Trip to India is a real eye-opener for Falkirk charity team

Pastor Michael Rollo (left) and Derek Sharkey at the dedication ceremony.
Pastor Michael Rollo (left) and Derek Sharkey at the dedication ceremony.

The plight of some of India’s poorest was witnessed first-hand by a Larbert pastor.

In September, Michael Rollo accompanied charity boss Derek Sharkey to the Sangli and Miraj area of the country, a nine-hour train journey south from Mumbai.

Derek, from Falkirk, is the chief executive of Positive Steps, a charity originally set up to address the problem of HIV in Scotland, but which now also supports work being done to provide aid for sex workers and their families in India.

Pastor Rollo is a volunteer director with the charity.

The two men met with Positive Steps contact the Rev. Timothy Jalam who operates nursery schools for the children of sex workers and HIV victims, adult literacy classes, an orphanage for the children of HIV victims, and a training programme to give sex workers help to find alternative means of supporting themselves and their families.

Mr Rollo said: “It was definitely a very enlightening experience and we certainly returned home with a great sense of appreciation for the work that Timothy is doing in very challenging circumstances.”

The congregation of Larbert Pentecostal Church provided donations which helped purchase sewing machines and Bibles for the people the charity works with.

The Scots also took part in a dedication ceremony at an orphanage in memory of a young Positive Steps worker, Jade McMahon of Dundee, who died aged 25.

They preached at several venues, including the Leprosy Mission hospital, Wanless Christian hospital, the Church of North India, a leper colony and in the red light district.

Mr Rollo said: “We were also invited to hand out around 300 awards at a civic ceremony and were photographed for the local newspaper, as well as appearing on TV.

“One of the things I did notice was the greater respect and deference that there was when you said you were a Christian. There was certainly more recognition and appreciation than you see in our culture. It was a very worthwhile visit.”