Women- shatter the silence, be the change

“Empowering women isn’t the right thing to do , it is a smart thing to do”- Barack Obama

India remains a male dominated society where women are often subordinate to men. India has succumbed to subjugating her deep inner strength for centuries. Some of India’s mythological gods like the gods of wealth, learning and power are women. Indian history is also replete with woman who have embodied valor, bravery, courage like Jhansi Rani, but deep in its culture we find male chauvinism and female subjugation. India is home to 586 million women, slightly more than 17% of the global total. India has 173 million girls below the age of 15 , about 1/5th of the world’s total. In spite of being the second largest woman populated country in the world, the female participation in the workforce mounts to only 29%. The literary rate of women is 60% against 82% of men. This adverse ratio comes due to a few erroneous beliefs and attitudes among the people of our nation.

Jawaharlal Nehru once stated , “ You can tell the status of the nation by looking at the status of women in the country” . And rightly so, as some studies estimate that if the women were to equal the work force of men in all fields, the GDP( gross domestic product) of our country would rise to 27% leading to an economic gain. Nevertheless, some of the factors that crunch the status of equality are due to our deeply rooted patriarchal traditions. The dowry system stands as the top among the piling list. The discrimination arises from the illegal dowry system in India which hasn’t been uprooted even after the enforcement of the law in 1961. People legitimize the dowry by lauding over the bridegroom’s education and earning potential wherein the bride’s educational qualification and earning potential are not taken into account

Another factor is that a woman is considered a liability and not an asset to the family. The discrimination starts at birth where a girl child is considered a burden to the family -leading to premature abortions. As a little girl child, she again is not treated as an equal to the male child by not being given a proper full-fledged education as her counterpart. This stems from the belief that boys , “ their sons” will look after them in their old age and parents stretch themselves to take huge loans to educate their sons. The girls are married off by giving the bridegrooms a fulsome amount of dowry and they are expected to do all the household work at home even if they are highly educated and earning well. There is also discrimination on a woman when she becomes a widow. A widower in India is not treated as badly as a widow. She is isolated and isn’t allowed to attend any celebrations. And lastly she has no say over the inheritance of her parents and Indian statistics reveal that very few women have lands registered in their names. From birth to death – women are subjugated , ill -treated and haven’t enjoyed equal rights as men. Is a woman born to be discriminated in India? These backward ideologies that have been embedded in the society have to breakdown. These patriarchal traditions need to change and it needs strong women who will be willing to swim against the tide and shatter the silence that prevails and is hovering over the society.

71% woman in the world are sexually harassed and choose not to report it, workplace harassment has become a culture in India, the media play a huge role in debasing the role of women through advertisement , movies , etc, 50% of women are rarely part of leadership committees in the secular platform. Why ? Why all this unjust , prejudicial treatment of women?

Yes , we have a few women who have succeeded battling against all odds.To name a few- a Mitali Madhumita, the first woman to get the gallantry award, Punita Arora- the first Vice Admiral of the Indian Navy , Padmavathy Bando phyay- the first Air Marshall( IAF), Sonia Gandhi- Indian National Congress, Mary Kom- 6 times – world boxing champion, Saina nehwal- the golden girl- shuttle player , Saina Mirza-badminton player , Mithali Raj- women in Blue – most successful cricket team captain in India , Jayti Chauhan- Bisleri Group CEO, Kiran Mazumdar- BIOCON and Asia’s top philanthropist, P V Sindhu- first woman in Badminton world Championship and many more successful women have made history in India . My heart burns with pride for these woman who chose to battle their way up ,to reach towering heights.

I applaud our Indian constitution that ensures equality to woman. Article 14,15(1),15(3), 16,39,42,51,243 speak about equal rights for woman but the articles of the constitution have taken decades to get enforced due to the rigidness in the ideologies and attitudes of people. The legislation contains several rights and safeguards for women as well. There are more than 25 Acts that the preamble of our Constitution talks about that protect and promote women’s safety and gender equality. Has it succeeded in its course of action?

The problem still prevails and it lies in the attitude of the society. Misinterpretation of cultural norms are cancer to our attitude towards women . Social fallacies pull us back every time we take a step forward. Once every man starts respecting a woman and views her as an equal, the attitude of the entire society will change. A renewed mind can transform the society. Women too need to be bold, to step out of their shyness, face the world , shatter the silence , voice her opinion and climb the ladder to success.

In every era there have been women who haven’t succumbed or been mute spectators to the prevailing inequality but have resiliently fought battles at every step. Women need to take unrelenting efforts until they are treated as equals. Women must shatter the silence by not succumbing to the societal norm of inequality.

