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People: Amy Carmichael

Why did Amy set up the Dohnavur Fellowship?


Amy Carmichael was an amazing Christian woman. She lived between 1867 and 1951. In her life, she helped lots of children who needed a home in India.

Amy grew up in a rich family in Ireland, where she went to the best school and had everything she needed. However, things were soon to change. Her father's business lost a lot of money, leaving her family unable to live such a grand life. Amy had to leave her school to help her mum look after the younger children.

It was one cold night when Amy was leaving church, that she saw an old woman staggering down the road. Her clothes were torn and muddy, with rags covering her feet.

Amy felt sorry for the woman and went over to help. As she walked, she heard a voice say, "Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw. The fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the foundation survives, he will receive the reward."

Amy knew that the voice was from God and she also knew that, even though she appeared kind by helping the old woman, her heart was wrong as she felt ashamed to be seen with her.

When she got home Amy prayed a promise to God that in the future she would only do things to please Him. This prayer was to shape the rest of Amy’s life.

Amy began to work alongside the pastor of her church with the poor in her own town. But at the same time, she felt an even stronger desire to go and work with the poor in other countries. Eventually, she moved to India.

In 1901, Amy met a 7-year-old girl named Preena, who had no home or family. She told Amy about the many children who were living the same way as she was. Amy was so sad about this that she started the Dohnavur Fellowship. By 1913 the Dohnavur Fellowship had been a home and given education to 130 children.

During Amy's lifetime, over 1,000 rescued boys and girls were housed, fed, and educated at Dohnavur. Amy became known as Amma, which is the Tamil word for mother. She was just like a mother to the children she looked after.

Do you think it was easy for Amy to move to India? Have you ever had to leave your home? How did you feel? Do you think Amy made a difference to the children's life? How can we make a difference to the lives of the people we meet?