Koraput

The attacks came in the night—in Daringbarhi, Kandhamal, Talagumandi India—
men armed with guns, machetes, fire. First the pastors were targeted, then any Christians who refused to convert back to Hinduism. All fled for their lives. Hundreds of villagers ran into the forest with nothing but their clothes and children, turning only to see their homes in flames. Then the blur of days without food or water—running at night, hiding from mobs during the day, sleeping in the rain coiled around their children.

The 500 survivors of this attack have been living as refugees for three years in a collection of abandoned buildings in Koraput, India, in the eastern state of Orissa. They have gone from being prosperous farming families to day laborers, from proud to desperate—ill from poor water and food and the stress of living as outliers. Nonetheless, they cling to each other, knowing their power will come first from their faith, and then from the community they have forged as refugees.

Please help rebuild lives and restore Koraput's self-sufficiency by contributing to the Koraput Survivors Project.  Donate below via PayPal, or send your check to Community House with "Koraput" in the memo line to Community House, 120 Parkhurst Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.  Funds will be used to build homes and establish microloans for small businesses.

   
   

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The Koraput refugees are part of the Dalit class, often called Untouchables as indication of their undesirability. Extremists are seeking to retain social control over this impoverished class, keeping them out of schools, and passing laws to bar them from community funds, property ownership, government support, etc. Their only advocate in the area is Pastor Debendra Singh, who leads a small congregation in nearby Jeypore.

Photographer Lynn Johnson, on assignment for National Geographic, met Pastor Singh and witnessed this group of struggling people in Koraput. In hearing their stories and photographing them, Johnson found herself shocked, moved and inspired to speak up for these still traumatized survivors.  In this shift, she befriended Jen Saffron, who produces and writes about community-based media production and advocacy.  Together with Pastor Singh and Community House, Jen and Lynn formed a network to advocate for Koraput's rebuilding as a demonstration of what's possible: peace.   Lynn and Jen will travel to Koraput in March to begin a partnership with the Koraput people and Pastor Singh to identify critical community needs and create structures that will support the sustainable rebuilding of this village.

As part of its social justice mission, Community House is proud to work with the Koraput Survivors Project, helping to channel resources to the community of Koraput, India.  Working with community and faith partners, the goal is to rebuild a community besieged by violence against Christians.  Read more about the Koraput Survivors Project here and help us create this vision of peace and dignity. All donations are secure and tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.