Saturday, May 5, 2012

Micro Lending in India

Have you ever heard of Micro-Lending?  It is an inspired program that helps people who have a will to work get started.  Rising Star has their own program for the locals at the leprosy colonies.  It is fantastic.  There was one man they told us about who wanted to borrow some money for some wood working tools.  I can not remember the exact amount, but it was not very much money-less than $100 for sure.  He now employs over 40 people and has a thriving business.  There are so many who want to work but do not have the means to just get started.
We were able to meet this man who borrowed $12 for a pair of scissors and a few supplies to be a barber.  He now has his own little place where he cuts hair and gives men a great shave.

Doug got a haircut and a shave and looked great :)
Now imagine cutting hair and shaving people when your foot feels like this...

There is a reason he has to sit down and cover his leg (look in the above picture) so no hair will get stuck in his wound.  When he took his little bandage off we all could not believe he was working so long without complaint.  I am sure he is in great agony all day while he is working. When we washed his wounds it was evident.   But he was so grateful to have work and to have a way to provide for his family.  You see when he got leprosy his wife left him.  When she heard that he had this business and could provide for them she came back to him.  This sweet man's life would be one of misery and destitution-all alone with no family.  Look what $12 did for him.  I LOVE IT.  I love Rising Star for giving people their life back, or creating one they never had.

Brandon, my little pre-med boy, was able to wrap his wounds.  He did it ever so carefully and with such skill.  The nurse told me, "Your son wraps better than you do." That was no news flash to me-he is a natural.
After we finished cleaning all their wounds we went in to the place where all the elderly live together.  One side for the men, one side for the women.  This colony had a sort of "assisted living" center.  I have no other word for it, maybe I should just call it a living center.
I have a grandmother who is one of my greatest treasures.  She is 89 years old and has always been the kind of grandmother that everyone dreams of.  When you are with Grandma Logie you feel genuinely loved.  She is an incredible cook, will play with the children all sorts of games for hours, she reads stories, she will start food fights, she can beat anyone in Croquet.  She would take us bowling and fishing and to the local strawberry patch.  She was an absolute dream.  When you were with her she was never distracted with other things she had to do.  We were it to her and we knew it.  She is getting older now and it starting to need more care.  When I walked into the building I immediately thought of her trying to live in this environment.  It brought tears to my eyes for all these aged people.   It is on my list to come back here and help these elderly people become a little more comfortable.

No sheets, no cozy blanket, her pillowcase is an old rice burlap bag. This bed belongs to the sweet lady below.

This man was so incredibly cute.  I loved how he made his little area his own.  He got some sticks and tied a piece of fabric to it to make a little canopy bed.  He has a little radio and some pictures and a calendar.  All that he owned was on that bed and look at that fantastic smile.  These are the souls who find happiness in any circumstance and who have a sure spot in heaven.

 It is neat to see the children go and befriend these souls.  Sam was "chatting" with this man and decided to take off his "live strong" bracelet and give it to him.  I think there is a lot of symbolism in that.  Sam in his own little way was trying to tell him to keep holding on, to endure to the end--that someday he would feel no pain and would have a perfect body of his own. 
After Sam gave him the bracelet the man leaned down and handed this picture to Sam.  It is a picture of a painting that he made.  Honestly, these souls have such little material possessions and then what they do have, they give away.
Material possessions are such an interesting thing.  There are possessions that we absolutely need in life and then there are those that are just kind of fun to have.  Then there is a whole different category.  It is the category of constantly needing more all of the time.  I went and visited my school in Switzerland and there was a poster on the wall that I thought said it perfectly.

