Tearfund Australia has enjoyed a rich, mutually supportive relationship with the Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR) since our earliest days. The first project Tearfund supported – in August 1971 – was an EFICOR project providing relief for refugees from East Pakistan.
This important partnership continues today through community development programs including adult literacy, Self-Help Groups, youth programs, and training for rural people in areas like kitchen gardening and conservation farming, to help strengthen communities and build resilience in the face of climate change.
Ramesh Babu, EFICOR’s Executive Director, says: “Tearfund Australia and EFICOR started nearly at the same time and have journeyed together as co-workers and friends over these last 50 years. Tearfund is not just our partner but an organisation that has supported and trusted us.
“We highly value the contribution of Tearfund and together we have made huge changes within India. We have worked together not only in projects, but have also learned from each other through many years of In-DEEP programs [immersion experiences which, over the last 30 years, have offered Australian Christians the opportunity to spend seven weeks living in India learning directly from EFICOR about its work].
“Ours is truly a partnership where we have walked together and learned from each other. May we walk and work together for many more years.”
Oh Lord, let your light shine through Tearfund in different darkest places as it serves through partners like EFICOR. You bless Tearfund with abundant favour, grace and wisdom that it will continue to demonstrate love and justice in vulnerable communities. May Tearfund continue to work to extend your kingdom across the globe and reach to the unreached with the fullness of life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mugemma, a young woman from a village in Andhra Pradesh, is involved in a Self-Help Group set up by EFICOR. These groups play an important role in communities, offering people a way to come together for training and support, helping them to access things they’re entitled to, and supporting them to get on their feet financially through members making small, regular savings and being able to take small loans from the group.
“In my village we did not have toilets or bathrooms, so we used to go for open defecation,” Mugemma says. “It is scary and insecure, and we feel bad about it. There was fear of snakes and scorpions.”
The women raised the issue with EFICOR staff during one of their group meetings, and the staff helped them to apply for toilets to be installed under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission), a country-wide campaign initiated by the Indian Government in 2014 to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management.
“The women were very happy to have toilets and now feel secure and safe from all sorts of dangers,” Mugemma says. “All the ladies of the villages are using toilets. Apart from this, we have also benefited with clean drinking water, roads, houses and pensions. I am grateful to EFICOR and Tearfund Australia.”
Aulla tried farming different crops over the years but had limited success in getting really good harvests. Aulla is a member of the Chenchu in India, a forest dwelling tribal people who traditionally hunted for and gathered their food. Having lost access to the forests that used to sustain them, Aulla and other Chenchu people are doing what they can to adapt to life on the land, and EFICOR is walking alongside them, equipping them with seeds, tools and the farming know-how to grow good crops, as well as helping them get connected with government schemes and entitlements they may be able to gain access to.
With no irrigation on his land, though, Aulla was only able to grow one crop each year, so he continued to make a loss on his farming. With encouragement and support from EFICOR, he successfully applied for a bore hole with a solar powered pump through a government scheme. Now, he can grow two crops each year – one with the monsoon rains, another in the dry season – and he has finally been farming profitably.
“This year I cultivated black gram [a pulse] and gained a profit,” Aulla says. “Thank you to EFICOR and Tearfund Australia.”
Ramkanya, from the village of Mau in India, hopes to become a teacher. As well as studying at school, she helps her mother with fetching water for cooking food and rearing cattle. EFICOR has supported Ramkanya’s family by providing labour work which has helped them to earn an income, and purchase a goat for livelihood support.