Choosing School
Ashish’s father is a farmer, as was his grandfather, and their grandfathers before that. Even as farming becomes less likely to sustain a family, Ashish and his parents planned on him becoming a farmer, too.

By Sarah K, Asia del Sur

Many kids in rural South Asia are sent to work in the fields when they're young. Parents don't see education as a valuable investment for their kids if they're to be simple farmers in the future - Photo by Sarah K.

Ashish’s father is a farmer, as was his grandfather, and their grandfathers before that. Even as farming becomes less likely to sustain a family, Ashish and his parents planned on him becoming a farmer, too. That’s why, after Ashish finished the second grade, his parents pulled him out of school to help with the field work.

 Sachhi left school after the third grade for the same reason. “What would a girl do with education?” Sacchi’s parents reasoned. “Reading and writing aren’t required for housework.”

 In addition, once girls passed the lower grades, there was nowhere close by for them to study. The closest high school was several hours away - too far for a daughter of any respectable family to travel alone.

 Nearly everyone in Ashish and Sachhi’s village thought the same way. Families rarely sent their girls to school, and only families who could afford to lose a pair of field work hands sent their sons. The local school was sparsely attended and suffered from a lack of vision for its students.

 Then Chetna, a ministry of the Emmanual Hospital Association and partner with SIM, arrived in the area. As they settled there, they began chatting with the headmaster and residents of the neighboring three villages. As Chetna does its community health and development work, it surveys villages and finds ways for communities to solve their own problems. Chetna staff began encouraging parents to send their kids to school, pointing out the benefits of educating their daughters as well as their sons. This sort of thinking was new to the villagers, and it took a while for them to decide.

 Slowly, parents began pulling their sons from the field and sending them back to school. Daughters emerged from the kitchen and dug out their old school books. Soon there were more young people who were going to school than not. The local school gained momentum and excitement with all the new students – hiring new teachers as their enrollment swelled to five hundred children.

 Now, all of Ashish’s friends – all the boys from his neighborhood - attend school. Sachhi still knows girls who aren’t coming to school, even though she’s now studying in seventh grade and loves math. The grades below her, though, are full of girls – they even outnumber the boys in one classroom! Ashish and Sachhi both say they plan on becoming doctors, turning down the corners of their mouths at the suggestion of an “easier” profession.

 Sachhi’s father is excited his daughter is studying, “She’ll be a big person one day,” he tells anyone who’ll listen.

Pray for Chetna and SIM partners as they work among the rural farmers of Southeast Asia to help people gain a better education and develop community health,and consider giving to projects like these at SIM. Pray for the gospel to go out among these rural communities and that many will turn to Christ.

Want to use your health care or education background as a missionary for Christ? Contact SIM.