate goal is to help support her parents. The best thing that happened to her is that she has come to know Jesus and has learned to trust in him. She said; My heart was overwhelmed with joy when I happened to hear about ServeNow and its humanitarian service for destitute people like me. I feel very happy and thankful, because this course will give me hope and safety for now and for my future. Thank you, ServeNow!
Prasanna came to know the Lord when she married her husband Suresh. Having discontinued her education due to financial limitations, Prasanna continued to dream about becoming a cosmetologist, even though she didn’t have the money for training. Therefore, when she heard about ServeNow’s free training program, it was like a dream come true for her. Surehs is the only breadwinner in their family, and it is a struggle to provide for everyone needs, especially for his physically handicapped mother. Prasanna, after completing her training, wants to work at a beauty parlor to gain some work experience. After that, she wants to start her own business. Her husband and her in-laws are very glad to see her attending the classes and hope that she will graduate as a skilled beautician.
Recently, on May 13, a group of tailoring students in Nepal graduated from their six months training! This was the third group who graduated from our program in Nepal. Each student was presented with a sewing machine, made possible by a generous donor. Below are testimonies from two girls. The first is the testimony of a girl at the beginning of the course, and the second is from a girl at her graduation.
Patali said: For a long time I had wished, hoped and longed for a skill training course like this. Because of my poverty, I knew there wasn’t really a possibility for me to do this. I thought that my dream would never come true, but I thank God that ServeNow Nepal came to our community to help people like me. It’s not only about the training, it’s also about spreading the Word of God and showing love in action. I am so grateful for this organization, not only for providing training but also helping us to be able to speak for our community, to create an awareness of the dangers of human trafficking. I am really looking forward to implement my skills in the near future. Thank you again.
Kamala said: I am so happy to see this day. I had a great desire to get the life skill training and was not able to do so because of my poverty, but now finally my dream has come into reality, because of ServeNow. During the 6 month training period, I have learned so many things beside sewing and cutting, things such as health & hygiene, awareness of trafficking dangers, being a “watchdog” for the community etc. I don’t have proper words to express my gratitude to ServeNow. I now see a better future in front of me, and I thank you all for your effort in giving me this wonderful day in my life.
The coordination for the start-up of the first new lighthouse center is still on-going. Last week, we had a meeting with pastors from different churches in one of the worst slums, and everyone in the meeting was so impressed and eager to see the fruits of the lighthouse. One of the pastors shared that this lighthouse will surely bring light in the worst places and help disadvantaged children and communities. He also expressed his gratitude for bringing everyone together to discuss the importance of one Christian voice, as the body of Christ, in making a positive impact in this community. Once again, the pastors repeated the uniqueness of this new project, even the name “lighthouse”.
***These stories would not be a reality without the generous support of people like you. If your heart has been moved by these stories, would you consider a gift towards the ongoing work of the Lighthouse Centers? If so you can give here: Lighthouse Centers.