(Scroll down for the dal recipe.)
I tossed some cumin seeds into the hot oil and waited until they began to pop before adding a pile of onions, garlic, and ginger. A spoonful of turmeric turned the fragrant mixture a deep golden color as the spicy aroma wafted through the house. Soon small orange lentils would soften into a lovely yellow as the dal simmered in my biggest pot. (Recipe below)
"I don't understand why they're called Lucky!" came the bewildered comment from my eight year old son. We were preparing to screen The Lucky Girls Movie during our church's fellowship time the next day. Why, he wondered, would these girls, these motherless and forsaken orphans, be considered lucky?
My mind wandered back ten years ago, to the months I spent in India, to little street girls, running about, barefoot, unkempt, begging for their next meal. Sadly, many of them are "owned" by well organized rings who take their "earnings" in exchange for meager fare and a little shelter. I remember a lovely Indian woman with whom I stood one hot afternoon in Dehli. She held in her arms a beautiful baby girl, obviously loved. As we stood talking, a turbaned man interrupted us. They exchanged a few words; in short, he offered to buy her baby. She refused. What would have become of that baby? What becomes of so many unwanted girls in India?
The plight of the girl child in India can be devastating. Girls will grow up, and, in order to marry, will need a dowry, something many impoverished families simply cannot afford. And so the girl becomes a burden to her family. In many circumstances, she is aborted, and never even given a chance at life. Many more young girls grow up in brothels, or in other forms of slavery, with no hope of an education, of freedom, of marriage, or of any independence.
My son, in his warm and safe home, surrounded by loving family, cannot fathom these things. But these girls, these Lucky ones, know what their fate could be. Having lost mothers, fathers, left alone or perhaps having become a burden to a relative, they've found a place where they're loved and cared for. They have found a home. In Sister Nectaria they have one who loves them like a mother. They're given the gift of an education, which will open up many opportunities for them. They are given safety and security, a hope and a future.
Sunday morning came. I dressed in my shalwar kameez, long pushed to the back of my closet. I wanted to share with my church family a little of my love for India, for her people, and specifically for her girls. Together with some friends we provided a simple meal of rice, dal, cabbage, and fruit. Our usually loud fellowship room became quiet as we listened to the stories of these young women. Afterwards many people thanked us for sharing The Lucky Girls with them, for allowing them to see this place, to hear these voices from the other side of the world.
I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to introduce others to this wonderful ministry in India. There are so many needs in this world, but this is certainly a worthy place to direct out attention, our prayers, and if we're able, our resources. There are many ways that you can be involved. Will you pray for the Lucky Girls, and consider how you can be a part of this project too?
You can watch the full, 15 minute film, here.
Oil or Butter
1 t Cumin Seeds
2 T Chopped Garlic
2 T Chopped Ginger
1 Chopped Onion
1/2 t Cayenne Peper
1 Tomato, diced, or 1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 C Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
(I soak mine overnight with a little lemon juice, but this is optional)
6 C Water or Broth
2 t Salt
Heat the oil or butter and fry the cumin seeds until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until slightly softened. Add the spices and cook for another minute or two. Add water, lentils, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, until lentils are cooked and turning mushy. Stir occasionally. You may need to add a little more water if it's getting too thick.
Adapted from The Curry Book