From far-off India we hope the Lord blesses your life and leads everyone’s steps to the road of salvation.
On 21st November there was a solemnl Divine Liturgy at the Holy Church of the girls’ orphanage, “the Presentation of the Theotokos”. Our joy was double those holy days since we were honored by the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine of Singapore. Actually, two ordinations took place by our Metropolitan on the same day, that of our brother and worker of the Mission Raphael to a deacon and that of deacon George to a priest. On the 25th of the same month we had the ordination of deacon Raphael to a presbyter.
Despite the serious difficulties that the financial crisis has caused to the Mission, with great struggle and God’s help we still manage to maintain the most important of our charity programs: the two orphanages and our school, the common meals for the poorest of the poor and the breakfast for the homeless children of Calcutta, while in the villages our five schools and surgeries are still operating.
The course of the school “Saint Ignatius” is upward, judging not only by the actual progress of our children but also by the large number of applications on the part of poor children of the region for enrollment in the new school year. Thanks to a donation from Thessaloniki, we have started the construction of outdoor hygiene facilities and additional fire exits, which are required for the certification of the school for the higher grades. This work, which is expected to be completed within two months, was a big relief as far as the educational future of our children is concerned.
Thanks to a number of donations from America and Australia the operation of our orphanages was given a life extension. We sincerely thank all of you, who, despite the severe economic crisis with all its negative consequences, thought of us and eased our anxiety.
One of our main targets remains the creation of a farm in order to cover as much as possible not only our own needs in food but also the needs of the institutions and the common meals. Especially now that food prices have doubled and the cost of covering the feeding needs has risen dramatically, this important project is of utmost importance! However, due to the dramatic decrease in the donations because of the crisis, the pace of creating the facilities required is very slow. We have made big progress regarding the fencing of the area and its partial land fill, but there is still a long way till its final configuration in a fertile land.
Even the slightest donation removes the possibility of our children going back to the streets where they were born. We are grateful for your continuous support. Every single contribution -spiritual and material- makes us witnesses of your compassion, your spirit of solidarity and your Christian love.
The charity work of the Philanthropic Society of the Orthodox Church in India is extremely rich. Our Fraternity always tries to support the Society’s tireless efforts. In 2010, we contributed 100,000 euros to the building of a new boys’ orphanage. Both this and an Orthodox girls’ orphanage houses 150 impoverished orphans, found on the streets of Kolkata, West Bengal. The orphanage provides them with accomodation, nutrition, clothing, education, protection from exploitation and, above all, the right to dream of a good future.
Please, do not forget contributing to our orphans in Kolkata. Without your help, the orphanages will close down and 150 children are in danger of going back to the streets. The needs are immediate and pressing. We are confident in your love.
Thanks to our sensitive contributors, 10,000 euros have been raised and sent to India.
We believe we could not thank you enough for your invaluable contribution. In these financially hard times that we are going through, it is a great relief for us to know that you stand by us in our struggle, to feel that despite the distance between us, you are by our side in our efforts to maintain the smile and hope of our orphans, boys and girls.
We feel that you share our anxiety for the present and the future of the philanthropic work of the Mission in India, which we are trying to protect from the instability caused due to the economic crisis. Your slightest contribution is invaluable to the survival of the street children, the continuation of the midday common meal for the homeless and the amputees, the maintenance of our 5 surgeries and the 5 schools in remote poor villages. However, we were obliged to close down 4 surgeries. Unfortunately, we had no other choice.
In this financial depression and insecurity which each one of you is probably experiencing in their personal life, the fact that you choose once more to support us, reveals not only your generous heart but also your trust in the wise management of your donation.
In such hard times your small contribution becomes invaluable, since it springs from real “gold’, love, the most important value of Christian life, which is not very demanding, it just asks for our kind-heartedness.
Logically and with mathematic precision we are going to be unable to operate in a while.
Dear brothers in Christ,
Rejoice in the Lord always!
With your love and assistance I get strength and courage for the continuation of the missionary work. We try to maintain our versatile charitable programs:
breakfast for the street children
common meals for the homeless disabled
5 medical centers and
5 schools in poor remote villages.
However, we were obliged to shut down the medical center in Calcutta and 3 others functioning in the Girls’ Orphanage. Unfortunately, we had no other option.
Despite the economic progress in India, poverty, ignorance and marginalization through the caste system have led millions of Indians living literally on the streets into wretchedness.
On the roadsides, in sheds and even in burrows of old muslim graveyards, thousands of children are born suffering from hunger, lack of water and minimum standards of hygiene, hardships and diseases. The daily wager is survival…
Education is a distant dream, absent even from their sleep. So, you may wonder if there is anything worse. And there really is! Superstitions, the institution of dowry and the devaluation of women in India have led for dozens of years despite the diligent efforts of the Indian government – to the killing of female embryos. If nevertheless they are born, these innocent creatures are often confronted with the possibility of abandonment, maltreatment, enforced prostitution.