“ The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before” Albert Einstein

A call to all woman out there, “ BE THE CHANGE THAT YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD”—Mahatma Gandi

Sarah Susannah

UESI Staff, Nainital

Uttarakhand

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A true patriot

In the aftermath of the Pulwama attacks on February 14th 2019 launched against India and India in an effort to defend itself and fight against terror, launched a preemptive, non- military strike against the Jaish- e- muhammed camps at Pakistan. Pakistan predictably striked back and in what ensued as a dog fight on mid- air, an MIG- 21 was shot down in Pakistan administered Kashmir making Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman a prisoner of war for 3 days. The country heaved a sigh of relief when Wing Commander stepped onto the Indian soil, in the Wagah border at 9.22 pm on March 1st2019.

Amidst the tensions building up during the excruciating three days for the country, there built up within its citizens a sense of patriotism and oneness where the country stood in solidarity with the defense and Government to bring him back. A surgical strike in 2016 incited a similar kind of euphoric unanimity in India. Here arises a question – are we Patriotic or Nationalistic? Are they the same ? NO

Patriotism is a feeling of national pride- pledging alliance with the other citizens of the same country. True patriotism brings in the spirit of reconciliation to heal, unite and abide in peace despite differences. Patriotism breeds in an individual a sense of responsibility toward the country along with love for the country. The Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi- who led the non- violence movement in India, never sought to breed hatred and animosity . He knew – as a man of ideals and principal that ,“ war” would never solve any situation. It would rather violate the code of patriotism. Patriotism would mean that the love for ones countrymen comes first, being proud of the country’s virtues and being willing to be open to discuss on the betterment of the country.

Nationalism on the other hand is where the hatred for the other country comes first. Nationalism is contemptuous towards the virtues of another country. A Nationalist loves and is proud of his country , NO MATTER WHAT IT DOES. Nationalism speaks on legitimising violence and promotes hatred for another country. Nationalism trumpets on its own country’s efficiencies and will never be willing to deal with its own faults.

As much as the country argues on not having civilians on its radar during its counter attacks, the aggressiveness of the media, the social media and many other so called patriotic citizens seem to promote Nationalism rather than patriotism. I ain’t in any way supporting terrorist organizations. I stand against any violence and the country is well aware that this violence marks the most serious escalation since 1999 and we all stand against it. Escalating the current status will certainly lead to war and will never ever solve the conflict situation.

As much as I am exuberant and celebrate along with my fellow citizens the return of my Indian brother, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman onto the Indian soil, I would love to remain an Indian patriot seeking to love my neighbor. I appreciate and respect our patriotic Wing Commander who maintained poise and spoke respectively, in the midst of life – death situations to the Pakistani military.

An ancient Scripture says, “Forgive one another” . I would love to remain a patriotic citizen of India, choosing to abide by this Scripture, not heightening violence and sacrificing my brothers on the border but by showing solidarity for the country by praying for wisdom, decision making skills for our leaders, protection over our defense forces, quick de-escalation and resolution of conflicts between the nations. JAI HIND

– Sarah Susannah

(She is a patriot of the country residing at Uttarakhand and works among students)

Faith amidst trials

What is life all about

Its hassles wear me out

Lying on a pile of doubts

Hard it is for faith to sprout

When trials cascade

And my hope dissuades

Doubts assail and invade

Creating a night shade

Dreary had been the road

With it’s crumbling heavy load

Doubts have high soared

And tears ever flowed

I know- He weighs every load

For this path has He strode

Tho- they aren’t rosy meadows

His grace He surely bestows

Tis with Him I stride

And let Him be my guide

Dry be the ground I abide

He’s always by my side

For I must walk thru’ this phase

Resting on God’s unchanging grace

For in me ,His image He’ll trace

Lovingly, with ever a poised pace

Until ashore- I see His shining face.

Adieu my Angel

I never glanced upon your face

Or felt your tiny fingers wrap around mine

I never felt the warmth of your embrace

Or watch you smile while you sleep

But my longing for you has been deep

How can it be ? This love I feel

For someone who will never be

Adieu! my Angel, it’s time to let you go

I never felt those kicks in me

Or felt those moments of uneas at night

I never heard your shrill cry

Or changed pampers at night

But my longing for you has been deep

How can it be ? This love I feel

For someone who will never be

Adieu! my Angel, it’s time to let you go

I never minded – when I battled sadness

Of not having you in my arms

Those unsaid dreams , unsaid tears

For not able to rock you to sleep

But my longing for you has been deep

How can it be ? This love I feel

For someone who will never be

Adieu! my Angel, it’s time to let you go

I never can see you crawl

Or see you take your first steps

I never can see you teeth

Or even use a teether

I never can buy your first rattle

Or laugh at your tantrums

But my longing for you has been deep

How can it be ? This love I feel

For someone who will never be

Adieu ! my angel, it’s time to let you go

I never want others to get too close

Too close to see my anguish

I never want them to see my ( our) tears

For this longing will never subside.

