18 February 2018

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01/22/2013 INDIA

Salesian nuns help enslaved girls in Tamil Nadu

In Chennai, the St. Joseph's Special Care Home feeds, clothes and educates orphaned, abandoned and abused girls, from 4 to 18 in age. Rashmi is one of them. Sold at the age of six, she was beaten and abused by her employer. The home offers sports, games and singing to complete the girls' education and give them the "best possible future."

Chennai (AsiaNews) - A group of nuns from the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (also known as the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco) are providing a home, food, clothing, care, education as well as leisure and sport to a group of girls and young women who survived abuse, child labour or the loss of their parents. They are preparing them to fight the future exploitation of Indian women.

At the St Joseph's Special Care Home in Chennai (Tamil Nadu), eight nuns are responsible for 150 girls and young women, between the ages of 4 and 18, who come from families that are too poor to raise them, wards of the state brought to the facility by the police or sent by court order. St Joseph is recognised by the government.

Over the years, girls and young women of different backgrounds with different stories found a place of refuge at the home. One of them is Rashmi, who arrived in 2009.

"Rashmi," Sr Clara told AsiaNews, "was only six when she was forced into slavery. Her mother could not raise her ten children so she sold her daughter to a businessman from Chennai who took her in to work as a maid. For two years, the girl cooked, washed and cleaned the man's house. Every time she made a mistake, he would beat her. One day, neighbours heard her cries and realised that Rashmi was being mistreated and abused, and so they called police."

The police and the nuns saved the girl, taking her to St Joseph. The man was arrested.

"In six months, Rashmi blossomed," Sr Clara explained. "She learnt to speak Tamil (originally from Rajasthan, she spoke only Hindi), made friends, began going to school and follow a healthy diet. Now more than anything else, she is getting the love and care she deserves."

Girls living at the home attend nearby schools. Some 56 go to St. Anne's High School. Another 15 go to St. Agnes Middle School. Two girls are going to college and six are getting private tutoring. Whenever they have problems, the nuns help them do their homework.

"All of our efforts are geared towards giving them the best possible future," Sr Clara said. "For this reason, the home is also a place for games and fun: singing competitions, dancing and painting. As for physical activities, the girls do everything from running to shot-put. Some girls are also learning needle work and tailoring."

Another important aspect of their education is learning about human rights, as well as child trafficking and sexual violence so that they know what they are and how to fight them.

For Sr Clara, "St Joseph is one family because we take care of the young women with love and compassion. Thanks to outside contributions, we can raise them in dignity, helping them to grow fully."

See also

01/12/2010 INDIA
Aids story: Daughters of Christ’s love for the most marginalised patients
St. Vincent’s Home in Kerala cares for men, women and children living with AIDS and HIV-AIDS. It is one of the many Catholic institutions involved in this field. “We are happy to serve AIDS patients without looking at their differences of caste, creed or language. For us, they are as suffering members of Christ,” one nun said.

07/12/2015 INDIA
Affected by the flood, missionaries help neighbours in Tamil Nadu
Although the city of Chennai is still under water, the airport has reopened and power has been restored to homes. At its peak, the water was neck deep. Nuns handed out bread, milk, biscuits and clothes donated by friends and their local parish priest. The authorities “promised to contribute to the efforts. But no decision has been made about how to use government funds.”

23/02/2017 09:35:00 INDIA
India, Franciscan nuns promote inter-religious dialogue: An experience of deliverance

In 1986 the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary created groups for Interreligious Dialogue. Their work is developed in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of India. They created a network of collaboration with other organizations that support friendly relations between religious communities. Thanks to mutual understanding, conflicts between Christians and Muslims defused.


11/08/2005 INDIA
Biggest Bible on display at the Chennai Book Fair

11/12/2015 INDIA
Indian Church handing out relief aid to flood-stricken Chennai residents
The Bishops' Conference of India has launched an appeal for solidarity to all Catholics. Caritas and the Global Council of Indian Christians were among the first to act. Indian dioceses are mobilising for further assistance. Overall, 269 people are confirmed dead with 3,000 families displaced, 7,700 houses destroyed, and about a thousand shanties swept away.

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