by E.I. Hillin
When local pharmacist Randy Stuckey stepped out onto the streets of Delhi, he experienced for the first time the smell and the haze, and knew a part of him would never be the same.
“They cautioned me that when you step off the plane it’s a whole other world and it’s like a dream,” he said. “They weren’t lying.”
For two weeks, beginning on Feb. 19, Stuckey traveled through the area of Delhi, India with fellow Sunday School member Rex Austin. The two Mustang men visited India to work with Hopegivers International, a faith-based, non-profit organization that is both non-governmental and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt.
Austin began his work with Hopegivers in the early 1970s and now serves on the board of directors. He made his tenth visit to India this year. However, it was Stuckey’s first trip and one he said he will never forget.
Stuckey and Austin attend Chisholm Heights Baptist Church and it was there Stuckey first heard of the work of Hopegivers International and the stories of trips made by Austin.
“He kept telling me about these kids who were so special,” Stuckey said.
According to their website, the mission of Hopegivers International is to rescue orphaned, abandoned, and at-risk children, restore their broken lives by meeting their spiritual, emotional, educational, and practical needs, and train them to repeat the process of hope by bringing the Gospel to those in their own country who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.
While in India, the men visited orphanages and churches set up by Hopegivers International. They spoke to congregations and children about God’s love. Many people in India still observe the Hindu caste system which labels the lowest caste as “untouchables.”
Stuckey said it was these discarded people, the lepers and the orphans, who made the biggest impact on him. When he visited a leper colony, he reached out to shake the hand of a man no one else wanted to touch.
“When you shake somebody’s hand and you feel the bone, you know you feel the bone sticking out the ends, it’s humbling,” he said. “And watching them just well up with tears because nobody will take the time to have any kind of physical contact with them.”
Stuckey said he plans to travel back to India. His work now will involve searching for funding to distribute crucial vaccines, like the hepatitis vaccine and the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
“My big goal was to find out what the need was,” he said. “I was blazing a trail for the future.”
India is a country within southern Asia and is situated between Pakistan, China, and Nepal extending to the Indian Ocean. The life expectancy in India is 63 and the percentage of people who can read is at 60 percent, according to National Geographic.
New Delhi is the capital of India and is in the northern section of the country. The city’s population is nearly 300,000 and it is home to a mixture of religions, some of which are violently opposed, including Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and Parsi.