Challakere – a new city on red sand

Sunflowers and ground-nuts (peanuts, to some of us), still waiting for the rains in their sandy furrows, have brought an economic boom to Challakere. Surrounded by villages where people are totally engrossed in surviving, Challakere now has mills that produce cooking oils from these crops, and some steady employment. The Brothers have been here for less than five years, still coming to terms with the newness of it all, the shift of population into town, the wave of new buildings, the demand for schools.

Those living in the smart new homes still own land in their village. They maintain an apron of dried dung outside their front door, and draw on it with chalk each morning the mandala that welcomes God into the home. Walking to school along the dusty streets, we pass them, a living link with their village spiritual traditions.

The red sand comes from the surrounding granite hills; the rains come from much further afield, and are subject to many factors that can deflect or diminish them. Most of us now know that climate change is one of these factors, and that it is calling us to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – and that the gathering in Copenhagen in December 2009 has to make binding decisions about this. What mandala can we draw to signal that we welcome a new future, bringing us all hope?

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