India’s Menstruation Man :The Sanitary Pad Genius

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Arunachalam Muruganantham with one of his machines for making sanitary pads: Aljazeera

Arunachalam Muruganantham was obsessed with making the perfect sanitary pad for his wife. After years of work, his invention has changed the lives of millions of women in India. Arunachalam Muruganantham’s invention came at a great personal cost – he nearly lost his family, his money and his place in society. But he kept his sense of humour.

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It all began in 1998, when Arunachalam Muruganantham, the son of poor handloom weavers in South India, realised that his wife was using old rags to deal with menstruation because she couldn’t afford sanitary pads. Muruga was shocked. But he also saw a chance to impress her. He decided to produce her sanitary pads himself. At first it seemed a simple task: he bought a roll of cotton wool and cut it into pieces, the same size as the pads sold in the shops, and then wrapped a thin layer of cotton around it. He presented this homemade prototype pad to his wife and asked her to test it. The feedback she gave him was devastating: his pad was useless and she would rather continue using old rags.

Where did he go wrong? What was the difference between his sanitary pads and those available at the shop? Muruga started experimenting with different materials, but was faced with another problem: he always had to wait a month before his wife could test each new prototype.

Muruganantham says that he was shocked to learn that women in rural areas don’t just use old rags, but other unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash.

Women who do use cloths are often too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, which means they don’t get disinfected. Approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene – it can also affect maternal mortality.

Muruga needed volunteers and had an idea where he might find them. He asked medical students at a university close to his village. Some of them actually tested his pads but they were too shy to give him detailed feedback.

Left with no alternative, he decided to test the sanitary pads himself. He built a uterus using a rubber bladder, filled it with animal blood and fixed it to his hip. A tube led from the artificial uterus to the sanitary pad in his underpants. By pressing the bladder he simulated the menstrual flow.

Unfortunately he began to smell foul and his clothes were often stained with blood. His neighbours soon noticed this. It was clear to them that Muruga was either ill or perverted. After a while his wife couldn’t stand the constant gossip. She left him and went to live with her mother.

But Muruga didn’t give up. He knew why he was going through all this. During his research he had learned that only ten to twenty percent of all girls and women in India have access to proper menstrual hygiene products. This was no longer just about helping his wife. Muruga was on mission: to produce low-cost sanitary pads for all the girls and women in his country.

It was two years before he finally found the right material and another four years before he developed a way to process it. The result was an easy-to-use machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads. Imported machines cost over US$500,000. Muruga’s machine, by contrast, is priced at US$950.

Now women’s groups or schools can buy his machine, produce their own sanitary pads and sell the surplus. In this way, Muruga’s machine has created jobs for women in rural India. He has started a revolution in his own country, selling 1,300 machines to 27 states, and has recently begun exporting them to developing countries all over the world.

Today he is one of India’s most well-known social entrepreneurs and TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.

Several corporations have offered to buy his machine, but he has refused, instead preferring to sell to women’s self help groups.

Some Facts:
* 300 million: The number of women in India without access to safe menstrual hygiene products.

* 1 in 5: The number of girls in India who drop out of school due to menstruation.

Source: Al Jazeera

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Acid attack victim weds. “It was a day I thought I’d never have”

Sonali Mukherjee-Tewary’s world came crashing on April 22, 2003 after three men poured acid on her face. The horrific attack left her disfigured and blind. Then one day, a stranger contacted her and offered to pay for her surgery. What began as a phone call turned into a love story. Here is Sonali’s story of pain, courage, healing, and finding love…

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“Moving my fingers across my face, I tried to fix a bindi as best as I could between my non-existent eyebrows. Then I gently brushed my cheek and felt the curve of my lips. I was trying to imagine what I must look like, to imagine the face my soon-to-be-husband would gaze into as he said his vows.
In just a few hours I would be getting married. I’ll be honest, it was a day I thought I’d never have. I believed I’d be alone forever and that no one would ever be able to love me after I’d been blinded and my face was destroyed in an acid attack.
 
But Chitranjan Tewary got in touch after seeing me on a television show two years ago discussing the 2003 attack and asked my brother Debashish if he could talk to me.
 