But I will forever love you

I will live as though you lived

How can it be?? This love I feel

Adieu ! My sweet angel

It’s time to let you go

VALLEY EXPERIENCES AS A MISSIONARY

I first arrived on the  mission field as a 29 year old , newly married women with  a few years of experience with a student mission. Boarding a train from my hometown and saying goodbye to the people who had known  and loved me all along was the most difficult thing for me to do.  I had always prayed about working as a cross cultural missionary along with a mission minded partner but praying was one thing an facing reality was another altogether

To then arrive on the other side of India, seemed to be a new planet altogether. To live and minister in a place full of people you’ve never seen before and hearing a language you’ve never heard before , adapting yourself to the food and the cultural practices was a strange and a vulnerable feeling indeed. Reading missionary biographies during those times was a great source of encouragement for me.  With no one to speak to and no fellowship to go to,  I went through isolation, culture shock experiences that made me silently struggle within. It was only the strength of the Lord that helped me stride ahead with my partner always walking hand in hand with me through all that I had to undergo.

Five years from then, that initial feeling of insecurity has flown away, I can’t stay away from the local students or the local culture, ministry picked up tremendously we literally saw many students come to know the Lord personally as their Savior and grow in Him. There were those mountain top experiences in the field and also those deep valley experiences.  Along with joyous times came  those times of distress,  feelings of  being let down and constant struggles throttled me down. Our home slowly became the hotspot for friends to enjoy a meal, a drop in place for students at any time of the day, a holiday home for well meaning friends visiting over, a counseling centre for broken families, homes and lives. Household work sometimes quadrupled overnight with hardly time to sit and listen to soothing music.

The sense of failure sometimes crashed into my thoughts at times when after years of work over a small group, we failed to see little or no fruit , or a new believer whose growth in the Lord seemed steady, and within a month you see his spiritual decline and downfall.  Another trying experience in the mission field is sicknesses of all kinds- ranging from communicable to non communicable ones. We have found it tough when we needed to travel many kilometers of distance in order to reach the nearest hospital and physicians would ultimately diagnose the disease wrongly

Being on the mission field is a humbling experience. I understood that I don’t have  any super spiritual powers that render me immune to the things that wear away my,” buffer”.  We all need the grace of God at those times when we would rather throw a malfunctioning laptop at the window, murmur when we need to travel long distances to the nearest hospital in an emergency situation , break into tears of frustration when there is no finance at home, or even running to your neighbors home to have a bath due to water shortage.

The most painful of all is the rejection from parents, relatives back at home when you cannot attend weddings or a family get together due to the distance, finance involved and the pioneering built up ministry that might break down in our absence. Facing anger, rejection, annoyance sometimes hatred from family  is part of a missionary’s life. The feeling of loneliness grips you when you know that parents and siblings cannot make it to your place. The lack of fellowship from mature believers or prayer partners on the mission field has made me feel insecure, many a times . But, above all, knowing that you have chosen the best part of leaving your loved ones to serve the Lord in a remote location, with Christ strengthening you every moment, has always given me hope and encouragement.

Sometimes , I hate to fake enthusiasm when I feel physically exhausted, emotionally wounded and spiritually dry. I have wrestled and I still wrestle with family tensions back at home, unresolved tensions with team mates, difficulty to continue with deep differences and change in thought pattern of fellow workers,  the guilt of living far from families, not being able to  care for parents at their old age, the mounting ministry load, this deep feeling of inadequacy to minister to an elite, urban student crowd, discouragement with non – progressive growth in students. Through it ALL, God has been faithful in leading me through and showing rays of hope through other experiences.

Col : 3: 23,24 that says “ …… since you know that from the Lord you will receive your reward; you serve Christ”  has always been of great encouragement to me.  At time of spiritual exhaustion and  requiring inspiration to do the Lords work  , 2 Pet: 3: 18 came live to me.

