(Latest update: God sent rain. This morning. An answer to prayer!)

Garbage Smoke 01Right now SAIACS is going through a different kind of struggle; we are enveloped in a cloud of smoke from burning garbage.

There are two garbage dumps around SAIACS that are up in flames. The one huge garbage dump behind SAIACS has been a problem for over 5 years, with some local villagers supporting the garbage dump because their ‘livelihood’ depends on it. In fact, they burn the garbage to redeem the metal through in trash, which they then sell. When one of our staff went to confront a few of the people burning the trash, saying that burning garbage is harmful for health, the people replied, “So what?

Give the doctors some work to do!” While that apathy is understandable to some degree, the other story is more insanely pathetic. The other garbage dump, in front of SAIACS, is on a much smaller one-plot space that is privately owned. The rumour is that an influential member of the Kothanur village owns this plot and is allowing garbage dumping on his property so that he can burn it and use the ashes for his garden! Of course he’s not understanding that Plastic/paper etc burning is actually harmful to him and his land!Garbage Smoke 02

Two opposing sides have a terrible effect on the campus. When the wind is blowing one way, at least one of the garbage dumps flames envelop the campus in a misty haze. When the wind changes, there is no relief, it’s smoke from the other side. Of course, SAIACS is not the only one suffering, but many from the local Kothanur community, most of them newly moved residents.

Of course there has been an effort to alert the authorities, but if you know the Indian context… you’d know that the apathy/indifference/inertia that anyone would face is not abnormal.

Final resort… or first-step… prayer. Right now, we’re thankful that the students are on leave… and so only remaining support staff and faculty are suffering. However, this problem is so much bigger than us… and we need God’s intervention. Especially for the village that depends on the garbage for their sustenance.

Of course… we are all party to the problem. We all dish out a lot of garbage!

For movements forward, I think of ACTS institute in Bangalore as a positive example of garbage disposal, as they experiment with (and implement) vermi-composting for their garbage. Perhaps SAIACS one day will move forward in its own garbage disposal programmes.Garbage Smoke 03

Currently at SAIACS we recycle our water. We use solar heating. And we also try to segregate garbage. However, our segregation is not consistently implemented by resident families, and more importantly, the government muncipal disposal units in our region are still incapable of dealing with segregated garbage (they mix everything!).

What then are we to do?

Yes, as Christians we need to pray. And pray harder.

For those who are not Christians, this may seem odd. But we know that our God is able to act, especially when things are out of our control.

I don’t know the solution. I don’t know what will happen. But I hope I will never fail to trust God who can act for the benefit of the poor… and for the suffering.