I Thought it Was a Misprint: 50 Desperate Women Went to Market to Sell Their Children

I Thought it Was a Misprint: 50 Desperate Women Went to Market to Sell Their Children January 18, 2018

Have you ever seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire? I don’t generally watch many movies and am not very emotional when I do watch them. But this was one movie I couldn’t get through without crying. I watched it once, but I could never get to the end a second time. It was so emotionally draining.

Part of the story is about this terrible man going around collecting lost children from the streets. He takes these kids to a house far away, promising them food and Coca-Cola and all these different things. Then comes an absolutely heart-breaking scene where you see a cute little boy being taken to the back of the house and being knocked out with chloroform. The man pours boiling oil into the eyes of this little one and blinds him. Later in the movie, you see the same boy on the street begging.

Cast of Slumdog Millionaire - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

When I saw this, I couldn’t think of it as just a story made up for a movie. The reason being that I have lived in places where things like that really happen. When I saw that little boy, I thought of the hundreds and hundreds of beggar children I have encountered personally, and suddenly I felt such compassion for them. It hit me so hard.

God uses different things in our lives to speak to us. And for me, He used that movie to get a hold of my heart. He cares for those who are suffering. I wonder how many times He is speaking to us about the desperate needs in this world but we miss hearing what He is saying to us. Today, we don’t have to wait to travel to different countries or even go outside our home to see poverty, starvation, slavery, terrorism and war. Technology has exposed us to countless heartbreaking stories and circumstances. After a while, it is easy to try to put a shield up to protect our heart, and everything then becomes just information to process intellectually.

open our hearts to the suffering people - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaCan we try to lower that shield and open our hearts to the suffering people that we see? When I’m traveling in some of these nations and see the beggars, the suffering children or the needy, I realize, “But for the grace of God, that’s me. But for the grace of God, my children and my grandchildren would be on the street, vulnerable and alone. But for the grace of God, these are my children trying to make a living and survive.”

Take a moment to imagine how we would feel if it was our children who were suffering. Imagine hearing them crying out at night because of hunger. Imagine the despair of having nothing to offer them but a glass of dirty sewage water.

It’s not that we should feel guilty for what we have. But can we use what we have to help others?

Just a few years ago, my assistant sent me a link to a story that appeared in a major Asian newspaper. The story shocked me to tears. I recounted the experience in my book, No Longer a Slumdog:

On January 7, 2011, more than 50 desperate women from a rural village got together to sell their children at the market. First, I thought it was a misprint. People go to market to sell vegetables and material things, not to sell their children! As I read on, however, I learned that their entire village is impoverished. None of these women were able to care for their children anymore. The article continued:

Among the women was Malati Hembram who had lined up with her five-year-old daughter. “I will sell her off at whatever price I get. The money is not important; I just want my daughter to be taken in by a family which will give her food, shelter and education. We are not being able to sustain ourselves as well as our children and the elders in the family,” Malati said.

I don’t know if any of these women actually sold their children. If someone offered these mothers money, I think they would have done so. Sadly, I read on that it is not an uncommon sight to see women going door-to-door trying to find a buyer for their son or daughter.

I have seen many stories of deprivation, misery and hopelessness, but this one caught me completely unprepared. Immediately, I called the field leader nearest to this village. I told him, “Please, set up a center in this village right away.”

Within one week, I got a call back from this leader saying that they had established a Bridge of Hope center with 150 of these desperately hungry, needy children. They distributed blankets and met some basic needs of the poor people in the village. And now these children would be cared for, get a hot meal each day and receive an education. As often happens, a door was opened to share God’s love and bring the assurance that He will take care of them. Thank God that we were able to learn about the situation in this village before it was too late.

A portrait of Malati Hembram - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
A portrait of Malati Hembram, one of the women who tried to sell her daughter. She now works as a cook at the Bridge of Hope center, helping feed hundreds of kids each day.