‘You are a very strong and brave woman,’ he told me. We spoke every day for a year after that and eventually he said, ‘To me, you are the most beautiful woman in the world. Will you marry me?’
So on April 15 this year, 12 years after the horrifying incident, I became his wife during an intimate court marriage followed by a party with 300 of our family and friends.
 
He has helped me to realise I can be happy following that nightmare attack. Even now I still have flashbacks. As I told Friday in August, 2013, I was just 17 when three men splashed a jug of acid on my face in revenge for spurning their advances. It was terrifying that such a thing could happen – just because they said I was arrogant and turned down their lewd advances.
 
I was a good student and was hoping to earn a degree in psychology and become a psychologist when I first noticed them. For several weeks the two local men, Tapas Mitra, 22, who was married, his friend Sanjay Paswan, 20, and a juvenile used to hang around near my college and pass rude and lewd remarks at me. One day, they made a very offensive comment and when I threatened to tell the police, they laughed at me. I complained to my father about it and he marched over to them the next day and demanded that they stay away from me. I guess the men didn’t like anyone standing up to them so they decided to ruin my life forever.
 
On April 22, 2003, my parents and my sister Sneha, who was 10 at the time, and I were sleeping on the terrace of our one-storey house in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, because it was too hot and humid indoors, when they broke into my house and splashed a cocktail of acids on my face.
 
I can still remember how I was suddenly awake, wondering why someone had poured scalding-hot water on my face. Then within seconds, I realised it wasn’t water as I could feel the flesh from my face just melt and drop away. ‘I’m on fire!’ I remember yelling. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear my sister and mother crying for help. Then I felt myself being lifted. I was in my father Chandidas Mukherjee’s arms and was being rushed to hospital. ‘Mother help me, I’m dying!’ I screamed before I fell unconscious.
 
I woke up eight days later and eventually learnt I had suffered 80 per cent burns, lost my eyesight, hearing in my left ear and had severe burns on my chest and hands. Sneha, who was sleeping by my side, suffered burns but luckily they weren’t as serious as mine.
 
The three who attacked me were arrested and charged. The adults were convicted and jailed for nine years but were released on bail after just three years in jail. The juvenile was released immediately without charge.
 
Over the next 12 years, I had 28 reconstructive surgeries and was in agony for months after. Doctors took skin from my thighs to graft on to my nose and cheeks so I would have a semblance of a face.
My father, a security guard in a local company, had to sell all the land he owned and my mother’s jewellery to fund my treatment and pay for the lawyer fighting my case. To date we must have spent over Rs2 million (Dh115,240). Despite all the surgeries, I still can’t see and will never regain my hearing. Before, I was a confident, outgoing young woman with a world of possibilities before me but after that horrifying night I couldn’t imagine ever feeling comfortable among strangers again, let alone meeting someone special. I was scared. I became a hermit, hiding indoors covered with a shawl. I became increasingly depressed and fed up of living a half life.
 
In fact in 2012, I petitioned the government to approve euthanasia for me. 
I felt I had suffered enough. But since there is no law on euthanasia in India, my request was turned down. I pleaded with the government to help me have free access to reconstructive surgery, to pass more stringent laws on acid attackers or to allow me to kill myself. I didn’t want to live with half a life or half a face.
We were struggling financially and weren’t getting any help. Then, in 2012, I was invited to participate in the hugely popular TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati – the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, hosted by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. After my appearance 
on the show, help poured in and around Rs1.25 million was raised in just three days. A charity, Beti (meaning daughter), also pitched in to help and raised around Rs1 million for my treatment. In February last year, I landed a clerical job in the welfare department of the Jharkhand Government at Bokaro city.
 
Slowly I began to gather courage and confidence and I appeared on numerous television shows, sharing my story to make people aware of these terrible attacks.
 
Ten years after the incident, in 2013, I spoke on a crime programme on an Indian TV channel and a week later, Debashish got a call from Chitranjan, who’d watched it. A 29-year-old electrical engineer, he asked my brother if he could speak to me because he said he liked me and wanted to get to know me better.
 
I agreed and told Debashish to tell him to call me on a Sunday morning. I didn’t think about it until the phone rang at around 10am.
‘Hello, I’m Chitranjan,’ he said. ‘I saw you on TV the other day and… I don’t know… 
I felt an instant connection with you. I think you are a very strong woman and I’d really like to get to know you.’
I felt instantly at ease. He sounded genuine. I didn’t speak much. Although he sounded nice, I was still struggling with talking to strangers. We spoke for barely five minutes, with Chitranjan telling me he was working at a steel company in Odisha.
 
