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Third Stop in Jungle Trek

The third part of the jungle trek was really the true trek.  The last time we were able to visit this village was by motorcycle.  There is a semblance of a road weaving through the jungle now, but extremely rough with stones and ruts.  The forest was heavily covered with teak trees.  Unlike the jungle in July the teak trees are now brown and the leaves are small, still the abundance of them makes for an adventurous feeling. Rumors were that a tiger was roaming the area.  Loren’s dream is to see a tiger in the wild.

Banjari tribes are normally nomadic, but 100 years ago this tribe decided the area was a first-rate place to settle so it has become an established village.    

The Indian government gives little help so even the school system only goes up to the fourth standard/grade.  In fact while we were visiting the widow, we were ask if we could establish a hostel school for grades higher than fourth.

Children from all the surrounding villages would love to have a place for schooling.  The villagers have begun to realize that education is the only way they will ever progress.  In recent years, wealthy men from Nagpur have bought up the villagers’ former farmland for a second home/farm for entertainment.  This is the new wave to show wealth.

As we arrived at this hilly village the walk up the muddy path took some maneuvering.  The widow was waiting for us, and the Jersey cow and calf were contentedly lying in the hastily made lean-to shelter.

The widow was a little worried because the cow had not been eating, but Dr. Suresh assured her that it was simply adjusting to the new surroundings.  God really expanded both the widows’ gifts with offspring.  Awesome!!!

One of the signs of a married Banjari woman is her solid silver bracelets; wealth being shown by the number and size.  Also their colorful clothes are very distinctive.  They do not wear saris, but a multi-colored skirt and blouse with a long scarf over the head.  She let us see her face, which is VERY unusual.  Only her deep gratitude for the gift of the cow and calf let her consider us as family and not strangers.

There was a very unique knitted purse hanging from her skirt waistband.  Sylvia, opened mouth and inserted foot, by asking her about the purse.  Next thing I knew, she was emptying it and giving it to me as a gift.  No way I could refuse.  I still forget that giving a compliment sometimes means you will end up with the object of the compliment.  Nupi wanted to wash the purse for me.  I said, “NO, I love it just the way it
is.”

Being a widow for 25 years has been hard but the last three years were extreme.  She has had no money for food.  In order to survive she was forced to borrow, with huge interest, from almost every member of the village.  The cow is now giving her 8 liters of milk a day.  Selling part will eventually pay her loans and will buy food; the rest will enhance the diet of the family.

Her son lives with her in the family hut/home along with his wife and two sons.  He lost his job three years ago, too. We thought the children were girls because of their long hair.  Tradition dictates that the hair of a son cannot be cut until there is a goat sacrifice and feast for the entire village.  (This sacrifice thing again.)  In attendance must be TWO boys for the ceremony and of course, the slain goat and food for a feast.   Now, with the milk from the cow, this festival can take place much sooner.

There is always a crowd of onlookers but one of the more aggressive men of the village came into the area where we were sitting.  He was wearing an obviously new coat.  After some conversation, Loren made a comment about his coat.  He laughed and said, “It is cold for us now.  It is not cold for you because you come from a cold country.  That is why you are so white.”  Everyone had a good laugh.

This is the end of this trek to the jungle, at least for now.

Describing the impact of these animal gifts is difficult.  We are all so blessed, with so much.  Thank you so much for partnering with Prakash to make this kind of Christian influence materialize.  It is an honor to represent all of you.

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