View from the Window

View from my window over Kolkata [Calcutta] stretching out for ever into the haze. It’s enormous, crowded and noisy. The only thing that makes car travel reasonably safe is the fact that nothing moves quickly – and horns are pumped constantly.

I’m here with Canon Bob Harley and Andrew Pont. We’ve been in Salt Lake City today visiting projects run by the Cathedral’s relief agency. For a diocese which is part of a small church, it’s very impressive.

We visited three projects during the day and saw beautifully turned-out small children being given a basic pre-school education and this group of women being given skills to increase their earning power. It’s hard to realise that these people are living in squatters’ huts by the river embankment.

There are many things which are impressive about what we saw. I know that I obsess a bit about minority church issues and it’s often not helpful. But this is a tiny minority church deeply engaged with the issues of the whole society in which it is set. They aren’t looking after themselves ‘over there’ – nor are they allowing their clergy to become simply chaplains. They are well beyond that and we can learn from them.

They also are attempting to deal with the roots of the issues with which they are engaged. When they talk about empowerment for women …. they are teaching skills but also teaching women how to make use of those skills to build a better life for themselves and their families. So they are into micro-finance .. and dealing with the problems of connecting people who don’t have addresses, National Insurance numbers or any of the everyday stuff of life with the possibility of a new future.

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