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India, Asia

IND15 - Naya Bihani Poverty Reduction Programme

Partnership Ref.:



Pradeep & Merilo Kumar



Funding Status:

Completed - Self-sustaining

Partnership Type:

Community / Agriculture Development, Orphans & Vulnerable Children

Funding Size:

$0 - $2,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 0


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Funding Contact:

No funding required


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Population: 1.2 billion

Life Expectancy: 63.4 years

GDP: US$1017 per capita

Unemployed: 10%

37% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact

63 families are being assisted

10 families are accessing microloans

53 people are in vocational or agricultural training

Partnership Overview 

generating some incomeThis partnership involves the establishment of a micro-loan programme to provide poor, unemployed and widowed villagers the opportunity to develop small scale income producing enterprises focusing primarily on chicken, goat and pig farming, growing produce for sale, or small shops (e.g. tailoring or tea shops). Naya Bihani means "new morning", a name our partners chose to point to a new day, a new beginning and a new hope for the people involved in the programme.

The two main sources of employment in the Darjeeling area are tea plantations and tourism. Both of these are highly seasonal, making it very difficult for families to secure consistent and sustainable income throughout the year. The lucky few who are able to secure full-time work in the tea gardens still only earn around US$1.80 per day. Casual workers, who work around eight months of the year picking tea, earn even less: a meagre US$1.50 per day. To survive adequately in the villages our partner tells us that a wage of around US$3.50 - $4.00 per day is needed for a family. 

involving churchesMany families therefore rely on vegetable planting or animal rearing to survive, or they send members of their family into the cities to earn a more viable income. However, with such low potential to generate income, there is a high risk that young girls in this area will be lured to urban centres with a 'promise' of high incomes. Sadly, when they arrive the opportunity is usually within the sex trade of the cities. 

This background highlights the significant need to provide opportunities for local village people to supplement their meagre incomes. 

Darjeeling Christian Assembly currently has around 11 affiliated churches in surrounding villages. This micro-loan programme is being run out of five of those village churches as part of their desire to help the poor and needy in their communities earn a sustainable income.  

History of Partnership

lots of landDarjeeling Christian Assembly (DCA) was planted in May 2007 by Pradeep Kumar (from Kerala) and Mhontsen Lotha (from Nagaland). Both are Master of Divinity graduates from India Bible College and Seminary which planted this church in response to a vision Dr T Valson Abraham had to start churches in every postal code of India.   

Darjeeling Bible Training Center (affiliated to India Bible College and Seminary) was subsequently started to train people to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and plant churches in Darjeeling, Nepal, Bhutan, West Bengal and among the scattered Nepalis. 

Pradeep first contacted Bright Hope World in 2011. Merilo, his wife, is from Nagaland and knows Pastor Subong Aier from the Bright Hope World partnership there (IND12). Pradeep has visited and spent time with Pastor Aier to understand how Bright Hope Nagaland works and has found his input invaluable. It was Pastor Aier who put him in contact with Bright Hope WorldBright Hope World's India Partnership Facilitators first met Pradeep and Merilo in 2011 and spent a few years developing a relationship with Pradeep, visiting again in 2013, before the partnership was commenced in late 2014. 


some of the beneficiariesBeneficiaries

The beneficiaries of this partnership are those in the community, known by members of the church to be poor, needy, unemployed or widowed.  

What We Like About The Partnership

Pradeep and Merilo are a young couple with a genuine passion to impact their community through their church family. Their heart is to share the love of Christ through preaching, teaching, and helping those in need. They understand that the vision has to be shared by the village church members, and they encourage strong accountability amongst those involved.


Key People 

great familyLeadership Profile

Pradeep Kumar is originally from Kerala in South India. He is married to Merilo (from Nagaland, East India) and they have a son Joel (born 2010). Pradeep studied theology at India Bible College and Seminary in South India, and is currently the Pastor of Darjeeling Christian Assembly. He also oversees the Darjeeling Bible Training Centre where students study to complete both a certificate and diploma in Theology. Together they lead two homes that house and educate 27 children who have come from very poor or abusive family environments. 


Other People Involved

The church is governed by a team of people, led by Pradeep. The team is made up of: 

- Pradeep Kumar V K
- Naizal Ramtel
- Merilo Humtsoe
- Syangden Tamang

Naizal Ramtel works as an evangelist and worship leader at the church. Pradeep has known each of these people for at least the past eight years, since moving to Darjeeling. 


Vision And Annual Strategy 


wanting to change livesDarjeeling Christian Assembly is committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, planting churches and helping the poor in Darjeeling and the surrounding area where there are very few evangelical churches.   

Pastor Pradeep and his team's vision for this micro-loan programme is to provide poor, unemployed and widowed villagers the opportunity to develop small scale income producing enterprises focusing primarily on chicken, goat and pig farming, growing produce for sale, or small shops.

The next stage of Pradeep's vision is to develop a training programme for knitting and weaving. He believes there is a good market for this in Darjeeling and in wider India. 

Pradeep says our desire is to "work with the community as a whole.  We want to share the love of Christ to the people, with the Lord's grace, through our works. We have always believed in a "holistic approach" to reach the people. Our ultimate aim is to share the love of Christ through our preaching, teaching, works and help."


her businessThe micro-loan programme is run by a team in each of the five village churches, co-ordinated by the pastor of the church. The secret to the success is the strong mutual leadership and accountability that is formed from the local church. Pradeep meets these pastors once every month for mutual encouragement and to review the progress of each self-help group. He also visits the villages as he can to meet the local groups in person. 

Applications are received from those wanting assistance and are assessed by those running the programme from the church in that village. Applicants may themselves be church members, or may be a community member known by one of the church members.  

Loan amounts vary depending on the nature of the project that the individual wants to invest in (e.g. calf, piglet, shop, material for knitting etc). The maximum term of any loan is two years, with most animal-related initiatives expected to be repaid within 12-18 months. Interest is not currently charged by rule but members are encouraged to provide a thanksgiving amount at the conclusion of repaying their loan so that the fund can grow. In March 2015 (approximately 6 months after this initiative started), one of the groups had already begun to add further members due to the repayment amounts received. 

Pradeep does not want to add any more finance to the self-help groups as he believes they should now be self-sustaining. Stage 2 of the strategy is to develop a training programme for knitting and weaving.