A tribute to Jeremy Fernand

Max and Gillian went through a parent’s worst nightmare, the death of their child Jeremy Fernand.

Jeremy was only 19 years when he fell off a running train on the 26th of November 2017. He succumbed to his injuries at Cooper hospital in Mumbai.

It was a shock to his parents and to all of us who knew him and the family. The pain was agonizing, the questions unending.

It was like being thrown into the deepest and darkest pit possible. Gillian cried out to God, praying that if it is His will let Jeremy be raised from the dead. We all wept. Friends and family poured into their home that dark night to comfort them, shocked themselves. The people from their local church enveloped them with love and comfort.

But something unexpected started taking place almost within minutes of Gillian receiving the news at home. She started saying, “Lord if it is your will, I accept it. ” She started praising God at that most difficult moment.

Even Max who was at the Hospital, once he overcame the initial shock, was able to reach out and comfort his shocked friends who were gathered there.

What we witnessed was the triumph of the Living HOPE Jesus Christ, over death, the fleshing out of the victory Jesus won for you and me on the cross, defeating sin and death for ever, once and for all, for we know that after Jesus died, he did not remain in the grace for long but came back to life on the third day, a fact of history that his enemies tried their best to deny.

Max and Gillian have experienced this by believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. They were able to live it out.

At the darkest moment of their lives, this light within them shone through.

This was real faith, this was Christianity at its most powerful moment.. They were able to sing and praise God because they made a choice in their hearts to believe in the promises of God. They knew for sure that Jeremy now was, not in a better place, but in the best place possible, as Gillian kept saying in the days following.

Death was defeated that day and we were witness to it. This was when we started to understand what was meant by the eternal verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The way Max, Gillian and even Gabrielle, his 11 year old sister, conducted themselves during the days following the death of Jeremy was I think the greatest testimony to the resurrection power of Christ. Many people have been touched including atheists witnessing this. One said, if this is what faith is, I want to experience this. At the funeral where over a thousand gathered, everyone was comforted by how the parents behaved. It was almost as if the parents were drawing from an unending well, springs of living water and hope and joy just bubbled out of them.

Jeremy’s blogs have inspired many.

Jeremy’s friends who worked with him at 40 Parables, a company in Bangalore, gave powerful testimony to his life and how he was so different in many ways, his maturity and his wisdom. He used to think out of the box. [He was home schooled by his parents as they believed that was the best way to impart their faith and life to him]

They said that any problem, any curved ball thrown at him he could handle and turn into another opportunity for their company.

Here we saw that the greatest curved ball Satan could throw at a parent became another opportunity for them to display the glory of the risen Jesus Christ to the world.

All praise to our God who lives and loves us with passion. He knows you personally and his greatest desire is to bless you. Would you like to deepen your relationship with this God?

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A tribute to Jeremy and his family

Max and Gillian went through a parents worst nightmare, the death of their child Jeremy Fernand.

Jeremy was only 19 years when he fell off a running train on the 26th of November 2017. He succumbed to his injuries at Cooper hospital in Mumbai.

It was a shock to his parents and to all of us who knew him and the family. The pain was agonizing, the questions unending.

It was like being thrown into the deepest and darkest pit possible. Gillian cried out to God, praying that if it is His will let Jeremy be raised from the dead. We all wept. Friends and family poured into their home that dark night to comfort them, shocked themselves. The people from their local church enveloped them with love and comfort.

But something unexpected started taking place almost within minutes of Gillian receiving the news at home. She started saying, “Lord if it is your will, I accept it. ” She started praising God at that most difficult moment.

Even Max who was at the Hospital, once he overcame the initial shock, was able to reach out and comfort his shocked friends who were gathered there.

What we witnessed was the triumph of the Living HOPE Jesus Christ, over death, the fleshing out of the victory Jesus won for you and me on the cross, defeating sin and death for ever, once and for all .

Max and Gillian have experienced this by believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. They were able to live it out.

