I WILL BE VISITING SOUTH INDIA AGAIN IN FEBRUARY 2014. LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE A FRIEND OR A PROJECT YOU WISH ME TO VISIT. IF YOU WISH TO CONTRIBUTE TO OUR CHARITY ~ FRIENDS OF THE POOR IN SOUTH INDIA ~ GET IN TOUCH WITH ME BY EMAIL BY CLICKING HERE.
As a young student, in 1968, Laurie Green went to New York to continue his studies and hasrecognised the importance of the international perspective ever since. The British are an island race, and his own generation grew up knowing the British Empire. He ha
s written on imperialism in church and society and has more recently been concerned that the church must understand the impli
Later on this page there is more on Globalisation but most recently Laurie's travelling has taken him into much closer relationship with India.cations of globalisation. He wrote The Impact of the Global in 2000 and it has since been translated into Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Tamil. He has strong links with the Church in Sweden through his work with Bishop Bengt Wadensjo’s Stockholm based Institute for Social Analysis. He was a co-founder of the Anglican Urban Network which has taken him to Brazil, Dubai, Canada, India and back to the United States where he has often lectured on urban globalisation.
Laurie has been travelling in India for some years, teaching at Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary, lecturing in Bangalore and Madurai and speaking at an international conference on Urban Globalisation. He also goes simply because he's in love with India, it's food, it's music and so much more. On this page you'll find a lot about his various activiities there as well as other material on Globalisation - a topic on which Laurie has published an interesting book.
When I first visited Chennai (Madras) I noticed a young child sitting by the road selling peanuts. Her little fingers had carefully rolled up pieces of newspaper into cones and into them she placed her peanuts for sale. If she sold enough cones to passers by she would have made enough to afford a little rice to eat that day. But there were not many takers. There was no smile in her deep dark eyes, only a gaze fixed on a very distant horizon. The affluence of us westerners is so precious to us that we would find it hard to share even "peanuts" with her. I often wonder if she is still alive.
Helping the Poor FREINDS OF THE POOR IN SOUTH INDIA
WINTER 2012 NEWSLETTER:
The first newsletter from
FRIENDS OF THE POOR IN SOUTH INDIA
Welcome to this, our first opportunity to make contact with all those who have been kind enough to take an interest in our small but vibrant charity. We are turning lives around by injecting small loans into some of the poorest villages in the world.
Bringing you up to date
Our charity is run by a small group of Friends who themselves pay for all the overheads, including regular visits to India to make sure that the projects are delivering all that we hope for. This way we keep tabs on all the loans and meet the recipients to make sure their lives are really benefitting. We’ve only been going for a few years and rely largely on small gifts from people like you. So far this has enabled things like this to happen –
Six grants to RIDO (total of £11,800!)
This was our first real contact group in South India. Chris Brown and Bishop Laurie Green got to know them and were so impressed with their work that those running their projects have now become close friends and colleagues.
We have made loans to co-operative women’s groups in poor villages which have issued in brilliant results. Ventures such as Cow-rearing and Rope-making have been key features, and also training to use sewing machines which eventually become the property of the students!
PS: We have recently set up a Worm Fertilizer station in one of our villages which makes organic fertilizer utilizing 'Red Wriggler' worms. The organic fertilizer is then sold to surrounding villages for their crops instead of the industrial fertilizers which are very dangerous to use without proper training (which is not given!) The project is so far going very well. The profits will be re-cycled like all our grants so that villages in other areas can then be sponsored with the returned money - so the whole thing goes around again. Long live the Red Wriggler!
New Village Venture (total of £5,787!)
For this we venture off into the hill country to meet people who are rejected by Indian society. Many are hidden away in the most remote of places – it’s quite an adventure getting to them! During our time with them, the people of one of these remote villages have been transformed.
Four grants to TRRM (total £8,702!)
It’s quite a journey to the south east coast across the water from Sri Lanka. There, TRRM helps us link up with those who inhabit hovels by the sea and collect sea-shells, or sort fish to scrape a living. We’ve seen tremendous improvement here.
Two grants to Education (total £1300!)
This is a very new venture in Dindigal, but already education for the youngsters and work with disregarded widows has borne fruit.
Many of our projects start by helping the women create their own co-operative. They keep records of their meetings and each member has their own re-payment book so they know when they have paid their loan and a new member can start to benefit. In this way they have secured their own means of earning for the future, feel the security of the co-operative of friends – and have learnt a skill to go with their purchased equipment.