Before ending the call, he said: ‘I hope to speak to you soon.’
 
I didn’t expect to hear from him again but hoped I would. And the next day when the telephone rang in the morning, hope thudded through me. Was that him? It was, and soon we were talking daily.
‘I can’t imagine the pain you’ve been through,’ he said one day. ‘If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to help you. I’d like to help pay for your surgery.’
 
I was a bit taken aback. It was the first time an individual had offered to help me and I was truly moved. A week later, I received a cheque. He’d sent me half his monthly salary. I welled up holding the letter. It was such a touching gesture and he’d done it without even meeting me.
Over the next few months, we became increasingly close. I looked forward to his calls every evening and we’d talk for hours.
 
Then one day, just before we were about to hang up, he paused. ‘Can we meet tomorrow?’ he asked.
I hesitated. Although I’d been speaking to him for about four months, I was apprehensive of meeting him. All kinds of thoughts began racing through my mind: would he like me, would he be shocked to see my face?
‘So, is your silence a yes?’ he asked.
‘No,’ I stammered. ‘I don’t think I’m ready to meet you.’ I was just too nervous.
Chitranjan didn’t insist but the next dayhe posed the same question. This time I became defensive. ‘Why do you want to meet me?’ I demanded.

Nothing could have prepared me for what he said next. ‘I’d like to marry you, Sonali.’ That was in January this year.
I was shocked. We hadn’t even met, we hadn’t ever said that we loved each other and here he was, saying he wanted to marry me.
‘I would like to meet your parents and, following tradition, ask your father for your hand in marriage,’ he said.
 
I was just dumbstruck. For a moment I wondered if it was all a cruel joke.
‘Why would you want to marry a woman like me?’ I asked pointedly. ‘I’m blind, my face is ruined…. Why?’
‘It’s simple, Sonali,’ he said calmly. ‘If my wife was involved in an accident and lost her sight, would I leave her? No. If she developed a debilitating disease, would I abandon her? No. To me, this is a similar situation.’
 
I was speechless. ‘Give me some time please,’ I said and hung up.
A flood of emotions raced through me. 
Is this real, I kept asking myself. Does he really love me? Is this all a big joke?
The next morning I decided to tell my parents about our conversation.
‘Maybe you should meet him,’ my father said. It sounded so simple. So I invited him for lunch one Sunday.
The night before I couldn’t sleep – I kept imagining how he would look. And then I realised it did not really matter – I’d never be able to see him.
 
In the morning, for the first time since my attack, I made an effort to look my best. My mum chose a bright blue salwar kameez for me to wear – I couldn’t see the colour but my mother described how it looked – and I neatly combed my hair.
 
Chitranjan arrived at about 11am with a box of chocolates and a card he read to me that said, ‘best wishes’. I was nervous but within minutes he put me at ease and we were talking like we used to on phone.
 
Debashish sat with us throughout the meeting. During the course of the afternoon, he asked Chitranjan if he was serious. ‘I’m very serious about marriage,’ he replied. ‘I believe we have a deep connection. I would be very happy to marry your sister.’
 
I couldn’t stop smiling. Although I couldn’t see him, I knew he was the man for me. After a delicious and relaxed lunch, Chitranjan left promising to return soon.
 
He called me that evening and asked me how I felt. ‘I’m feeling on top of the world,’ I said. ‘I wish I could live the rest of my life with you.’
 
Soon afterwards, Chitranjan and I went on holiday with my parents to Puri, a seaside destination in Odisha, 500km from our home. One evening we walked along the beach hand in hand. He described the sunset to me. For the first time, our relationship felt real to me.
 
A month after that, we married on April 15 this year and for the first time since the attack, I put make-up on my face. Determined to look like a bride, I sat nervously as the beautician patted blush on my cheeks and applied lipstick.
 
Of course, I was happy but I was sad I couldn’t see my husband. ‘I wish I could see you,’ I told him.
‘Believe me, you are the most beautiful bride in the world,’ he said.

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Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to live together yet. We work in different states and to have the future we want we can’t just quit our jobs. But Chitranjan is looking for a position in my city so we can be together.
 
