More than 3 million men, women and children in India’s capital city are homeless. They choose to sleep on the streets regardless of the weather. As I write, it is 3:45 a.m. in Delhi and the temperature is 43° F.
Delhi offers shelters of various types for its homeless population. Some shelters are available in permanent buildings, others are in portacabins and some are tent structures.
Many of these people have made their way to the bustling urban area hoping to find work and a way out of their misery. Their dreams come crashing onto the concrete when they discover they lack the education and skill sets required for jobs in the city. By the time they realize how desperate their situation is, they don’t even have a way to pay rent for a roof over their heads in the city’s slums.
So, they sleep on the streets, some in makeshift tents but most with nothing but their clothes and, perhaps, a tarp or mat to sleep on. The Sleep Number® on their ‘beds’ is zero.
Sadly, many of these people eschew the idea of sleeping in the crowded shelters, most of which are provided by NGOs under contract to the city. Each person is allotted only 50 square feet of space.
Many choose to sleep in the street because of the drunken brawls, theft, rape and other crimes rampant in the shelters. Earlier this year, rescue teams from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) reported that more than 1,100 people sleeping on the streets around the city refused to relocate to shelters. The Hindustan Times said they cited reasons such as unhygienic conditions, fear of theft, lack of space and brawls involving junkies.
Our hearts break as we read about circumstances beyond the scope of our comprehension. However, our inability to grasp the situation makes it no less real. We barely have words adequate to explain their state of affairs.
Several years ago, a Gospel for Asia (GFA) correspondent visiting a part of Asia during the winter months was overtaken with compassion when she witnessed the reality before her.
As the road intersected underneath several overpasses, hundreds of people could be seen lying on the roadside. The situation looked so desperate that it was difficult to hold back my tears. I saw a mother sitting on the cold concrete, feeding her infant child. I saw men huddled together without jackets, sweaters, hats or gloves. The saddest was seeing people who covered themselves with plastic tarps or worn-out bamboo mats. The whole situation suddenly became real, and I knew at that point that this truly was a crisis.
However, we serve the living God who came to save us from our crisis-bound lives. When we pause to reflect upon their condition through Jesus’ eyes, He shows us the opportunity to get the Word on the streets. At Gospel for Asia (GFA), we do that by helping in practical ways to meet the needs of these people enslaved by poverty and hopelessness. Offering blankets to shivering citizens of the streets is one way we demonstrate love and kindness in the name of Jesus, enabling us to share the Word on the streets.
Pray for the believers in Asia and the pastors and workers as they supply blankets and warm clothing for people who suffer with perpetual physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Pray for our partners in Asia as they provide blankets and the Word on the street.
To read more news on Poverty on Missions Box, go here.
- Hindustan Times, Delhi rushes to house its homeless as temperatures plummet
- Gospel for Asia. Blankets Bring Warmth to a Shivering City
- Hindustan Times, Delhi is homeless capital with three districts among India’s worst six
- Hindustan Times, Homeless women: Easy Targets
- Hindustan Times, 1100 homeless people prefer streets overnight shelters: Delhi shelter board
- Wikipedia, Homelessness in India
- Gospel for Asia, Photo of the Day