At the darkest moment of their lives, this light within them shone through.

This was real faith, this was Christianity at its most powerful moment.. They were able to sing and praise God because they made a choice in their hearts to believe in the promises of God. They knew for sure that Jeremy now was, not in a better place, but in the best place possible, as Gillian kept saying in the days following.

Death was defeated that day and we were witness to it. This was when we started to understand what was meant by the eternal verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The way Max, Gillian and even Gabrielle, his 11 year old sister, conducted themselves during the days following the death of Jeremy was I think the greatest testimony to the resurrection power of Christ. Many people have been touched including atheists witnessing this. One said, if this is what faith is, I want to experience this. At the funeral where over a thousand gathered, everyone was comforted by how the parents behaved. It was almost as if the parents were drawing from an unending well, springs of living water and hope and joy just bubbled out of them.

Jeremy’s friends who worked with him at 40 Parables, a company in Bangalore gave powerful testimony to his life and how he was so different in many ways, his maturity and his wisdom. He used to think out of the box. [He was home schooled by his parents as they believed that was the best way to impart their faith and life to him]

They said that any problem, any curved ball thrown at him he could handle.

Here we saw that the greatest curved ball Satan could throw at a parent became another opportunity to display the glory of the risen Jesus Christ to the world.

All praise to our God who lives and loves us with passion. God bless you.

Unplugging to connect

I had to do something drastic to connect back to my teenage son. Guess what?

He is in the tenth grade now and for the past few months I have been watching him spend hours…well not studying as in from his textbooks, but watching you tube videos or playing mine craft.

So this week finally I had to step in to help him achieve his own goals for this academic, to clear the tenth grade. Remember, a family is there to help support one another!

The first step was to get him to explain to me and understand what he wanted to actually get done.

For that I asked him to make a timetable for the week. He wrote that and we put it up on a big sheet in his room.

Then I gave him three days to see what he was actually able to do on his own. The wifi and internet remained on during this time.

What I observed was that he was simply unable to control the amount of time he spent on the net either on you tube or his mobile or on the desktop or laptop playing games.

So after three days I had to sit with him and make him understand in very simple terms what was happening.

Such is the power of these activities that the child is unable to recognize and tries to justify by saying that he has finished his assigned duties.

So we had to go for the complete solution. Just unplug the modem and keep it away in a secure place, and take the smart phone from him.

This has worked wonders!

We have our son back again!

Do share your experiences with your teenage kids 🙂

 

 

Homeschool Info Meet at Mumbai [HIM Nov 2017] and the growing interest in homeschooling

Over the last few years there has been a growing awareness of the existence of alternatives to Institutional schools as a way to educate children.

This has resulted in those who chose such alternatives years ago now coming together to hold meetings to explain what these alternatives are, especially homeschooling.

Yesterday Mumbai homeschoolers organised a Homeschooling Info Meet [HIM Nov 2017]. The response was beyond expectations, so much so that the initial venue had to be changed at the last minute.

IMG_20171104_110135

It sounds paradoxical to hold a homeschooling meet in a school 🙂 but since the Principal of RCIS [Rustomjee Cambridge International School] Dahisar has graciously offered her place, a big thank you to Tanya Valecha madam and her team, and I believe it is a recognition by those in mainstream education that true education is collaborative.

For those who are interested, please click this link to a Google Drive folder with audio recordings from HIM Nov 2017.

I would like to thank Nivedita and Amit Karnad for organising this HIM Nov 2017 in Mumbai .

This HIM Nov 2017 was a huge success and these are the highlights of the same:

Over 250 adults and kids participated.

The venue was the ground floor open hall of Rustomjee School

We had 6 to 8 experienced Homeschooler/unschooler families who gave 10 to 20 minute talks on their life, experiences, and the various ways in which you can do alternative education.

Swashikshan the all India homeschoolers body was also explained.

