Sharing the good news
This month’s newsletter is filled with stories of hope. Thank you for caring and for wanting to have an impact on people who are a world away from you!
Despite a surge of democratic and economic growth, India is home to one of the largest oppressed populations in the world. The poor and Untouchables of India are treated as outcasts by a society based upon a 3,000-year-old caste system.
Often victimized without consequence and relegated to the lowliest of jobs, the poor are unable to earn a livable wage. Because they lack access to legitimate financial services, the vast majority are forced to depend on loan sharks for survival and are charged up to 180% interest. To repay their debts, many poor fall prey to the unthinkable—abuse in the form of slavery or forced prostitution.
Untouchables are banned from temples and are taught that their status will follow them into the afterlife. Although a daunting task, spiritual, economic and social transformation is possible for this exploited and shunned group. Hands of Freedom believes all people are created equal in God’s image. The call of Hands of Freedom is to be the light of Christ to those living in poverty and help bring about spiritual, economic and social transformation.
Through a series of member-managed and sustainable programs – some of which you will read about below – Hands of Freedom offers the skills and resources to permanently lift the poor and Untouchables and their families out of the darkness of oppression.
Thank you to the Women of Impact Facebook group! Because of your excellent input, the ladies who supplied scarves for sale in the U.S. are building capacity to create throws, bags, quilts and table runners. These should be available in two to three months for us to sell. The export license is in place, and Hands of Freedom is in the process of getting its Fair Trade Certificate. If you’d like to join the Women of Impact Facebook group, please reply to this email.
And a reminder: We still have scarves available for sale. They will make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts. If you haven’t yet placed an order, you can learn more about ordering the scarves here. They are also available in the Minneapolis area at the Hosanna! Lutheran Church bookstore, 9600 163rd St W, Lakeville, MN 55044. Call (952) 435-3332 for the bookstore hours.
Business Development Model is changing lives
The Lord is opening even more doors! Hands of Freedom created the Business Development Model, a mentoring program teaching under-educated women how to start and sustain a business. The program is engaging the church and entire families. As of this writing, the participating ladies hope to open 20 new businesses this year. A total of 50 women are currently going through the program.
Journey Beyond equips youth for a brighter future
Journey Beyond is a movement giving hope to youth who – as with generations before them – live in challenging situations. Hands of Freedom is mentoring these young people in the local churches, to encourage them to dream beyond their circumstances.
We are very excited to launch our first music class for 40 young people in this group. Faith and music have famously helped artists around the world to escape poverty. From Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton, we’ve all heard stories of how lives are blessed when the Gospel and music combine. There is an excitement in the air for these youth, many of whom are holding a musical instrument for the first time in their lives.
More than 1,000 women to attend Swati’s Women’s Retreats
Swati is creating women’s retreats in India, to take place in March, April and May. Right now, she has a total of six retreats scheduled in four locations and she hopes to line up more. We anticipate that 300 to 400 women will attend each day-long retreat. Swati’s goal is to reach more than 1500 this spring.
These retreats are part of Hands of Freedom’s Women’s Ministries, reaching out to especially vulnerable, poor women who are living with the constant threat of bondage and violence. Through fellowship, bible study and mentoring, Hands of Freedom helps to reveal the power and social equality Christ intended for women, many of whom rise to lead positive change within their families and communities.
- Product distribution: If you know of a store or online site willing to carry our products, we’d love the introduction.
- Amazon.com: We are looking for someone who has expertise in building an Amazon store page, and who will volunteer to build Hands of Freedom’s Amazon page.
If you can help or know of anyone who might be open to helping, please reach out to Robin Kocina at Robin@mediarelations.com.