- Location: Delhi, India
- School Capacity: 200 children
The Asray Slum School started only a few years ago under the care of Pastor Josapha. Asray is the local word for “refuge.” Pastor Jo was born into a Hindu family. Though his mother worked, Jo did not go to school. His father, who was a leper, spent all their money on alcohol. Jo was even afraid to talk to his father, because he never knew if he would get a beating for asking questions.
One day Jo was playing in the streets of the leper colony – he had no shoes and hardly any clothes on – when he saw a big man in front of him. That man was Dr. M.A. Thomas. Dr. Thomas began asking him questions, but he was scared and shy and ran straight home to his mother. A little later that day, Dr. Thomas came to his home and asked his mother if she’d like to send Jo to the Hope Home, where he’d be fed and have an education. His mother was willing to send him, knowing he would not get an education otherwise. So in 1982, she took five-year-old Jo to the home and left him there, telling him she was going to the market to get things for him and she’d be back. But she didn’t come back.
Though Jo received education, food, clothing and spiritual guidance, he felt hopeless and abandoned at the home. He learned about God and wondered why God would let this happen to him – let his mother leave him alone in a strange place. But God had a plan for Jo, who slowly began to grow close to God. Jo remembers that the Lord never left him sad – everyone in the Hope Home loved and cared for him. He spent 17 years at the Hope Home, attending primary school then Bible college.
When he graduated in 2000, Jo returned to the leper colony to minister to the people where he had grown up. There he met his wife and they began a church together. Slowly, their small church began helping families (as they could) in the community. As the congregation grew and they were able to help more, they decided to tackle the need for education in the leper colony. They began teaching classes and were able to grow into an all day school, the Asray Slum School.
Today, about 200 students attend the Asray Slum School four and a half hours a day – 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. Twice a week the children receive fresh fruit and refreshments before going home. Pastor Jo says that soon they will be able to do this every day. The kids look forward to Saturdays which are filled with fun activities from drawing competitions to play time to storytelling. Since this activity day has started, fewer children are missing classes during the week. Some even come earlier because they like school a lot! The community is happy to see their children with dreams they can accomplish after they complete their studies.
The Asray Slum School has also given Hopegivers the opportunity to share Christ with the families. Parents welcome teachers into their homes to pray for them; some even ask for advice for family problems.