Imagine having no type of ID, not even a birth certificate. In fact, no one in your family has any kind of identification. Without this ID, you cannot go to school, be hired at a business, open a bank account, receive legal protection, or any number of other things. And imagine that without outside help you will never be able to get this identification becauseno one trusts your stigmatized caste.
Just think of trying to break the cycle of poverty in those circumstances!
Priya*, president of GATE, aka Gypsy And Tribal Empowerment, recognizes this need. This strong woman has successfully helped many Gypsy and Tribal communities in Tamil Nadu, South India, secure personal identification. These communities are legitimately the lowest one can possibly be in the Indian Caste system, even below the Untouchable Dalit caste.
It is an uphill battle, which requires long hours of wading through red tape, standing up to government officials, and helping illiterate families fill out paperwork. However, her success has helped Harvest Bridge establish ways to secure identification for other marginalized communities throughout India, and other South Asian countries. These will be taught to other Harvest Bridge partners who are fighting for the “nonexistent” individuals in their communities.
GATE was one of Harvest Bridge’s earliest supported ministries and has seen encouraging moves forward in over 20 Gypsy and Tribal communities.
John, an 11 year old boy has been impacted by the education to which he now has access because of GATE’s advocacy.
“After regularly going to school, I have learned to be more disciplined. I have learned to dress and talk better, and to obey my parents. My friends from the village and other areas help me study and I help them. I am more mature and confident. I will be able to be employed in the future, and that is what I like about school the most. My English teacher is my favorite and it is my favorite class. The teacher encourages me and does not beat me for being a Gypsy. If another boy did not want to go to school I would tell him to go so he could learn more; I would help him learn! Because of school I can talk about more things. I have taught my parents how to read the Bible and newspaper, and how to count money. GATE and Priya encouraged me to go to school. I want to be a doctor when I grow up so I can care for my village. Please pray for my education”.