On the other hand, the Lord chose to use struggles to shape me , mould me , break me and relate with people who go through similar struggles. It has been a bumpy road, with lots of speed breakers, traffic signals, minor dents on the vehicle, but it is all worth it for I know that  He is still working in me to make me a better vessel of clay. A missionary once said from whom I take encouragement , “ I had to learn that it is the Lord’s work and not mine. And it is ok if I feel adequate at it or if I struggle because I am inadequate. I will never be adequate to do what only God can do. There is  a lot to do and endure to improve, but I don’t have to figure it all out myself. I can count on Him.”

YES , AND I KNOW THAT I CAN COUNT ON HIM( CHRIST)

That’s my favorite song…

We talk of faith way up on the mountain
Talk comes so easy when life’s at its best
Now down in the valleys, of trials and temptations
That’s where your faith, is really put to the test
For the God on the mountain is the God in the valley
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right
And the God of the good times
Is still God in the bad times
The God of the day, is still God in the night
The God of the day, is still God in the night

  • Sarah( missionary with the student mission)

 

Hobbies

How hobbies shaped me and helped reach students

Hobbies are a wonderful way to take a break from the usual grind of life. Wikipedia states that a hobby is a regular activity done for enjoyment typically during ones leisure time. Phyllis McGinley once said, “ A hobby a day , keeps the doldrums away”. True to the word, hobbies rejuvenate us, make life interesting and deflect us from the mundane.

It takes discipline to push pause when so many things around us ( career, ministry, tasks, household work) scream for attention. God demonstrated the importance of rest( Gen:2:3) and commands us to take care of our bodies ( 1 Cor:6:19,20) which includes our physical, mental and spiritual well being. Hobbies are just one of the many ways we can do this, while connecting to Him and also develop a deeper relationship with Him as we pursue them.

My hobbies have ranged from interior designing, hairdo, vegetable carving, playing the guitar, singing, craftwork to cooking, reading, writing, quilling, blogging, silk thread jewelry making, calligraphy, ceramic carving, etc. Funny it seems as my hobbies are many and have kept changing from time to time.

Lately, I’ve been quilling for about a year or so. I initially tried my hand at it with disinterest but my creative skills from the Lord wouldn’t let me stop. Quilling wallposters, cards, bands, earrings, etc attracted a lot of students to our home where I taught them how to quill. It became a pattern for girl students to visit our home, chit chat and quill alongside me. This gave me room to share the gospel and win them for the Lord over a period of time.

My hobby of quilling different designer jewelry paved way for me to easily enter girls hostels and start GIG’s ( groups investigating God). Since girls are primarily attracted to jewelry, students easily gathered in huge numbers, bought a few and also joined the Bible study thereafter. Quilling also helped me sell my work ( online and offline) ,make an income and educate believing students hailing from a poor background. Quilling and developing a hobby together with students makes it more fun and makes us relate to them easily. It has also helped me drive my point into them through informal talks rather than formal ones.

Cooking and baking on the other hand have also served as excellent tools to relate with girls and boys alike in the ministry. Just being with them, adding the different spices into curries, letting them try their hand at my hobbies have helped. Mentoring has always happened during these times where I’ve let them learn my hobbies and vice versa.

With regard to hobbies, I have always asked myself whether it hinders or promotes my pursuit of Jesus Christ. God is certainly pleased when we pursue hobbies provided we don’t make idols of them.

Hobbies add spice to life and having varying kinds of hobbies develop you as an individual and also as a believer

  1. Hobbies make you an interesting person, adds hand on experience and helps you share it with others.
  2. It helps relieve stress and calms your mind
  3. Certain hobbies increase your patience ( painting, sculpturing) as you develop skills while others keep your body fit ( outdoor games)
  4. Hobbies make you confident and increases your self esteem, improves mental alertness
  5. Hobbies also make you socialize , both online and offline
  6. Hobbies improve creativity and helps in idea generation
  7. Hobbies enable you to give back and bless others through you
  8. It helps discover you inner talents
  9. You can also make decent incomes our of few hobbies

It is important to practice self control in our pursuit of hobbies as there are stray chances of hobbies turning into an obsession. The thumb rule of 1 Cor : 10:31  and Colossians: 3:17 of , “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God”, ought to be followed. Our hobbies should not be an escape from living under the Lordship of Christ. Kuyper once said, “ There is not one inch in all of our human existence over which God does not cry, ‘MINE’”.  As for me hobbies have moulded my character and have served to be a blessing to others too. So friends, take time and enjoy your hobbies , they are well worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sarah Susannah

Sarah blogs at https://cyberchefsarah.wordpress.com

FB Page on her hobbies( Quilling for sale)-  https://www.facebook.com/Susiesboutique/