I thought my attackers had taken away any chance I had to be happy, but now I know what it is to love and be loved.
I’m lucky. I met an amazing man who looked past my scars and was able to see who I am on the inside.

culled from Gulf News

I Said To The Wanting-Creature Inside Me

I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or nesting?

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There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman.
There is no tow rope either, and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!

And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the
soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of
imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are.

by Kabir

Kabir was a mystic poet and saint of India who lived between 1440 – 1518. Kabir ‘s  writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement. The name Kabir comes from Arabic al-Kabīr which means ‘The Great’ – the 37th name of God in Islam.

Be Contented With Your Life by Anon

Wonder if any of you ever had the feeling that life is bad, real bad… and you wish you were in another situation? Do you find that life seems to make things difficult for you, work sucks, life sucks, everything seems to go wrong?

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It was not until yesterday that I totally changed my views about life; after a conversation with one of my friends.

He told me despite taking 2 jobs, and bringing back barely above $1000 per month, he is happy as he is. I wonder how he can be as happy as he is now, considering that he has to skimp his life with the low pay to support a pair of old-age parents, in-laws, wife, 2 daughters and the many bills of a household.

He explained that it was through one incident that he saw in India.

That happened a few years ago when he was really feeling low and was touring India after a major setback. He said that right in front of his very eyes, he saw an Indian mother chopped off her child’s right hand with a chopper. The helplessness in the mother’s eyes, the scream of the pain from the innocent 4 years old child haunted him until today. You may ask why did the mother do so, has the child been naughty, was the child’s hand infected??

No, it was done for two simple words — to beg. The desperate mother deliberately caused the child to be handicapped so that the child can go out to the streets to beg. I cannot accept how this could happen, but it really did, just in another part of the world which I don’t see.

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Taken aback by the scene, he dropped a small piece of bread he was eating half-way. And almost instantly, flock of 5 or 6 children swamp towards this small piece of bread which was then covered with sand, robbing of bits from one another. The natural reaction of hunger. Saddened by this happenings, he instructed his guide to drive him to the nearest bakery. He arrived at two bakeries and bought every single loaf of bread he found in the bakeries.

The owner is dumb-folded, but willing, sold everything. He spent less than $100 to obtain about 400 loaf of bread (this is less than $0.25/per loaf) and spend another $100 to get daily necessities. Off he went in the truck full of bread into the streets. As he distributed the bread and necessities to the children (mostly handicapped) and a few adults, he received cheers and bows from these unfortunate. For the first time in life he wonder how people can give up their dignity for a loaf of bread which cost less than $0.25. He began to ask himself how fortunate he is as a Singaporean. How fortunate he to be able to have a complete body, have a job, have a family, have the chance to complain what food is nice what isn’t, have the chance to be clothed, have the many things that these people in front of him are deprived of…

Now I begin to think and feel it, too. Was my life really that bad?

Perhaps….no… it should not be bad at all….

What about you? Maybe the next time you think you are, think about the child who lost one hand to beg on the streets.

Anon

Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth

An Indian boy who lost his mother in 1986 found her 25 years later in 2011 from his new home in Tasmania – using satellite images.

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Saroo was only five years old when he got lost. He was travelling with his older brother, working as a sweeper on India’s trains. “It was late at night. We got off the train, and I was so tired that I just took a seat at a train station, and I ended up falling asleep.”

That fateful nap would determine the rest of his life. “I thought my brother would come back and wake me up but when I awoke he was nowhere to be seen. I saw a train in front of me and thought he must be on that train. So I decided to get on it and hoped that I would meet my brother.”

Saroo did not meet his brother on the train. Instead, he fell asleep and had a shock when he woke up 14 hours later. Though he did not realise it at first, he had arrived in Calcutta, India’s third biggest city and notorious for its slums.

“I was absolutely scared. I didn’t know where I was. I just started to look for people and ask them questions.”

Soon he was sleeping rough. “It was a very scary place to be. I don’t think any mother or father would like to have their five year old wandering alone in the slums and trains stations of Calcutta.”

The little boy learned to fend for himself. He became a beggar, one of the many children begging on the streets of the city. “I had to be quite careful. You could not trust anyone.” Once he was approached by a man who promised him food and shelter and a way back home. But Saroo was suspicious. “Ultimately I think he was going to do something not nice to me, so I ran away.”

