Tim & Diane Fonderlin – Singapore
Tim & Diane Fonderlin – Singapore
"Baksheesh! Baksheesh!" was the cry that assailed us anytime we ventured out of our apartment or office. Outstretched hands tugged at our clothing and pleas for money pulled on our heartstrings each and every day.
As difficult as it was to see any human being begging, the most heartbreaking were the children. Little girls would come to us in the market place and plead with us to carry our bags in the hope that we would “tip” them. Sometimes those few coins were all a family could count on to buy a bag of rice.
Even though we had both been raised in modest homes, Tim and I were taught to look for ways to help those less fortunate. Growing up we knew in our homes there would always be room for an extra seat at family meals or a warm bed for someone going through a difficult time.
In fact, our whole purpose in going to Bangladesh was to help families to have decent, low-cost houses. Beyond that we made extra rice and meat when preparing meals to share with some of the many families living on the streets but still it was not enough to meet the tremendous need of that country. We prayed for ways to be able to respond positively to those whose lives had been reduced to begging.
Our prayers were answered when Mike and Rosey came knocking at our door. We first met this school teacher couple from the Shetland Islands in northern Scotland during a church service and knew from our brief conversations they taught at the Christian school located near our apartment in Dhaka. We also knew they lived on the edge of a slum.
It was while they were living close to those slum dwellings that Mike and Rosey experienced first hand the oftentimes miserable existence the poor, and especially women, endured. Lack of education keeps many women and girls bound to a life of desperation. For that reason, the Christian school teachers decided to find a way to reach out to young girls and help them to learn the basics of reading and writing. The Christian school quickly responded by offering the use of a classroom while a benefactor provided enough funds to pay for a teacher. However, they still needed money for the girls.
Mike and Rosey approached several of us from the church with the idea of sponsoring a young girl and explained that our donations would help to buy uniforms, books, papers and pencils for the girls. More importantly, a portion of the money would be given to the girls’ families in lieu of the youngsters working in at-risk environments like the marketplace or a garment factory or even being forced into marriage at an early age.
Tim and I chose to sponsor two young teenage girls and over the years have been delighted with updates from Mike and Rosey on their progress in this very unique educational program called “Asha” or hope. The program continues to grow by leaps and bounds and was even “adopted” by a US Ambassador who helped to raise funds for the school’s expanding needs.
In addition to providing schooling, Asha today offers life skills training along with sewing and handicraft courses. Our struggle to meet what seemed to be insurmountable need was rewarded with being able to see wonderful opportunities realized through education and the hearts of two truly caring school teachers from a tiny island in the world’s northern hemisphere.
Tim and Diane Fonderlin
Singapore and India
Tim and Diane Fonderlin are serving as missionaries in Southern Asia while living in Singapore. Tim and Diane both work on building relationships with the local churches in Asia Pacific and the USA.