Student Tackles Humanitarian Tasks in India

Aaron Bailey firmly believes that it is his mission in life to help others through hard work and by spreading the word of the gospel.

Aaron's beliefs took him to India the last two weeks of October to work with the Dalit-Bahujan people of India, otherwise known as the untouchables -- the poorest of the poor in the world's second-largest country.

"It was the hardest I've ever worked and the most organized I've ever been in my entire life," Aaron said of his India trip. "I definitely got a lot of leadership skills out of it."

Aaron, 18, traveled to India with 2008 Foothill graduate Luke Greenaway and Dublin youth minister Tim Barley. A man from Honolulu also went on the trip, which was hosted by Valley Bible Church in Pleasanton. Aaron attends Valley Community Church, but is a longtime friend of Barley.

Aaron and his three travel mates worked closely with Operation Mobilization International or OM. It is an expansive missionary group that spreads the word of the gospel and provides aid to the poorest people in more than 110 countries around the world.

Aaron had to work extra hard for his trip to India. In addition to the grueling challenges he faced in a foreign land, he had to get his trip approved through Foothill so that he could be allowed to miss two full weeks of school. He worked double time in the days leading up to his trip so that he could complete all his classwork before he left town.

Once in India. Aaron worked closely with the leaders of OM India in Hyderabad, India, to learn about the group before focusing his efforts on the Dalit or untouchables. OM works closely with families to establish health clinics, improve the schools and upgrade villages.

"It was a lot of hard work," Aaron admitted. "We're showing them the love that Christianity has. The message that is being spread is that we're helping the poor when nobody else will help them. That's why they're called the untouchables. They're outcasts."

OM also distributes micro-loans to some Dalit people so that they can establish businesses to help pull themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty. Recently, small loans were given to build a barber shop and establish a small hotel.

The four travelers briefly had time to visit Delhi, New Delhi and the Taj Mahal while in India.

Amazingly, this is not Aaron's first mission trip. He has previously traveled to China, Cambodia, Mexico, San Diego (twice) and New Orleans for other mission trips. Aaron hopes to travel back to China, perhaps in the summer. In fact, he plans to focus his efforts on China and India.

"People need help everywhere, but I can't be everywhere at once," Aaron said. "God's calling me to India and China."

Aaron plans to major in biology with a minor in photojournalism when he heads off to college next fall. He has not yet chosen a college, though he's applied to three private and three public colleges. He's not sure if he'll go into ministry as a career, but plans to continue his missionary work at least as a volunteer.

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009