It is so well said.  It causes reflection doesn't it? Do we really need a new handbag, pair of jeans, cell phone, designer shoes, or latest flat screen tv?  Does there come a point where we put the jeans back on the shelf just to have some self-denial? not give in to every want.  Do we tell our children that we have enough clothes and we will make do with what we have already?  Even if we can afford it,  there is something to denying ourselves.  I heard a quote once that said, "If you always give your children everything they want, they will never stop wanting." That goes for adults too.  I want you to ask yourself a question.  (myself included)  How much time in your week is spent just looking.  Looking for a new decoration for the house,  surfing the internet for a deal, wondering the aisles of Target, just running from here to there buying things that we don't really need.  Wouldn't it be interesting for one week to add all that time up?  Then the next week tell yourself that you are only going to shop for what is needed like food or other household items.  I am thinking we would gain a lot more time and save some money.  I am not talking just about shopping and material things.  There are other things that we can be addicted to...reading, constantly cleaning...obviously those things are great, but they can also be done in moderation.  (a little disclaimer here--I know most of you reading this are probably in the thick of it raising children and that is what you should be focusing on 100%.  But, if you are feeling like your kids are getting a little older and you have some extra time on your hands then this is for you.)
Now, what if we took that one step farther.  What if we took that time that we were mindlessly wasting and decided to use that time to serve someone?  We could donate the money we would have spent to a food bank or use it to buy a gift card to Walmart for someone in your life that is struggling financially.  The point being is that I think if we all become more aware of the way we spend our time, we will find that a lot can be cut out and used to lift others.  But, I do think you have to schedule it at first.  I think after awhile it will become second nature, just part of who you are, but at the beginning I think we will have to say, "Okay this Tuesday morning from 10-12 I am doing something for someone else." Doesn't matter what it is.  It can be making cookies for an old friend and stopping by to let her know you were thinking of her.  It can be sitting down and writing a letter to a family member and let them know what you love about them.  It can be going to your local assisted living facility and asking them if there is someone who does not get visited regularly and would like some company.  It can be setting up a scheduled time to volunteer at the soup kitchen or local boys and girls club.  It can be making something crafty that your could sell and donate to a charity.  There are just so many things out there to do.  It is just a matter of making time for it.
I am telling you right now that if you can get your teenagers to serve on a regular basis you will eliminate a majority of their ...what's the right word for it...complaints, selfishness, laziness, and boredom.  They will complain at first, but don't give up. Ignore it.  They will thank you someday.
I remember reading an article one day about a young man who was struggling.  He was disobedient, unhappy and just having a hard time.  His mother had heard about an older man who needed help getting to bed each night.  He needed help getting his medication, brushing his teeth, getting his jammies on etc.  She volunteered her son to do it.  At first he was just mad that he had to do it.  He complained and had less than a desirable attitude about it.  I am sure you can guess what happened.  That young man grew to love the elderly man.  A relationship formed and grew and he started to look forward to his time with him.  His heart was changing.  He started to care less about himself and more about others.  It is a natural consequence of service--outward thinking.
One other note.  This post is not to bring guilt.  It is quite the opposite.  It is to help us all, mostly myself, look at what areas I can improve on to make more time to serve with my family.  I am scared to death to go home and just get busy in life again.  We go home in 4 days and I am trying to figure out a way to keep all that we have learned and felt right in the center of our lives.  It is also important to "not run faster than you have strength."  There is a time and a season for all things, so if this is not your time, let it go and keep it in your heart for when it is manageable in your life.
Okay, back to the leper colony.
Charlotte just fell in love with this lady and kept picking her flowers

These two ladies were sisters

This man was sooo tall and he was a yoga expert.  We loved looking at his photos, pretty incredible.

 This is one of my all time favorite experiences.  (Did I already post about this?  If I did, skip on. )  This man spoke really good English.  He asked Sam what he wanted to be when he got older.  Sam told him he wanted to be an entrepreneur.  The man did not hear him right, and he said, "You want to be a doctor?"  
He then took both of Sammy's hands looked him right in the eyes and said, "Always use your knowledge to bless the poor people of this earth." What a wise soul.  Shouldn't that be the goal for all of us?

High fives are a universal language :)


  1. Allyson, just thru your pictures and posts you have helped changed the minds and lives of some people. We can't wait to hear Olivia's stories about your trip and service. It will be wonderful to hear it straight from her heart and tongue. Have a safe trip home.
    Love ya :)

  2. Ella@ home and lifeMay 5, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Wow! U and ur family are just brilliant! I cant believe that your trip is ending in just 4 days cos i love readin ur blog:( please keep up the posts even whilst you are not on your trip.

    P.s its ella from home and life if u dont remember me the kids will:)

  3. I've been trying to think of a service project to do this summer when the kids are out of school and your blog speaks to my heart. I quilt and we could set up the quilt frames and maybe make some pillow cases for them. Could you share an address or contact information with me?

    Thanks bunches

    1. Absolutely! That is a great idea. If you go to you will find contact information there. I also have more names that I can not get to right now, so I will post later. Your kids will never forget it!

  4. Ella (from home and life)May 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Hey Allyson and co. its ella (again! Ur probably getting sick of me!) Just wondering if you had an email address so that i could find out more about your absolutely amazing trip? If you have please can u leave a
    Reply comment with your email address on?

    Thanks loadss Ella

  5. Hi Ella! I could never get sick of you! We felt so blessed to meet you. My email is How are you doing? I would love to hear an update!

    1. Ella (again im glad you couldnt gat sick of me!)May 8, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      Hey Al, i have emailed you hope you email back. Have a safe journey home!

      Love you all Ella