Carnmoney woman Grace Startin was among a group of volunteers who travelled to Goa recently with the Labour In Faith and Trust (LIFT) overseas mission organisation.
The 12-strong team jetted out to India last month to work in partnership with another charity, El Shaddai.
El Shaddai was formed in 1995 to help the plight of street children. The organisation now runs four children’s homes and a number of shelters where street children are provided with three meals a day.
The team from LIFT helped to paint and decorate three of the children’s homes.
“The temperatures were in the mid thirties each day so it was tough going - after all we’re not used to days of endless sunshine and humidity,” Grace commented. “The team worked hard to complete house number one - the girls’ home, Rainbow House - and we soon moved to Victory House which is home to some 70 boys aged up to 16 years. The final house to complete was House of Kathleen which is home to the young boys and girls up to age eight.”
Grace, a member of Abbey Presbyterian Church, continued: “The painting work was hard, but the team bonded well and we were able to form close friendships with some of the local young people who came faithfully every morning to join us. The fact that we were able to interact with these boys and share God’s love through practical work is a privilege.
“It was sad to see how many people have to endure poverty-stricken conditions, but it is encouraging to see local people working for El Shaddai to bring hope for a brighter future. The charity has centres for women to teach them skills such as knitting and sewing - selling their wares at local markets enables them to earn a living. Many children survive by sifting through rubbish to find anything which may be useful or sellable, for example plastic bottles which they can reuse or sell. The shelters provide much needed food for these children.
“El Shaddai has also been able to provide or pay for medical care for many children over the past 15 years. What we consider simple procedures would be unavailable to many, but with funding from many Christians, El Shaddai can provide the means to change the lives of many adults and children throughout Goa.”
She added: “It was a privilege to witness God’s love at work in an area which is known to many as a beautiful holiday destination. The reality which we observed was totally different and I thank God for granting me the strength and ability to share in the work of El Shaddai and LIFT and I pray that this work will continue for many years.”