Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 12, 2013

The Problem With Boys

Orissa, India

When I heard the dreaded sound of my alarm at two-o’clock this morning, I knew that snoozing was not an option. I had to get up to begin the second leg of my journey from New Delhi to the state of Orissa. The easiest part of today’s trek was the 5:00 AM flight aboard a crowded Air India plane. The toughest part was the six-hour drive from Bhubaneswar into the Khondhamal Hills, a painfully slow journey I first made in 1998.

IMG_2492My two-hour flight passed quickly as the young Indian salesman seated next to me and I discussed the headline that everyone was taking about — the alleged suicide of one of the men facing trial for the brutal gang rape that led to the death of a 23-year-old medical intern this past December. That horrible incident stirred the collective outrage of the nation. So, the death of one of the five accused of the crime drew little sympathy for the man who would likely have received three death sentences.

My old and dear friend Sudhansu met me at the tiny domestic airport in Bhubaneswar. Sudhansu and I met and became life-long friends in 1998 when I visited Calvin Fox, an agriculturalist working in the Khondhamal Hills. Sudhansu’s father-in-law was one of the men responsible for the spread of Christianity among the Kui people at a time when wild elephants and tigers roamed these hills. He was a remarkable man whose legacy is still profoundly evident in villages nestled throughout these verdant hills.

Sudhansu is the Director of Bethany Home, the boarding home that we built to provide a safe haven and an education for boys from the poorest Christian families in the area. It’s been over a year since I last visited the boys. So, I have been looking forward to seeing them again and speaking with Sudhansu about the progress of our work here. When we finally arrived, the boys greeted us with garlands of flowers and cheers. And then Sudhansu and I slowly walked the campus and through the buildings to look at the progress of our work. I was more than encouraged by everything I saw.

IMG_2515
Our hope is to equip these boys to grow up to become strong leaders of their homes and the churches scattered throughout the Khondhamal Hills. There is little doubt we are headed in the right direction. With the final light of day slowly melting away, Sudhansu and I listened as the boys had their evening devotions, something that they do each and every night. I am always amazed and blessed when I hear these boys worshiping and studying the Scriptures together.

Bethany Home Panorama
Our boys are learning some important lessons at Bethany Home, including the fact that we are all created in the image of God and that life is to be valued and regarded with dignity. They are learning to be gentlemen who treat the opposite sex with respect and to not look at girls and women as objects to be treated with contempt.

As Sudhansu and I stood and listened to the boys this evening, I could not help but wonder how different things might have been for five other boys had they had this kind of training. Five boys who grew up to be men with a worldview that disregards the sanctity of human life. Five men who committed a crime against a young 23-year-old woman, a crime so terribly violent that it stirred the outrage of an entire nation.

India needs more than laws to fix the problem of how women are treated, it needs to train her boys to value women and regard them with dignity. The problem is not with women. The problem is with boys. It’s time to stop blaming women and to start bringing up boys the right way — teaching them by word and example to respect the opposite sex. If this does not happen soon, then India will increasingly continue to become one of the most dangerous places on the planet to be a girl. Our commitment at Bethany Home is to equip boys to love God and to love and treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve.


Responses

  1. So true, Omar. How wonderful for these boys to learn and grow to love God and love people and the many lives that will be positively affected by it.

    • We are so happy with this partnership and the opportunity to equip the next generation of boys to love God and love people in one of the most persecution-ridden places on the planet for Christians.


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