Bishops’ women council helps Kandhamal survivors
By Purushottam Nayak
Kandhamal: The Women Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India on April 21 distributed sewing machines to women of Kandhamal, Odisha, as part of it plan to help the victims of the worst anti-Christian violence in modern era.
Ten women received kits containing scissors, needles, book, measuring tape and thread, along with the sewing machines, at a function held at Raikia, a parish in Kandhamal.
“It is our united effort to build self-confidence among the Kandhamal survivors, encourage and motivate them to stand together as one community to demand their rights,” said Sister Talisha Nadukudiyil, secretary of the council who arranged for the machines.
Kandhamal, a district in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, was the scene of violence against Christians during Christmas season in 2007 and 2008. At least 100 people, mostly Christians, were killed and more than 56,000 people were rendered homeless. Hundreds of churches and houses were also destroyed in the mayhem that last for months.
According to Sister Nadukudiyil, the situation in Kandhamal has not improved much even ten years. “Churches and houses are not rebuilt in certain areas and children have little scope for studies. The youth face bleak future. Women have no work since their displacement,” the member of the Sisters of the Destitute explained.
People have lost everything they possessed, including their land. They now depend on forests for their survival. Some have become daily wagers, the nun explained.
She said many people, including Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur who died on April 19, had contributed to the council’s Kandhamal reach-out program.
The council decided to help the Kandhamal people after its 22-member delegation led by chairperson Bishop Jacob Barnabas of Gurgaon visited the region in 2017.
Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar thanked the council for its help.
Gitanjali Diga, one of the recipients of the machine, said it will enhance he skill. “Money is very hard to earn and I will be able to earn living from it,” she told Matters India.
Jituma Nayak, another recipient, said she would use the machine to stitch clothes for her family. “It will help me save money. I can easily make my own blankets, pillow cases and sheets,” she added.
The women council programs in Kandhamal include supporting volunteers to give tuitions to children in their studies. It also plans to appoint a teacher to take care of the students.
The council will try to get admission for youth who have completed tenth and twelfth grades in church institution. Council also plans to support promising youth to study nursing, engineering and other courses. For this, it plans to raise funds from various sources.
The council will also conduct skill training for housewives with no jobs. “We may go for some vocational training like stitching and embroidery,” Sister Nadukudiyil said.
Destitute Sister Litty John from Delhi spent a month in Kandhamal to give coaching class to the students. “We guided mainly English and math to the students. God has gifted good knowledge and enough memory to the students although, they are suppressed and depressed. If they get ample opportunity they can shine in their academic career,” she told Matters India.
Her companion Sister Alenza Nayak said she found great joy and satisfaction in guiding children deprived of education.
The two nuns together took 30 Kandhamal students to their convent in Nandagiri, Delhi, in April, for summer study guidelines.