But in the end, he did get off the streets. He was taken in by an orphanage, which put him up for adoption. He was adopted by the Brierleys, a couple from Tasmania. “I accepted that I was lost and that I could not find my way back home, so I thought it was great that I was going to Australia.”

Saroo settled down well in his new home. But as he got older the desire to find his birth family became increasingly strong. The problem was that as an illiterate five-year-old he had not known the name of the town he had come from. All he had to go on were his vivid memories. So he began using Google Earth to search for where he might have been born.

“It was just like being Superman. You are able to go over and take a photo mentally and ask, ‘Does this match?’ And when you say, ‘No’, you keep on going and going and going.”

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Google Earth image that helped Saroo find his way home

Eventually Saroo hit on a more effective strategy. “I multiplied the time I was on the train, about 14 hours, with the speed of Indian trains and I came up with a rough distance, about 1,200km.”

He drew a circle on a map with its centre in Calcutta, with its radius about the distance he thought he had travelled. Incredibly, he soon discovered what he was looking for: Khandwa. “When I found it, I zoomed down and bang, it just came up. I navigated it all the way from the waterfall where I used to play.”

Soon he made his way to Khandwa, the town he had discovered online. He found his way around the town with his childhood memories. Eventually he found his own home in the neighbourhood of Ganesh Talai. But it was not what he had hoped for. “When I got to the door I saw a lock on it. It look old and battered, as if no-one had lived there for quite a long time.”

Saroo had a photograph of himself as a child and he still remembered the names of his family. A neighbour said that his family had moved.
“Another person came and then a third person turned up, and that is when I struck gold. He said, ‘Just wait here for a second and I shall be back.’ And when he did come back after a couple of minutes he said, ‘Now I will be taking you to your mother.'”

“I just felt numb and thought, ‘Am I hearing what I think I am hearing?'”

Saroo was taken to meet his mother who was nearby. At first he did not recognise her.

“The last time I saw her she was 34 years old and a pretty lady, I had forgotten that age would get the better of her. But the facial structure was still there and I recognised her and I said, ‘Yes, you are my mother.’
“She grabbed my hand and took me to her house. She could not say anything to me. I think she was as numb as I was. She had a bit of trouble grasping that her son, after 25 years, had just reappeared like a ghost.”

Although she had long feared he was dead, a fortune teller had told Saroo’s mother that one day she would see her son again. “I think the fortune teller gave her a bit of energy to live on and to wait for that day to come.”

And what of the brother with whom Saroo had originally gone travelling? Unfortunately, the news was not good. “A month after I had disappeared my brother was found in two pieces on a railway track.” His mother had never known whether foul play was involved or whether the boy had simply slipped and fallen under a train.

“We were extremely close and when I walked out of India the tearing thing for me was knowing that my older brother had passed away.”

For years Saroo Brierley went to sleep wishing he could see his mother again and his birth family. Now that he has, he feels incredibly grateful. He has kept in touch with his newly found family.

“It has taken the weight off my shoulders. I sleep a lot better now.”

Saroo Brierley spoke to Outlook on the BBC World Service
By Robin Banerji
BBC World Service
14 April 2012

Jumbo Love

An Indian man was trampled to death trying to break up a love affair between a tame elephant and her wild 3,600 kilogram suitor from the jungles of south Bihar.

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The irresistible force of love between elephants is something the villagers of Gumla, in northern India, wish they had avoided. It is rare for wild elephants to develop crushes on domesticated pachyderms.
But when a bull elephant happened to spy an attractive she-elephant named Madhubala, it was, well, love at first sight.

Even though Madhubala was chained to a tree, the bull elephant refused to leave her. At first the villagers tried to lure away the heavyweight stranger with a banana bribe. It was not food the elephant had on his mind.

Angry and scared, villagers and police began tossing firecrackers and flaming sticks at the wild male. As the furious elephant charged back to the jungle, he crushed a forest ranger, killing him.

The bull elephant’s retreat was only tactical. The lovesick male sneaked back later that night and freed Madhubala by smashing her chains. The two lovers eloped.

Madhubala’s keeper, Mahedi Hussain, tracked her down in the jungle after a week and brought her back to the village. The she-elephant, alas, remained lovelorn. She even turned up her trunk at a bunch of bananas, her favorite food. Finally, her plaintive trumpet calls were answered.

