I had the chance to sit down with Kirk Nowery after a recent trip he and his wife Violeta made to India. The role the two of them are playing at our Hope Center in India is essential to the growth and success of the project. It has been beautiful to see the way their hearts have connected with the team and the girls at the Hope Center.
One of the stories I was interested in hearing was that of Caroline Das, the head matron of the hostel who has been there for 30 years. Kirk and Violeta have gotten to know her well and her dedication and love for the girls has touched them deeply.
Anthony: Kirk, welcome back home after another challenging and fruitful trip to India. I’m anxious to hear all the details and get updates on the new girls as well as the progress that is being made at the school, but I was wondering if we could take some time for you to share a little about Caroline?
Kirk: Thank you Anthony. My wife and I were looking at our passports just the other night and found the stamp for the trip to India when we first met Caroline. It showed March 24th, 2015. It took us a few days after that before we made it to the location of what is now our Hope Center in India. I will never forget the feeling we had when we walked through the gate for the first time and saw the portion of the compound which is now Mason’s Place.
There was a deep deep sense for me of the presence of the Lord. It was an unusual experience for me—undeniable, no other way to explain it other than “a God moment.” I was looking out over the compound and just felt the presence of the Lord. The compound itself looked very run down, the grass was overgrown, the buildings were in disrepair, but despite these things there was this strong sense of the presence of the Lord.
Then I noticed a group of four or five people coming towards us to greet us. This was the first time I met Caroline Das. I would guess that she’s in her mid 50s. She greeted me with a warm and engaging smile. Caroline was introduced to me has the matron of the hostel. We would refer to her as the director.
I remember being struck by her humility. She looked at me and I saw in her eyes a longing for help. This was a woman who was now serving in her 30th year at the hostel and it was evident that there had been many difficult years. Just recently I learned that for many of those previous years prior to Hope Partners’ involvement, the hostel was only being given $1500 per year to operate.
With a budget like that it’s no surprise that they were not able to care for the girls sufficiently, much less maintain the compound. Despite the awful conditions at the hostel, the girls nevertheless had nowhere else they could go.
Through the difficult circumstances Caroline never wavered in her commitment to do all she could to love and care for the girls. I have since learned that for the previous 17 years Caroline had been praying and asking God to send help. As she cried out to God she continued to do all she could to care for the girls. Most afternoons she would go door to door asking local residents to give what they could; food, clothes, shoes, blankets, money or anything else just so she could care for the girls at the hostel.
As I’ve heard the stories, I’ve realized these were very difficult years, yet Caroline continued to do all she could and cried out to the Lord to send help. She didn’t just sit at the compound asking why. She didn’t complain and say it was just too hot. I’m sure she felt bad at the state of things and all that they were not able to provide for the girls, but she never gave up doing all she could. I refer to it as her 17-year prayer.
Fast forward two years from that first meeting and things have changed drastically for Caroline…and for all the girls that call Mason’s Place home. We now have a full-time staff of 24. The faculty at the school is growing and improving. The menu at the hostel is more than Carolyn ever would’ve imagined. There remains daily challenges and struggles but the feeling on the compound has drastically changed and there is a joy and expectancy that God is at work and doing great things.
I remember one day last year when I was sitting in the shade after a full day of work. Caroline had taken the seat next to me and we were both looking out and watching the girls play. The next thing I heard was Caroline calling me “Grandpa”. Months before this the girls at Mason’s Place had affectionately begun to call Violeta “Grandma” and me “Grandpa”. It was a title we both loved and cherished but I had never heard it from Caroline. I was a bit surprised and asked “since when do you call me Grandpa?” I then looked at her and saw tears coming from her eyes and she told me, “Grandpa, for 17 years I had prayed that God would send help. He has finally answered my prayer in sending you.”
My eyes welled up and my heart was full with the realization that in some small way, God was using us to help answer the prayer of one of His dear servants. Caroline Das is a hero to me. Each day she faithfully follows the Lord and the things that he is calling her to. It is clear that her dependency is not on her abilities or what others might do. Her dependency is on her Lord, whom she loves and serves.