Interview mit Rachael Alphonso, Mumbai, Indien

von Jutta Hajek

Interview Rachael Alphonso_JOYCE August 2014

Erschienen in der Ausgabe Nr. 3/2014 des Magazins JOYCE

English version:

An Interview by German journalist Jutta Hajek

My World

What are important topics for female Christians in other countries?
For this page we ask some of them.

A small insight into the life of …
Rachael Alphonso from India.

What made me happy recently is …
… that my former school invited me as a guest of honour for the Republic Day on 26th January. Normally they invite 40-year-olds. I am only 24. The management of the school thought I would be able to inspire the children. In my speech, I encouraged them to read a lot to widen their horizon.

Whenever I need inspiration, …
… I ask myself: What would Jesus do? I believe he was considered as fairly modern then. In India you have to weigh every word. Probably it was the same in Jesus’ times. But when dealing with Pharisees and hypocrites, he had to be uncompromising. His honesty and integrity are values I uphold as well. He gave his fellow human beings much love, but he was assertive where necessary. I find that difficult. Assertive women are unpopular in India.

A project that I am currently thinking about is …
… a PhD – hopefully in Germany. I like the medical research there. I am fascinated by the search for a solution for food scarcity in India and other countries. I research illnesses that come from wrong or lacking nutrition. In 2010 I carried out a study among HIV-positive children in Mumbai. People who have no job have no money and no food either. Cultural influences play a role, too. HIV-positive people cannot tell anyone about their illness, because they will be banished from society. It is even difficult to get support from one’s own family.

A question that moves me currently …
… If there is food on my plate, why is there no food on other people’s plate?

Women in my country think about the following subject …
… I personally think there should be more gender equality. India is a patriarchal society. Only a few areas in the northeast of the country are matriarchal. The problem is that some women do not realize they are victims of atrocities, for example in connection with rape in marriage or the dowry system. Women who stand up for their opinion as vehemently as I do are considered unfriendly. The typical Indian woman restrains herself. Traditionally in India the husband goes to work and the wife takes care of the family. In Mumbai, however, life is so expensive that more and more women need to go to work, too.

A bible verse that challenges me personally …
… “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Religion and culture suggest that we must suffer to take the mark of sin from us. Living in self-sacrifice is a traditional value in India. But if Christ gave life in abundance, why are we put in chains?

A concrete experience with God …
I experience God when I work with HIV-positive people in the slums. They have no hope, see no light. When I listen to them, show them possible solutions, they feel accepted. Recently I got involved in an activity of the movement “Arctic 30”. 30 journalists went to the Arctic to prevent companies from drilling for oil. We organized a cycling tour. Many joined who think about the environment as I do. This made me feel good: There is a God in Mumbai, in India, in the world. Otherwise it is easy to feel surrounded by hopelessness. If I want the world to be a happier place, I have to be this happiness. I cannot be sad or angry and expect the world to be happy. I have to be positive. It works – really!

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