The avenging lover swept down on the village last Friday like an army tank, flattening huts and scattering people into the forest. As the United News of India reported: The elephant ”returned to Gumla in a rage, demolishing walls and anything that stood between him and Madhubala. The act, many said, would have done credit to any film hero who had been denied his love.”

With Madhubala loose again, the reunited elephant pair slipped off into the dense trees. This time, the elephant-keeper is in no hurry to bring her — and her trouble-making boyfriend – back again.

Evelyn ” Granny” Brand : Target Drived

During one of my private study, I came across Granny Brand and I decided to read further, I was amazed! Honestly, I don’t think I have that kind of ‘stay power’ she had. In respective of your religion, I hope you learnt and take a thing or two from this amazing woman who went to the grave empty!

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Evelyn was born in England in 1879. Her father was a well-to-do merchant; as a young woman Evie cut a fine figure in plumed hats and frilly dresses. Her family was involved in missions, street work, and charities. Her father protected his daughters, even trying to dissuade them from marriages that would take them away from him, but one by one they started families.

Evie learned to paint. Her idol was John Joseph Turner, who seemed able to capture light on canvas. To the end of her days, she sketched and painted with gusto. But when she entered her 20s, she found that art did not feed her soul.

Evie was 30 when she spent a few weeks in Australia, helping a sister. Sailing home, she sensed a divine calling to be a missionary. Yet how was she to break the news to father? The arrival of a young missionary from India helped. Evie found Jesse Brand too intense for her taste. But at a missionary meeting, he seemed to look directly at her as he described the filth and squalor on the mission field. She heard an unspoken question in his words: could she, a fashionable girl, handle such things? Resolve rose within her. Yes, with God’s help she could! And she was riled up enough to tell her father so.

He took her announcement hard. A missionary? Aren’t there enough lost souls in London? Evie insisted that she had to obey God’s call. Finally, her father yielded. She could go, but she must allow him to provide her entire support. At her farewell party, she wore her usual finery. “She looks more like an actress than a missionary,” said someone.

Assigned to Madras in the plains of India, Evie discovered that Jesse Brand had been transferred there too. She fell in love with him and with his vision for the people of the Mountains of Death. Then she found out that Jesse was engaged. Hot and shaking, she fled to her bathroom and poured cold water over herself. She had made a fool of herself!

Her heart grew dry. Looking at India’s flowers, blooming brilliantly in the dry season, she prayed, “Let me be like that, Lord, flowering best when life seems most dry and dead.”

Language study took her to the hills. Jesse contacted her. His engagement was off. Would Evie marry him? They would work the mountains together.

Evie’s honeymoon was a “perfect” introduction to life in the hills. Dressed in wedding white, she joined Jesse in the canvas dholi (carrier). Her bearers had gone off to hunt a wild pig. New men were found, but thunder rumbled in the sky. Heat wilted her dress. She tried not to give way to terror as the men lurched along steep precipices. Thorns caught her clothes. Rain drenched the carrier. When she dismounted to walk, she sank deep into mud holes. They lost their way in the dark.

Mountains Of Death:
That was the beginning of their work in the mountains. It was not glamorous. At the start, a dying man gave his heart to Christ. It was seven years before they saw another convert on the Kolli range. Because Hindu priests feared to lose their influence and revenue, they opposed the Gospel. People wanted to follow Jesus because God enabled Jesse to heal many of their diseases, but the priests frightened the people away from the new faith.

Jesse taught them better farming methods, treated their sick, built houses, and fought their tax battles. He showed Evie the five ranges of hills he hoped to win for Christ: their own Kolli, and beyond it Pachais, Kalrayan, Peria Malai, and Chitteris.

The two went from village to village preaching the Gospel and tending the sick. Yet the people always pulled back from Christianity for fear of their Hindu priests. A breakthrough came when a priest caught fever. Jesse hurried to his aid. As he died, the priest entrusted his children to the Brands. The Jesus God must be the true one, he said, because the Brands alone had helped him in his hour of death.

The people marveled at a God who made Jesse care for an enemy’s orphaned children. Evie eventually became mother to many abandoned Indian children. Through her motherly love, a small Christian community was born.

