BIRDS represents hope, the power of faith, and the goodness and potential of the human spirit and heart. My dearest Ahna, (brother) The Rev. Paul Raja Rao, continues to inspire and teach with his unquenchable energy and hope in bettering the lives of the poorest of the poor in Central India.
I have had the privilege of living and working at the BIRDS center near Muthalyapadu several times. When guests arrive at the BIRDS center they are always greeted by every man, woman and child who is there! Every staff person, farmer, cook, child, doctor, chauffeur, is there with a broad smile, waving their arms and shooting greetings. “Leis” of flowers are ceremoniously placed around your neck with hugs and kisses. A local flute and drum band plays and everyone dances down the road. THis takes place even if we arrive at 2 am in the morning!
BIRDS is the defination of “gracious hospitality” and “joy” for me. I have come to believe that true “Joy” can only experienced in the face of struggle and despair. In the small rural villages of the Dalits, where people live in poverty, disease, and oppression by other castes, you will understand the true source of joy, family, faith, hope, daily bread, and friendship.
When our teams have asked Paul to explain how our presence can cause such a stir, or how people can be so grateful when we are doing so little in our short visits, Paul has explained that the presence of friends from outside the villages, friends who would come from around the world to listen and be with them, helps them to feel that their lives are valued by God and that there is reason to hold onto hope for a better future. I have gained so much and given so little by BIRDS. BIRDS is the faces of friends, like my child friend Priscilla, who have become a long and strong strand of hope and love woven deeply into the fabric of my life.
Barbara Campbell/Pastor of St. Mark’s Church/Albany, OR