“Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God or our salvation!
Our God is the God of salvation.” Ps 68:19
In the humid heat of a pollution-smothered sun I walked through the streets of Calcutta for the last time. Someone wrote an elegy to Calcutta while walking down these same streets: “this historic city may be among the most unpleasant environments on the face of the earth: the masses of people, the choking pollution, the clogged drains, the cramped bustees, the jumble of carts, the beggars and crippled children, the fetid piles of refuse being picked over by emaciated mothers in soiled saris, flea-bitten pariah dogs, and wildly cawing crows”. And that was only in his introduction. Calcutta has drawn the attention of many: Mark Twain said it was “enough to make the brass doorknob mushy”, Winston Churchill said he would “always be glad to have seen it but it would be unnecessary for [him] ever to see it again”, Rudyard Kipling called it “the city of dreadful night”, and Bengal’s first Governor called it “the most wicked place in the universe.”
While it is comforting to know that so many leave Calcutta with the same feelings of repugnance as I have, I would be grievously remiss to overlook the overarching and intertwining goodness of God in my work there. To claim the promises of God found in Scripture on behalf of the widows, orphans, destitute, and forsaken in Calcutta brings a hope that is not often written about. So while I still do not know the depth nor breadth of God’s purposes for taking me to Calcutta, I can praise Him for the work which He has accomplished there, and share with you so that you might join in giving thanks to our gracious God and Father. All of the ministry houses are called Asha Neketon, once again meaning “Shelter of Hope”:
Asha Neketon Sodpor: This was the first trade school/ministry house that we opened, and now has 15 women involved making scarves, handbags, tablecloths/runners, handkerchiefs, and greeting cards. This is going to be the foundational ministry house, so I spent most of my time with the women there, teaching and preparing them to teach others after my departure. There are four women who will continue to be trained by the pastor and his wife so that they can begin other schools around the city.
Asha Neketon Village: There are three women working for us in the village now, one of them is particularly skilled and masterful in her work, so we have asked her to come to the city and teach at the other schools for a few weeks. God is raising up leaders from within all of the schools, which is quite a blessing.
Asha Neketon Street: We could not get this sorted out entirely before I left, but we have the location and women chosen to be involved. When two leaders have been trained from AN Sodpor they will go to the Street program and begin teaching there. This will hopefully transpire within six months time.
Asha Neketon Slum: One that I have not mentioned yet, located in the slums of South Kolkata, where a tailoring school has been started with 8 women. They come and learn how to tailor clothes, particularly clothes for school uniforms, and then sell them to local schools. In the upcoming months this will hopefully be expanded to include the making of the other items as well.
God has done amazing things during my time in Kolkata, and I look forward to seeing Him complete His purposes, whatever they might be. I had gone with the intention of starting one trade school, and watched as He prepared the way to have four opened. This was just one of the ways I was reminded that He accomplishes beyond what we could ever imagine!
I have now had some time in the UK recovering, reflecting, and relaxing. I am pursuing some different leads on places to sell the goods that the women are making, and will continue speaking to churches and organizations about the work being done in Kolkata. I will also be spending some time in Ireland debriefing with a dear friend and missionary, which I am very much looking forward to.
Finding a market for the items and lining them up with the Maity’s
That through my presentations churches might be challenged and encouraged by the state of believer’s in Kolkata
For my debriefing and reflection time
Thank you for your essential part in this ministry. I anticipate one more Update after I return to follow up with the fruition of these prayer requests.
In the peace of the Lord,
Nicole de Martimprey