Learning at Cornerstone
This past January, I visited one of our partners in India–Duars Rural Development Project (DRDP)—led by a visionary and godly man by the name of Nicholas Narjinary. I travelled for four days with Nicholas to various ministry centres and saw his heart for God and the people of West Bengal (a state in India). I also witnessed the respect that people have for him. At 70 years, his legacy of leadership is evident throughout the region. I felt like I was spending four days with the apostle Paul! I wish you could one day have the opportunity to experience a Christian leader like Nicholas.
At one point we had travelled over three hours from Nicholas’ home to visit a ministry centre. It was dark, and we were lost in a tea plantation. Our driver stopped to ask some people for directions. When the people saw Nicholas, their eyes lit up and smiles formed on their faces. While I don’t understand Bengali, I could make out the English word “uncle,” which was said with great enthusiasm. These young people were glad to see Nicholas and gave us some very animated directions. We carried on our way, eventually making it to our destination. This kind of lively exchange happened half a dozen times in the four days I was with Nicholas.
I had the privilege of visiting one of DRDP’s most significant initiatives—Cornerstone School. Our small team stayed on the Cornerstone School compound. We got to experience a school assembly and project fair, where the students could show their parents and us what they were learning and how it applied to their lives. With clear English, exceptional politeness and deference to adults common in that region, the students demonstrated their skills and learning. They taught us about the solar system, our planet’s various systems, and how the human body works. We observed their artwork, poetry and beautiful crafts, as well as their work in the computer lab and the classroom. During the assembly, the students demonstrated dance, song, and read poetry.
The most impactful moments for me were when the students publicly shared from the stage at the assembly, the testimony of their faith. What an encouragement!
The vision of Cornerstone School is to both educate and disciple children in this very rural, remote part of India. Children in this area have few opportunities for quality education, and many adults in the region have subsistence incomes based on agricultural or roadside shops. Tea plantation workers often experience a limited future for their own lives and the lives of their children. In this region, it is a real challenge to follow Jesus.
Cornerstone School enables DRDP to educate and disciple young people. They are taught to read and write in Bengali and English. Not only does this radically improve the opportunities for employment down the road, but it also provides them with the tools they need to grow in their faith. Graduates from the school leave equipped to lead in their culture. Education at Cornerstone provides a way for children to rise above generational poverty.
Our Canadian donors who partner with us in our support of DRDP are truly helping us to transform the lives of young people in West Bengal. These young people will emerge as leaders in their communities and beyond. They are growing in their faith and receiving an excellent education, school uniforms, and when needed shelter, food, and nurturing care.
DRDP is strategically investing in the next generation in their state. Cornerstone school is helping to break the cycle of poverty and is raising a generation of young faithful leaders.