Kelly Nicholson and her husband, Jamie, recently returned from a philanthropy mission to a very rural region of Manipur in eastern India. This was her first visit, whereas her husband accompanied the group last year. Kelly described this as a “trip of a lifetime," and one of her first impressions related to housing. Not surprising, since she's our office manager here at Rufty Homes.
“Most buildings and homes were made of thatch, like a mud hut," said Kelly. "Schools were built with cinder block or concrete."
She shared that most structures had roofs yet were open to the elements with no windows or doors. This meant no heat or air, and electricity was intermittent. Each day, residents received electricity for only a few hours since it was controlled by the government.
As you can imagine, there was little to no commercialism as we know it, and few gas stations. Meals were cooked over open fires, said Kelly, and breakfasts were memorable since, on occasion, they consisted of rice, popcorn, and ramen noodles.
She and her husband were among a group of seven missionaries from Raleigh's Calvary Baptist Church. They were joined by three church groups from Texas that had been visiting this region for the past decade. “The opportunity to work with children was such a blessing, and the villagers were so very welcoming and friendly,” said Kelly.
She noted that the Manipuri region has many tribes, most of which have their own tribal language. Her mission work took place in areas that see few foreigners. Each night they enjoyed hosting large-scale gospel musical events in which many townspeople came from all over to see. Thousands attended the first night they arrived.
The groups then split up and made presentations in schools throughout the region. Some in small private schools, while others had 800 students.
“Over a two-week period, my team went to 10 schools,” said Kelly. “Which typically included preschool to 11th graders.”
At each school, the groups would do cultural presentations sharing stories of their families, hometowns and Christianity. At one location this meant singing hymns while the students played musical instruments.
According to Kelly, presentations were shown on tablets or acted out in a play, with the children attentive to every word and thrilled to share their own experiences.
Asked to pinpoint her favorite experience, Kelly noted a special relationship with a woman named Shanglori. Now a schoolteacher, Gloria, as her friends call her, was previously a student studying “commerce” at the university. Commerce is what we in the U.S. refer to as accounting.
If you're familiar with Kelly, you know that she's Rufty Homes' resident accountant in charge of keeping things running smoothly. How fun it must be to travel around the world and connect with your doppelganger.