Different ways to integrate back to the mainstream in case the child or parent desires to were also presented.

The pros and cos of both systems were discussed along with practical tips in the lively Q & A session.

Tea and biscuits were served, courtesy the School. We charge a nominal fee of 50 Rs per adult and 20 Rs per child for this HIM Nov 217.

If anyone is interested in attending or organising future HIMs please contact us or Swashikshan.

IMG_20171104_111047IMG_20171104_115510IMG_20171104_115514IMG_20171104_115752IMG_20171104_121344

 

 

Mughals, British and India

The Moghul vs British debate in social media reminded me of the words of Jesus: A tree is known by its fruits.

What did the most ardent Mughal followers of Islam do in India?

As Sadguru pointed out, “Building harems after making kafir women their slaves, destroying Indian traditions, destroying temples & building mosques over them, imposing Jizya tax on the people whom they hated the most & considered them kafir, carrying out mass scale conversions at the point of sword, killing brutally legendary Indians like Guru Teg Bahadur, Sambhaji, etc. etc. just bcoz they refused to accept their religion. These are only few examples of their brutalities. They were extremely intolerant & barbaric. Even Osama Bin Laden was nothing more than a child in front of them.”

That may be an extreme view no doubt but there is a lot of truth in the statement.

What about the British?

As Sadguru said, “they were interested in doing scientific researches & technological innovations & engineering.”

While most of the British were Christians only by name, [most were primarily businessmen and soldiers and some were openly against any faith based activities], there were a few, notably the Evangelicals, who could be called genuine followers or disciples of Christ. [A true disciple of Christ will never use force or inducements to convert anyone, because he believes that God who created us, gave us free will to choose, and He respects it. A genuine change of heart from within is what God desires for all of us.]

What did they do? They sincerely did what they believed was needed for the welfare of Indians.

They built schools, hospitals, orphanages, took care of widows and the out-castes of Indian society out of unconditional love, the same love that motivated Jesus to give His life for us. In general there was a lot of work in the field of public health done by the British.

William Carey, a missionary in Serampore, was instrumental in getting the practice of Sati banned after decades of efforts. The reformation movement in Hinduism also was sparked by those who came in touch with him in Bengal.

So as you can see, the Mughals and the British were very different in a few vital areas.

There is a common misconception about what are called the Abrahamic faiths. Christians and Jews are part of the Abrahamic covenant and worship Yahweh.

On the other hand, Islam is not an Abrahamic faith, and the God they worship, Allah, is in no way connected with the God of the Bible no matter how ardently the Muslims may claim it.

The fruits, I believe, are self-evident.

God bless.

Top two myths of Indian Healthcare

I often hear that in India poor people are being pushed deeper into poverty when they have to pay out of their own pockets for healthcare, especially when they avail of private healthcare.

We also often hear about the “high cost of healthcare” in the private sector in India which services 70% of India’s healthcare needs.

What are the solutions we hear being proposed by almost every stakeholder?

  1. Universal Medical Insurance 
  2. Increased Government spending on Healthcare

Let me try to explain why these are definitely not the best things that could happen to Indian healthcare @drspmathew.com

 

Whats wrong with Universal Medical Insurance [UMI]?

If there is one thing we know for sure from the experience of other countries, it is this: Universal Medical Insurance ensures in the long run that no middle class or poor person will be able to afford medical care without Medical Insurance. In a sense, UMI does everything to ensure its own survival!

Why does that happen? There are several factors:

Behavioral changes:

When people do not have to pay for their own healthcare: Have you thought through the way people approach their own health when they know they are covered by Medical Insurance and they believe they need not worry about taking care of their own health, especially in terms of the non communicable diseases NCD’s which are the leading causes of death? worldwide? http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index3.html

When people have medical insurance and do not have to spend for their own healthcare, it encourages a very casual approach to their own health, which is fueled by the media hype about how medical technology is able to treat every known disease on earth. So, the common attitude is, I have insurance, so no problem. If I fall sick, I am covered by insurance, and medical technology will make me alright. Wrong thinking, friend!