Striving to save the orphans
But at the “Theotokos” Girls’ Orphanage, hundreds of little girls since 1999 have been saved and blessed by the presence of the Greek Orthodox Church in India. Saved at last both physically and morally, in their happy voices and smiling faces they are the living testimony of Light in the gloomy darkness of ignorance, idolatry and superstitions.
Ten years later, in November 2009, one more dream became reality: the establishment of the “Saint Ignatius” Boys’ Orphanage. Our little boys, coming from the most indigent social classes as well, have escaped the agonizing present and the bleak future reserved for them and they also became witnesses to Christ’s blessing for their lives.
It’s a real revolution, which we often take for granted and forget, for the little boys and girls of the outcasts, the “contaminated” and “untouched” (as they are classified by the caste system) to learn that they are equal members, made in the image and likeness of God. Can any clichés or the establishment really stand before such a revelation? How new horizons open up in the souls and minds of these tormented lives!
Now, these children, boys and girls, have the right to dream, set goals for their future: The Mission cares for their basic needs and with your help supports them in all their schooling steps: from the first primary class to the graduation from university, which is really a great feat, if we consider that education is not provided for free.
We always try to respect every single penny of donation coming from Greece and manage the finances as soundly as possible:
In order to reduce the costs of tuition fees, we founded and operate the “Saint Ignatius” School, which covers the educational needs of the younger children. Its high level of schooling, as well as the christian education it provides, are free for our orphans and affordable at a nominal price for the poor children of the region.
Moreover, to cut the cost of feeding our 150-and-counting children, we have dreamt of creating a farm that would cover a big part of our needs for food. Unfortunately, the works launched for this purpose have remained unfinished for lack of money.
Our older girls eagerly nestle and look after the younger children and, having completed their studies, they undertake teaching some subjects to the younger ones and assist with the secretarial work at school.
Immediate and real threat
The unprecedented economic crisis affecting Greece has led to the dramatic reduction of donations. The charitable work of the Mission, based almost exclusively on the offers of Greek donors,is being threatened as never before. Anything that has been achieved in this distant country up to now has been done thanks to your precious help: the two-cent-coin of the widow has turned into housing, food, water, clothing, medication, books for the poorest of the poor, where and as possible.
The heart of all our philanthropic actions is the orphanages; we strive to keep them running by cutting down the number of medical centers and limiting even the portions of the meals supplied to the homeless. If the orphanages are shut down, these children, having nobody in this world, are in danger of returning to the streets.
It is very difficult to reach out for help from the suffering due to the fierce financial crisis Greeks. However, together with the Greek people, the missionary work is also put into trial, since it is fully dependent on your own help and not sponsored by any official body.
The needs are tremendous and we are in a stranglehold. We try to cover the operational needs of all of our charitable programs, the orphanages and “Saint Ignatius” School as frugally as possible, but based on our budget estimates, our income and expenses, logically and with mathematic precision we are going to be unable to operate in a while.
The Indian legislation also requires some constructional additions (emergency exit and outdoor toilets) to be made for the school to get licensed for the bigger classes (6th grade and on). The construction cost according to the lowest bid we were offered amounts to 23.000 €. These necessary works are unavoidable, since without this license, the new grades will not be permitted to open. Consequently, our orphans will have to be enrolled in another school and we will have to pay for the costly fees. Such a thing is impossible.
Their parents are you
It is strange how a christian from Greece and an orphan child from India are connected with each other. They do not know each other personally, but they are intertwined rings in a chain of solidarity.
These children have never known the paternal or maternal care, but they do know that somebody from this distant country named Greece cares and helps them. Each and everyone of you becomes a distant image of “father” and “mother”, a model of a real Christian, who minds those in need.
At a time when Greek people are vilified in the civilized European countries, these people become everyday witnesses to their offers, benevolence, solidarity and christian testimony of love. They stand as the silent ambassadors of the real Greece, and in the future they will vouch for this experience; the older children already recognize and acknowledge it.
In their daily prayers, both young and older children mumble a thanksgiving to God for everyone of you, who with your prayer and contribution are of assistace in their everyday needs. You are an integral part of their daily prayers, and we rely on yours too.
On behalf of everyone in far-off India, I express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude, and we send our cordial wishes for the upcoming feast of Theotokos. May the Mother of the Christian people support, protect and redeem us all from visible and invisible enemies.
With honour, gratitude and a lot of love in Christ, Sr. Nectaria