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From Trauma to Transforming Communities in India: Reuben's Story

From Trauma to Transforming Communities in India: Reuben's Story

I was a normal kid growing up with everything I needed for a comfortable life. My father was a successful businessman in our community. I didn’t know I was a Dalit. I didn’t experience harsh treatment by my society who treats Dalits as people marginalized from the privileges in society because they’re below the caste system.

Unfortunately, my parents did not have a good marriage and were always in conflict. When I was 12 years old, I saw my mother kill my father. From then on, my brother and I suffered trauma and loss. We were called the children of criminals, as my mother went to prison.

My name is Reuben, and I have a story of transformation and redemption.

Relatives took us in for a while, but I had to do hard work for them. I suffered from abuse and extreme poverty. Even though I was a good student, I wasn’t able to continue my education. A group of people invited me to be with them each week. They demonstrated their acceptance by treating me with love and kindness. The anger and shame I felt began to release its hold over me. 

I had hope that my life could be different because of a holistic change in my mindset and my soul.

When I was able to go back to school, I studied hard. My goal was to get a degree so I could improve my status in society and get out of poverty. After graduation, I joined an organization that provided a college education to Dalit youths who worked in community development projects throughout India.

This experience shaped my future, as I had a growing desire to help people just like me who live in poverty and trauma due to their low position in society.

While studying in college, I met IDEAS Associates who taught there. I saw they were people of integrity who treated everyone with equality, love, and compassion. I longed to be with them and learn from them. I had never seen anyone like them. When I graduated, I asked if they would be my mentors. Eventually, they took me into their family.

I became healthy and whole in my body, mind, and soul. For the first time, I felt loved.

Today I’m the director of the Dignity Development Center in the Idduki area of India.

My IDEAS Associates helped me start this business two years ago and continue to work with me. We offer hope and vision for Dalit students whose parents want them to improve their life situation through education. The center provides English classes, tutoring in math, science and other subjects, as well as counseling and mentoring.

Families come to our game nights to enjoy themselves. We work with families to help resolve conflicts and teach them truths that will bring lasting change into their lives.

At the Dignity Development Center, we see lives change through love and respect—what every Dalit hopes to find in life. They have the vision to overcome poverty and hope for a meaningful life with opportunities for advanced education and better jobs. 

They have a vision for who they can become. 
I’m a role model for them and can do this transforming work because of the impact of IDEAS and their Associates in my life.

About the Author: Reuben (BA, Business Law; MA, Cross-Cultural Studies) is the director of the Dignity Development Center in Idduki, India and is from a Dalit background. Enjoy other stories of transformation, such as Wanmay's Story.