Day laborers in South Asia. They are a wonderful, hardworking group of people numbered in the millions who are often overlooked, underpaid, and regarded as the lesser within society.
Many have families whom they have left behind at their rural homes to find work in the larger cities. Some bring their families with them in two. But, no matter their individual circumstance, to say their life is challenging is a gross understatement.
They are the backbone of economic success across South Asia. Without them, the middle and upper classes would not enjoy their lifestyles as much as they like to think. Why? Because the day laborers are the ones who clean the streets, clean the homes of the wealthy, work in jobs that pay minimally, dive into sewer pits to clean out our crap….literally, and do all the jobs most of us would not be caught dead doing. South Asia desperately needs these workers yet they are the ones most negatively affected when a crisis hits, like COVID-19.
In general, they work today to buy the food they eat today. They do not work today to buy tomorrow’s food. If they want to eat tomorrow, they must work tomorrow. They have no savings, or very little at best. But, I would not call any savings they might have a savings. What they manage to save would not last them months. It may last them a few days. If the opposite were true, there would be no need to provide them with food relief during this crisis. There would be no need for the government to give food rations, although what they claim to be handing out is not what is reported by my friends on the ground. While officials claim they are giving the poor three meals a day, most are lucky to just get one and I’m not talking about a three course meal.
Indian citizens who live outside of India have been offered free evacuations by flight out of the country where they live so they can return to India. It costs them nothing. Yet, the migrants trying to reach their homes in India, some walking hundreds of miles, must pay for train rides. For some, making payment for their train fare can mean they go without food during their journey on overcrowded trains. And, I do not mean trains where every seat is filled. I mean trains where every seat and standing space is filled.
Those who have taken on the task of walking home, hundreds of miles for some, there are a few incidents where migrants have died on a highway or while sleeping on train tracks. While many of us might consider the lack of wisdom in sleeping in these dangerous areas, let’s keep in mind the desperation, exhaustion, hunger, and the extreme heat these people are battling by walking hundreds of miles. Have you been to India during the summer? The heat is horrific at times. In one case, a lady who is 7 months pregnant was discovered walking the distance between Dallas, TX and Kansas City, MO just to get home. That’s 500 miles. She walked with little money and no food guarantees.
They do not receive regular unemployment checks. Their government is not handing out $1200 relief check to help. I understand that receiving unemployment checks in the US does not equal wealth or lack of difficulties and pain. But, these laborers in South Asia are receiving close to ZERO, ZILCH, NADA.
When the government imposed lockdowns end, the crisis for these day laborers will continue. Many jobs have been lost and it will take a long time for them to recover. Some have told my colleagues that if they are going to die of hunger, they would rather walk home and die with their family around them. They know their situation is dire.
It’s not all doom and gloom. God has moved many in the body of Christ to step up and be the hands and feet of Christ in this time of crisis. Food is being distributed, masks are being donated, bottled water is being provided, and more. I praise God for every one of these efforts, but all the efforts combined is only a drop in the bucket. The migrants and day laborers are in the millions and the need to display the love of Christ while proclaiming the Gospel message is vital because the vast majority have never had the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel one time.
You. Can. Help!
At Silk Road Catalyst, we are already helping those most affected. SRC missionaries have already distributed over 2,000 face masks, assisted nearly 250 families and university students with food supplies, and provided water bottles to those standing in long bread lines. Many have heard the Gospel, a few have given their lives to Christ, and we desire to do more.
We have multiple opportunities as resources become available and I’d like to ask you to consider partnering with us to help those most affected across South Asia. If you desire to help, click on the link below to give to our Silk Road Fund.
Even more important, please pray for the millions of day laborers and migrants across South Asia. The vast majority may not know Christ, but your prayers will help. As you pray, remember to pray for our field missionaries along with the many Christians and churches across South Asia who are serving diligently to assist the most vulnerable and affected across their region.
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