We may not always be able to make a drastic, immediate difference, but if we open our ears and our hearts to the people we encounter—whether in person or in a newspaper article—we can do something to help.

Next time you’re watching the news, talking about world events or reading statistics about poverty or suffering, may I ask you to please pray? Even if you feel like you’ve seen and heard it all before, this time can be new and fresh. Ask the Lord, “What do You want me to do? How can I pray? What is Your call for my life? How do You want me to make a difference?”

And as we seek the Lord’s face at these times, He will speak to us. He wants us to bear fruit and will give us the grace we need if we only look to Him.

Watch Malati’s story in Gospel for Asia’s documentary, Veil of Tears

To learn more about GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program, click here.

Story above excerpted from K.P. Yohannan, No Longer a Slumdog (Wills Point, TX: gfa books, 2017).

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For more blogs on Patheos from Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan, go here.

Go here to know more about Dr. KP Yohannan: KPYohannan.org | GoodReads | Radio

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  • Gladys Kairos

    Such a tragic state of families these days. And all I can do is pray that this will stop. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ashley

    Just posted this on my social media account. What a great reminder. My prayer and hope is that as His followers, we wouldn’t become numb to the reality that half the world has.
    Have mercy Lord!

  • Bungarra

    The going rate for small Children a few years ago a few hundred meters up the Street from Mother Teresa’s ‘Mother House” in Calcutta was about $30.00 USD. It is a bit disconcerting tripping over the babies of the ‘street people’ asleep on the foot path when returning to your Hotel after eating your evening meal. One can break a leg if not careful to say nothing about the safety of the child.. One also sees very expensive cars in the traffic so there is money in the system. As an Australian with a farm background, Australia looks after its sheep better than the poor are.

    While this seems to be hopeless, a work with Widows and their children at the back of the docks in Calcutta, has assisted them to develop. Food supplements have been provided. Yes we buy from the local shop. That helps to develop a favorable attitudes, no one is being displaced by funds from out side being spent on produce which competes with the local suppliers. ( This work started some time ago when > 400 men were poisoned by a bad batch of alcohol. It was contaminated with excess methanol.)

    Skills training for some where possible. Eg producing kits for the adolescent girls so that they continue to go to school during their periods.

    Aim to empower the powerless. This includes the concept of ‘leading from behind’. The Ladies now say, “Jesus is the only God with Power” in a village which is Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist and others . Does this not seem to be consistent with the NT?

    The ownership of the project is left with the members. Come change, this allows the groups to adapt and persist. India has a history of only about 5,000 years of imperialism of control being imposed by the empowered for the benefit of the empowered. Time to encourage self sufficiency. Can change occur with out a ‘Bloody Revolution’? (As a small Child I saw the Chinese Revolution, and have followed its impact on the Church’s there. From 5-8 million in 1950 to now ?? > 200 million. All through the house church movement.)

    The ladies this Christmas planned and saved enough to hold small party in the village. Only about 2,000 turned up. We talk about ‘Peace on Earth’.

  • Birkhang Basumatary

    Thank God for what GFA is doing through Bridge of Hope for many underprivileged children. Unfortunately, many have misconception about GFA with jealousy mind. They have concern about only money, but do not have concern for poor children. They allow children to die for the sake of transparency. It is like someone allowing the victim of a car accident to die in a cold blood while trying to decide who is right and who is wrong, during which they could have taken the victim to hospital to save the life. Actually, they do not want to help the underprivileged children, neither they want GFA to do. They have a kind of mindset- I will not eat, neither will allow any one to eat. It is time for them to change their mind and come forward to help the needy children, instead of saying something negative about those who take initiative to help them. It is time for them to thank God for what He has been doing through GFA and appreciate those who are involving. Let everyone write good about those organizations, that work hard to raise funds to help the needy children of the world, so that people may be motivated through it to give more to help them. Let not your approach be the cause of deprivation of basic need of children, rather let it be a means of blessing for millions of children who are waiting for your help.