Other grants are being made to new projects right now, but we’ll tell you about those next time. Meanwhile, here’s a take on how it feels to be personally involved in the Friends.
TRAVELLING FOR THE ‘FRIENDS’
Describing the experience of arriving in India to those who have never been is an impossible task. All the senses are overwhelmed by the differences! How can there be so many people crowded into such small spaces? How can this heat be natural, and the dust, fumes and stink be at all healthy? Why is there such an abundance of colour and vitality when all around seems so diminished by abject poverty? How can this pulsating music and exotic food be so sustaining both physically and spiritually? And why oh why, are all these impoverished people smiling?
The mystery that is India hits you as soon as you get off the plane and walk into the airport reception hall. Tiny children come running to clean your shoes or carry your luggage for the price of a cashew nut. Even the advertising hoardings speak of another world –not shouting at you ‘because you’re worth it’ but offering aphorisms to challenge the reader: ‘the wise make failures equal to success’, and ‘now is the auspicious time’.
And then we are greeted by the eager faces of those who have driven miles on impossible roads to collect the two of us. These are the Indian workers who are helping Friends of the Poor in South India make realistic contact with those who are at the very bottom of the pile – the poorest of the poor.
Chris Brown, our secretary, and I are humbled by their exuberant hospitality – showering us with garlands of cardamom and jasmine – for we have come half way round the world to offer a tiny service to them on behalf of our donors back in the UK.
They spin us off in the truck and from now on, for the next week on the hot and dusty roads, it will be non-stop visits to see for ourselves what miracles can be done for so many with so little. Each pound sterling which our donors give to Friends of the Poor in South India is turned into life-enhancing opportunities by the people in the projects which we are honoured to support.
We go first to Dindigul where our friend Jeshuran has used our donation to transform the lives of women who are ostracized by society because they are widows or orphans who have had to undertake unspeakable tasks to earn enough to feed themselves.
When I first encountered such a group I asked them to tell me what their problems were, and I had a long list of heart-rending issues. To lighten my questioning I then enquired about what happiness they had in their lives. They looked puzzled at such a question and obviously found it difficult to answer. When I pressed them, one woman eventually said that she felt happy if she had a day when she could find some street-cleaning work to earn a few pence to feed her child. Her predicament made me feel ashamed of my western wealth, when this was the sum of her happiness. We were pleased nevertheless to make a grant towards their project.
When I returned to that same group of women two years later, I found the same women beaming with joy, not able to contain themselves, bursting with stories of all that had happened to them for good!
They had learnt new skills, created a village co-operative, invested our grant in the equipment to make tourist gifts from sea shells and were now looking at the next project which they themselves had developed – opening a small shop to sell their produce and offer teas and refreshments too. They had come alive, not just economically, but their self-respect and their human dignity had returned. It was quite overwhelming.
And this is just one small glimpse of what is happening for so many women just like them in so many poor villages, just because of the small grants that we offer through Friends of the Poor in South India.
Wherever we went, those village women pleaded with us to thank all those who have given them this help to be human again. So, Chris Brown and I pass on to you now, the heart-felt thanks of all those whose lives have been changed because of your generosity. Thank you.
Bishop Laurie Green - Chair of the Friends
MAKE A DONATION TO
THE FRIENDS OF THE POOR IN SOUTH INDIA
Gifts large and small are vital to the life of the projects we work with.
Together we can do so much with so little.
I enclose my cheque/postal order/ charity voucher made payable to the Friends of the Poor in South India, (or contact us direct for more information)
Registered Charity in England and Wales number 1126907
Trip to India 2010
I went to India this year but I am still to put that material on line. Back in 2010 i went with two purposes in mind. First, to attend a conference in Bangalore on the subject of Post-Colonial Theology – how the history of Empire still insinuates itself into our international relationships and even affects the way we think about ourselves and others. My part in the conference was to give the inaugural address and also to serve on a panel discussing recent post-colonial tendencies in ecclesiology – what vestiges of domination-behaviour are still to be found in church life and structure.
