THE WOMAN IN THE PURPLE SARI
Thank you for what you did seven years ago when no one was watching. You obeyed God’s voice and expected nothing in return. You transformed not only the lives of two small children, but also the lives of two girls from America. You are forever imprinted on our hearts. We promise to share your story and to never let our faith waiver when times are rough. You have inspired us beyond measure and we pray that this story will touch lives in the same way.
This is Jayamma’s story.
She is a part of the lowest caste system in India, living in a tribal village on the outskirts on Ongole. Most of her life has been spent in the streets sweeping up trash and removing human waste. In India, people who are born into this caste system are considered “untouchable”, tainted and less than human. They are not allowed to get their water from the same wells or drink from the same cup as others. They are segregated in temples and worship, and cannot wear shoes in the presence of a person from a higher caste. It is nearly impossible to break the cycle of poverty and move up in a caste that one is born.
When Jayamma was 18 years old, she got married to Ankaiah. For years they tried to have children, but all ended tragically with miscarriages and a stillborn. Jayamma wasn’t able to choose the hand she was dealt in this life or what caste she was born, but she was able to choose Jesus. She willingly placed all her cards in the hands of a good Father, who she faithfully knew was watching over her. A Father who could turn an ordinary day into a day that would change not only her life, but save the life of another.
Jayamma’s day must have started out like any other ordinary day. She probably awoke early, in her one room stone hut, to make chai and egg dosa for her husband. She probably swept the matted mud floors to create a seemingly clean atmosphere. Once she was done with her morning routine, she faithfully went to work. While sweeping the trash-filled streets of a slum village, Jayamma dumped the debris into yet another make-shifted “trash can” on the side of the road. It was then that she noticed something out of a place, that wasn’t trash at all. That early morning, Jayamma found a 17 day old innocent baby boy laying on a heap of discarded rubbish. Without hesitation she traded her dirt stained broom for a dying little boy. She brought his fragile body home and began nourishing him with the love only a mother could give. Jayamma let her husband name him, tying him to their family forever. Hanumanthu’s journey had just begun.
This is an incredible story on its own, but it was only just the beginning for Jayamma’s growing family. Six months later, after bringing Hanumanthu into their lives, Jayamma rescued another child off the streets.
Little did she know that while raising her new found baby boy, another precious little girl miles away was being neglected due to dying parents. At just over a year old, this sweet baby girl lost both of her parents. The next kin to raise her was her grandmother, but not being financially stable, she left her on the streets.
It must have been another ordinary day where Jayamma faithfully went to work. As she was sweeping, she noticed a naked, dirty, and malnourished toddler picking at scraps on the side of the road. It was then that she instantly knew that this innocent child was not being taken care of. Once again, without hesitation, Jayamma opened her heart to yet another dying child. Always wanting a daughter, Jayamma got to choose the name of the newest edition to the family. Like her brother, Hanumanthu, Anusha’s journey had just begun.
Jayamma’s family of two, quickly became a family of four. She had no doubt that her God was going to provide their every need.
Today, Anusha is a healthy eight year old girl who one day wants to be a teacher. She is only in school because of the help of CCDC, the organization we are partnered with this month. Her little brother, Hanumanthu, is a healthy (but scrawny) seven year old. He one day wants to grow up and break the cycle of poverty in his family.
While sitting on her front porch, with tears in our eyes, we heard this story unravel. We asked her: “if God could answer one prayer right now, what would it be?” While Jayamma eagerly thought of her response, we silently prayed that we could be the answer to her prayers. After what seemed like a long moment of thought and translation, Jayamma voiced her answer. She explained how she had taken out a loan to pay for her children’s education and has struggled paying it off. With a rising interest rate and a meager income, the chances of paying this off was next to impossible. The bank was now coming after her home, needing the money back within the year. We asked how much she owed, and our translator told us “10,000 rupees” which doubled because of the high interest accruing. Jayamma now owed 20,000 rupees. We quickly converted the rupees to US dollars, and found out it was only $312.29. Without hesitation, we looked at each other and knew why God had called us there that day. We asked our translator to tell Jayamma we wanted to bless her and pay off her debt. She surprised us with her confident reaction, knowing fully well that the Lord was going to provide. Come to find out, this wasn’t the first time a total stranger paid off her debt. She knew the Lord was going to send someone to help carry this burden, we are just thankful it was us!
A few days later, we eagerly awaited her arrival at the office to be a part of this amazing story. Thinking we couldn’t be surprised more when it came to this lady’s faith, we were told Jayamma only makes 3,000 rupees a month. Of this, she faithfully gives 2,000 of it to the church, which means her family of four lives off of the remaining 1,000 ($15.64 USD).
Going into each village, we expected to impart just a bit more faith to the people we came across. Little did we know, that one of those people would give us a lot more faith than we could have ever given in return. This was the day that India changed the hearts of two American girls.
And we will never be the same.