Her journey to India starts one year earlier when Priscilla Aderemi attends a big mission conference arranged by Nigeria Evangelical Mission Association (NEMA). At one of the seminars she gets introduced to the idea that she can be a missionary and study at the same time. This option ponders in her head when someone gives her the book «Dalit Freedom Now and Forever» by Jopseph D´souza.
– I scanned quickly through its content and was shocked. I could not understand that millions of people were deprived of basic rights just because they were born in the wrong people group, says Priscilla Aderemi. She contacts one of the speakers at the conference, who has lived in India, to get a clearer picture. He confirms the information in the book, and tells Priscilla to ask God if he is calling her to go to India. After a few months in prayer she is sure that God wants her to go, and she applies for a master program in rural management at the university in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
Thoughts about the Dalits, God´s calling, and the uncertainty for everything ahead flows through the young woman´s head as she travels from Lagos to Lucknow in October 2014. She arrives late afternoon, finds her luggage and heads for the exit at the airport not knowing where the school is and how she will get there.
– God, what should I do now. I need your help, she prays.
She decides to ask for assistance from a man who works at the airport. He is not familiar with where the university is placed, but looks it up on internet.
– It is too far for you to travel there tonight, he says when he finds the information. Then he goes ahead and books a hotel for her - and a taxi that can take her to her accommodation. The following day the staff at the hotel books a cab for her all the way to her university.
Ready for anything
She still remembers clearly the first impressions after landing in a new culture.
– I did not really know what to expect, but had prepared myself for huge differences. So I was basically ready to tackle whatever would happen, says Priscilla Aderemi.
She still found it strange that the first sari-clothed woman she met had dressed in a way that exposed her belly. Showing the belly is regarded as indecent in Nigeria.
– I wondered if she had done a mistake when she put on her sari. Then I saw another woman dressed the same way, and then another one, and I understood that this was normal, smiles Priscilla.
The incense and all the gods and goddesses in the hotel where she stayed the first night, also draw her attention.
– I looked at everything and said to myself: You have finally arrived in India.
Mother for trafficked victims
Early on in her three year stay in Uttar Pradesh, she got involved with an organization that works to free young girls who have been trapped in sex slavery, prostitution and trafficking. In collaboration with the police, the organization rescues young girls from places where the sex industry operates. The girls are then placed in care homes or rehabilitation centers run by the organization. Priscilla Ademani became a host mother in one of their homes.
– I had a desperate desire to show these girls the love of Christ. Many of them were filled with anger and distrust because of what they had been through. We tried to meet them with patience, care and love. In the beginning I didn´t know their language. But you don´t need that to show love. Love is a language on its own. It was amazing to see how several of the girls changed over time. Their anger was replaced with happiness as God helped them to let go of their past. Many of the girls gave their lives to Jesus, shares Priscilla.
Her three years in Uttar Pradesh were filled with joy, excitement, and the fulfillment that comes when you know you are where God wants you to be. The time was however also full of cross-cultural challenges and loneliness.
– I was the only African in the city who wanted to hang out with local people. From time to time I wished I had someone to share my experiences with, smiles Priscilla.
She would not trade her years in India for anything, and she highly recommends other young people to go. Getting to know people ignored by the society, was one of the things that made the greatest impression on her.
– In India there are people who are born, grow up, live their whole lives and then die on the streets. It was rewarding to meet with some of them and communicate that God loves and cares for them even if they are ignored by the society.
– The work among these people, and among the sex-trafficked girls, taught me a lot about who God is. Through the interaction with these precious people I learned to show and receive unconditional love. Living in India gave me lots of cultural insights, and my studies provided me with new, professional knowledge. Nothing I learned was however more important than experiencing God´s love without conditions and being allowed to provide this love for others, says Priscilla Ademani.