Still, the progress of the Gospel remained painfully slow. Painful also was the need for Jesse and Evie to leave their two children, Paul and Connie, in England for schooling. Evie said that something “just died in me” the day she had to say good-bye to them. It was the hardest test of loyalty God asked of her.

Then came the day when Jesse died of Blackwater Fever and Evie was widowed. In England, Paul and Connie learned that their father was dead. Although Evie felt hollow, she prayed that the Lord would allow Jesse’s death to win more souls than his life had. Hindu and Christian alike mourned the man who had poured out love to them, and they vied with each other for the usually contemptible job of digging a grave and lowering a dead body into it.

Evie struggled on in the work alone until a replacement was found. Jesse had promised to show her a shortcut to one village. “Now he’ll not be able to,” she lamented. She was wrong. Riding his horse one day, it remembered the new path and carried her along it.

After a visit with her children in England, Evie was determined to return to the Kolli hills. Mission leaders were uneasy. Would it work? They were right to ask. Evie expected co-workers to do as Jesse would have. When they didn’t, she spoke up and tension resulted. She pleaded to be allowed to start a new work on one of the other ranges. Mission leaders refused. Mountain work did not show good returns.

The decision was hard for the board. Evie had long sacrificed comforts and family to the mission. Year after year, she had lived entirely on a small inheritance and set aside her official salary to buy land for the mission. But ever since her husband Jesse died of fever, pioneering with her in the Mountains of Death, the mission had not been sure what to do with her. The one task she wanted–to open new work in the mountains–was denied her because she was elderly, single…and opinionated.

From the board’s point of view it was senseless to appoint a 68-year-old woman to another five-year term. But years before, Jesse and Evie had vowed to reach five mountain ranges with the Gospel. Four still had to be reached. Evie felt God was calling her to fulfill that vow.

Evie grasped at one last straw. “Please just send me back for one year,” she pleaded. “I promise not to make any more trouble. At the end of one year I will retire.” Reluctantly, the board agreed. Had they known the secret plan that Evie had confided to her daughter, they surely would have refused permission.
Then Came the Shocker
Evie said good-bye to friends and relatives in England and was back in India by January 1947. The mission appointed her to the plains. Evie did not mind much. It was only for a year!

Camping in the Kalrayan range on every holiday, she plotted her next move. Her son designed a little house for her, and she scrounged building materials and organized it into loads light enough for helpers to tote uphill.

Her year with the mission ended. Fellow missionaries gathered to wish her a tearful good-bye and presented her with a parting present: a lovely lamp.

Evie informed them gleefully that she was retiring from the mission–retiring to take up an independent work in the mountains, to fulfill the commission that she and Jesse had undertaken years before. Her colleagues’ protests and warnings fell on deaf ears. As far as Evie was concerned, life begins at 70.

At age 70, she began to fulfill Jesse’s dream. Everyone called her “Granny,” but she felt young. Just as in the old times, she traveled from village to village riding a hill pony, camping, teaching, and dispensing medicine. She rescued abandoned children. The work was harder now and she was thin. Carriers whacked her head on a rock. She never got her balance back after that and walked with bamboo canes. Yet she was full of joy and laughter. “Praise God!” she exclaimed continually.

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Despite broken bones, fevers, and infirmities, she labored on. In fifteen years, she almost eradicated Guinea worm from the Kalrayan range. Through her efforts, the five ranges were evangelized, and a mission work planted on each. She added two more ranges to her plans. Granny insisted this extraordinary accomplishment was God’s doing, not hers.

Wherever she was, she proclaimed Christ. In the hospital with a broken hip, she wheeled herself from room to room (or scooted on a carpet!) and talked to the other patients. She painted landscapes for them. Her bones knit in record time, and back she went to the mountains to fight marijuana growers.

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When her son, Paul, visited her in the mountains, he found her looking younger. Her smile, brighter than ever, made the difference. “This is how to grow old,” he wrote. “Allow everything else to fall away, until those around you see just love.”

Granny tore some ligaments and had to go to the plains for treatment. Before she could return to her beloved mountains, her speech became jumbled and her memory failed. Seven days later, on December 18, 1974, she died. The next day her body was taken back to the hills and laid beside Jesse’s as a multitude wept. The woman who had been declared too old for India had carried on for 24 more years, working almost to her day of death.

Based on a Christian History Institute’s Glimpses Bulletin Insert