India: helping the Dalits despite upper caste resistance

Flooding triggered by seasonal monsoons in India have recently left hundreds of Dalit villages swamped as a result of overflowing rivers and dams. Some areas received two years' worth of rainfall in three days; and in the Barmer District of Rajasthan, both high-caste families (the wealthy) and low-caste families (the poorest) -- the latter known as Dalits or untouchables -- were marooned on sand dunes.

When camps were set up for the displaced, however, members of higher castes chased Dalit families away, denying them food and clean drinking water. But K.P. Yohannan, founder and president of Gospel for Asia (GFA), says the Christian ministry's missionaries are reaching out to assist all victims of the floods, regardless of caste.

"We have given top priority to work among these Dalits during these times of flooding and crises," Yohannan notes. "Many hundreds of our workers are bringing food, clothes, and water and working among these people," he says.

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