The incidence of NCD’s have skyrocketed in all developed countries and increasing even in the developing countries. There are multiple reasons for this rise but behavioral or lifestyle disorders are so called for a reason: Bad behavior causes bad health, and the false sense of security that insured persons have is a major cause for this behavior according to me. 

As a result of this increasing burden of NCD’s, Insurance companies keep increasing the premiums, and the overall burden on healthcare increases dramatically.

Where do you think Insurance companies get the money to pay your Medical bills?

[Read more on The Relation between Universal Health Insurance and Cost Control   http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199503163321111 ]

Disruption of Free Market economics:

Mediclaim and other forms of Medical Insurance try to dictate pricing based not on actual costing studies but on a collective bargaining with providers. Paradoxically this has been shown to raise healthcare costs and lower healthcare quality, rather than bring them down as one would have hoped.

On the other hand, when people do not have medical insurance and must spend on healthcare out of their own pockets, they take all steps possible to avoid getting sick in the first place. They also behave more responsibly to take care of their own health and are very cost conscious.

This cost consciousness enables enabling free market economy forces in the private healthcare sector to keep costs low without unnecessary bureaucratic intervention. This is what has been happening till now in India to a large extent.

Whats wrong with Increased Government spending on Healthcare?

What really happens when the Government tries to step in to provide Healthcare?

The US spends 17% of its GDP on Healthcare. India barely 4%. Per capita annual Healthcare spending in the US is 8600 US Dollars which equals 551195.50 Indian Rupees, while in India and other such countries, annual average healthcare spending is 88 US Dollars which equals 5641.23 Indian Rupees.

Rising healthcare costs in the US force a major rethink on strategy

In the real world, healthcare costs skyrocket when the Government and Medical Insurance companies step in. All that they are concerned about is their own survival. 

When left to the economies of the free market as with any other industry or business, the price of healthcare will remain reasonable, access and quality will be determined by market forces, and there will be no opportunity for corrupt Governmental agencies to dictate their own often selfish agendas. I am not denying that there are several good people in the Government who sincerely believe that they are trying to do good, but the vast majority do not understand the realities and complexities of the healthcare system.

The Government, instead of wasting tax payers money in areas which are not its core competencies, should rather focus on providing basic things needed for health, starting with good infrastructure and a lot more! In these areas the Indian Government can do well to learn from the developed world!

Poverty and sickness:

But why do poor people in India find healthcare expensive?

Poverty is a big problem everywhere but more so in India. Is the healthcare industry responsible for poverty? A better question would be to ask, why are these people poor? And why are they falling sick?

Many poor people in India fall sick and die, because the environment and infrastructure essential for good health were not adequately provided for by the government and other agencies responsible for the same.

Poor people in India

The Government also did not provide a conducive environment for businesses to function transparently and efficiently, resulting in corruption and low wages for the workers. Of course there are diverse reasons for low wages, each of which is equally responsible for the poor person not being able to pay for healthcare.

The result: Poor people living in unhygienic conditions, getting underpaid for whatever work they do.

And when they fall sick, where do they go? Government healthcare, if available, is crowded and not free either. They lose days waiting in line, losing what little income they earned. So what alternative do they have? Private healthcare, that is fast, efficient, and much cheaper than any healthcare anywhere in the world. Why? Because when the pricing of healthcare is left to market forces, competition keeps costs low as in any business in the free market economy.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/most-indians-prefer-private-healthcare-services-over-govt-hospitals/story-KSgqT0rqLIebKzq34wRbJJ.html

Warped Economics:

If this poor person cannot afford the fees at a private healthcare setup, something is drastically wrong in the economics. The poor person is not being paid adequately or unable to save enough.

So, who is really to blame for the poor sick man being pushed into poverty due to sickness? Who is responsible for him falling sick in the first place?