My second purpose in visiting India was to journey southward to explore with local project workers the plight of some of the poorest of the world’s inhabitants. Venturing deep into the blisteringly hot forests to listen to the dispossessed so-called “tribal” peoples, as they shared something of their suffering, was humbling – and their hospitality amidst their iron-age domestic circumstances was deeply moving. I also shared the life of the fisher folk of the east coast who struggle to maintain any semblance of acceptable standard of life. They welcomed me into their homes which were simply huts made of mud or old torn sheets and they delighted in sharing their few scraps of food – and were distressed if I should not accept it readily.
In some villages, local workers are bringing the women together to create co-operatives, providing the villagers with the wherewithal to work and make a living to feed themselves and their families. The work of these co-operatives is so inspiring and the villagers so hardworking and enthusiastic that some projects are really taking off. I have therefore joined up with a few others here in the UK to create a small charity called “Friends of the Poor in South India” so that we can send contributions to those projects we found most inspiring. Providing a goat, a cow, sewing machines or rope making equipment can produce the wherewithal for a village to turn itself from destitution into a vibrant and empowering community. They are managing to earn a little extra in order to pay back the cost of our grant so that we can help the next village in turn. So the one donation is recycled time and time again and in this way we are seeing hundreds of families move from destitution to empowerment.
I cannot begin to describe my emotions on meeting these people in their tiny forlorn homes, seeing them struggle to care for one another and their rejoicing at even being noticed by the outside world. If you feel you can help, do make contact and I will send you the address for donations. We have formed a registered charity so you can even gift-aid it so that the Government adds the tax onto what you donate. I can guarantee it will go to the poor – we have no administration costs because our charity is so small and we are in personal contact with the poor villagers themselves and we do not go through any big institutions to reach them.
Just one other thing, on my way home I stayed for a while in Dubai – renowned for its wealth – but I stayed with the Anglican Chaplaincy which is also working with the desperately poor workers who are constructing this playground for the rich. They too live in atrocious conditions in men-only work camps outside city limits and are bussed in and out to work their gruelling shifts on the great skyscrapers of the city. There is no unionisation and the work is very dangerous and they have no redress, even though many workers lose their lives in the construction process. The Anglican Chaplaincy is deeply caring for all concerned and the Dubai Government allows the Christian community to worship on Fridays so it was there that I was pleased to conduct a confirmation service.
I returned to the UK having gained what feels like a thousand new friends – their beaming faces amidst their desperation remain fixed in my memory.
Regarding the conference on Post-Colonial Theology, if you wish to partake of this fascinating discipline, then join the on-line international seminar which continues daily athttp://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=23694574926
LAURIE'S SABBATICAL VISIT TO INDIA IN 2005
Address at the Madurai & Ramnad Diocesan Synod, 12th November 2005
International Development and the Kingdom of God, a talk given at the American College, Madurai, 15th November 2005
Anglican Urban Network
Anglican Urban Network India Seminar, 19-22 January 2008
Urban Seminar, Madurai, India, 2008
Lambeth Meeting on Urbanisation, 7th August 1998
The Proposal document for the setting up of the Anglican Urban Network: Towards an International Anglican Network and Commission on Faith in an Urban World, February 1999
Addressing the Global City, Texas 2002
The Kingdom of God and the Year of Jubilee, January 1997
Jesus and the Jubilee, Bradwell Papers 4, 1997
International Debt, Jubilee 2000 Peoples Summit, 1998
The word ‘globalisation’ first appeared in an advertisement for American Express Cards. It has come to represent a world where we observe an intimate connection both economically and socially into a dominating cultural totality. Against this pressure for unification is a backlash of localisation where each culture and subculture thrusts against its own extinction – what has been called identity politics. Western capitalism is ahead of this backlash with the concept of ‘glocalisation’ (originally a Japanese concept) where the control remains central but the impression is given that the local is the market’s major concern. With Neo-liberalism has come the rise of the notion that the Market is God – and globalisation today has a distinct neo-liberal flavour. Bishop Laurie’s international travel has informed his thinking and writing on this important subject – and his understanding is that we cannot understand either Globalisation nor Urbanisation today without appreciating how the one is dynamically interconnected to the other.
Favela in Sao Paolo, Brazil
Addressing Urbanisation - A way forward for the Anglican Communion, September 2000
Addressing the Global City, Texas 2002
Urban Ministry in a Global Context, address at book launch of Urban Ministry and the Kingdom of God, SPCK, 2003
The Kingdom Vision, a talk given at the AGM of the Episcopal City Mission, Massachusetts, June 2005
Globalisation and Christian Living, a talk given at 'Wellspring 2005' in Kent