We've just returned home from our wonderful two week trip to India and Thailand. From galavanting around Vijayawada through the monsoon seasons to connect with our Pillalu Project. To scooting through Chiang Rai and beginning a new partnership: it's been an incredibly fruitful, and packed trip!
We arrived in Vijaywada, after a few days of flying to India and connected with our contacts in Hyderabad. When we arrived, we were welcomed by not only hugs and kisses, but lots of water. We arrived right in the middle of the monsoon season. But that didn't stop us one bit.
The first part of our trip was spent with Chinni, helping her to get her new business up and running. Over the past years, while Chinni has been running the Pillalu House, she has struggled to provide for herself and two young daughters. When Chinni's husband Raj unexpectedly passed away back in 2015, Chinni was left without finances, without a home, job, or proper education. Over the years, with the help of many, we've been providing for those needs, while setting her up long term to be self-sustainable.
The first start to being self-sustainable was confidence and education. We helped Chinni go through a six-month social business training school. She learned not only how to run a small business but dare to say yes to the one she wanted. From this school, she decided to open a small clothing business. She would buy, sell, and tailor clothes for women in her region. After the business school, Chinni attended training in clothing altering and making. While in Vijayawada, we connected Chinni with a team of business coaches, as well as some locals who are currently working in the same clothing field. The last step has been starting her out with a microloan, helping her launch and praying it succeeds!
Every single one of the steps that Chinni has taken has been monumental steps forward. Growing up as a woman in the rural parts of India is challenging, and becoming a widow made it even more challenging to succeed. Watching Chinni claw her way to independence and fight wholeheartedly for her dreams, has been one of the most humbling and powerful parts of our work. We could not be more proud of Chinni, and we are very excited to see where her small business brings her and her girls to bigger things!
From the city, we drove out to the farmlands to see our cherished Pillalu kids! While there, we spent time hanging out with the children, catching up, playing games and music, and getting updates from them and the families on how things are going. And the news that came was quite a surprise!
At the beginning of the year, the government decided to push more industrial farming in the farmlands where most of the villagers work. In doing so, many of the villagers lost their jobs. When we first heard this, our hearts sunk, until we heard the follow-up. Because of this, they came together and decided to seek alternative work in the city of Vijayawada. And by the grace of God, most of them have found jobs that provided more finances for them and their families. Because of this turn in events, the families can now provide for the children at the Pillalu house.
This means that the village no longer requires our sponsorship for the children at the Pillalu House. We could not be more thrilled about this development. Being part of this village's journey, the past nine years has been incredible. To see them triumph through so much pain, poverty and hardship and come out on top has been incredible to witness. The small part that we were able to offer over the years has been nothing short of an honor, and we are so grateful that we were invited into and loved so well by some of the most incredible people.
We still plan to stay connected to the village. Our hearts will be forever locked in the green rice fields, ever-flowing chai and pearly white smiles of those precious little lions. We want to see them succeed. Grow up to be powerful Lions. So we plan to continue to stay connected and check in on them while we also check in on Chinni and the family.
To everyone who has been part of the story of the Pillalu House: we thank you! Whether you helped us start this project, visited, or support it, Chinni's family or Raj's medical needs some years back- we thank you. You have no idea the impact you have made on many people's lives. Children have been kept safe from risks of hunger, lack of education, trafficking, and forced labor. Families have been supported and championed to rise and claim more for their lives. Medical needs have been met, debts have been paid and a small family of little girls whose spirits could light up the whole earth, and a mother fiercer than most women I know, are getting a second chance at life. Your “yes”, opened the doors to many, many other yeses. So thank you. Thank you for partnering with us.
After India, we went to Thailand to partner with a new organization that provides for over 100 young girls at risk for human trafficking. We’ll share more about that soon!