Is it not the Government, which has not provided him basic needs for good health like clean air, pure drinking water and good sanitation? Which has not ensured that he gets adequate opportunities to earn his reasonable livelihood?

Every person in India has a right to claim that the taxes he pays are adequately utilized, not to line the pockets of corrupt politicians through short sighted mega projects in ‘Government healthcare’, but to ensure a life of dignity to the poorest, with the basic needs for good health provided to every citizen of the land.

The WHO definition of Health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The Government can do much more for the health of India if it focusses on what it is paid to do, govern impartially and without corruption, rather than try to enter into Healthcare and muddle it up.  In that way it would be doing a great favor to the health of its citizens.

The Government can mess up Healthcare even if it is relatively non-corrupt like in the developed nations. So one can only guess what is going to happen to Healthcare in India once the Government tries to do anything.

Private Healthcare Providers and the responsible Free Market:

I must salute the private healthcare provider, who despite the odds, is providing a reasonable level of service to large segments of society at a fraction of the cost worldwide. No doubt there are black sheep here also but the model is one that has a hope for a better future, bringing about Shalom Healing to people. 

Let us stop blaming those who are trying to do good, and focus on the real culprits. The people get the Government they deserve, an old saying goes.

I hope I have made myself clear. Neither increased Governmental spending on healthcare nor Universal Medical Insurance is the answer dear friend.

Instead, if it really cares for the health of its people, let our Government take serious steps to improve the basic essentials for good health. Let it restore and improve the quality of our air, water, food and soil.

Let the Government eradicate corruption and red tape within itself, help honest businesses to establish and grow, thus providing people with a reasonable standard of living. This will help to not only improve the health of our nation, but to transform India into a world class nation. Hope better sense prevails in our country. Please pass this on to those who care. Jai Hind!

Air pollution increases risk of childhood obesity and diabetes

A few days back I saw thick black smoke emanating from an illegal roadside garage and stopped to see what was happening.
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Illegal roadside garage emitting carcinogenic fumes

I was shocked to see two men from a roadside garage burning wires made of copper and insulated with PVC, apparently to extract the copper.

In the bargain they were spreading carcinogenic fumes over a residential area housing thousands of citizens blissfully unaware of the deadly air they were breathing.
What are the dangers, you may wonder?
There is increasing evidence for the role of environment in pathogenesis in many diseases. Children below 5 years of age and adults older than 50 years are most at risk. A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks by the WHO has shown that 23% of global deaths and 26% of deaths among children under five are due to modifiable environmental factors. The harmful effects of air pollution on respiratory health are well-known to us and well-established. Air pollution has been linked to many non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancers and type 2 diabetes.
A new study has again underscored the dire need for a healthier environment. This study has suggested that  exposure to ambient air pollution may contribute to development of type 2 diabetes through direct effects on insulin sensitivity and β-cell function. The study reported in the January 2017 issue of the journal Diabetes showed that exposure to elevated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 2.5) had adverse effects on longitudinal measures of insulin sensitivity, β-cell function, and obesity in children at high risk for developing diabetes.
So what can you do?
Here is what I did.
I went to the people burning the wires and asked them what they were doing. They said they were burning wires to extract copper, and this was the first time they were doing this.
I told them the dangers of burning such things, not only on their own health but also on the health and lives of thousands of people staying around.
They immediately doused the flames with water.
Jpeg

Caught and educated

As a good steward of the environment, and a citizen of this nation, be alert and do your bit wherever you are. You will be blessed by the living God who sees everything and is no respecter of persons, dear reader.
Jesus would surely not approve of or tolerate any evil in the area where he lived. I consider myself to be an ambassador for Christ, and take responsibility for what is going on in the area where I live. So I do my bit to tackle any evil or injustice when I see it.
If each Indian were to do so I am sure India would be a much better place to live in, and future generations will be grateful.
God bless you and India.
Do post what you have done to encourage others.