Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009
Sponsors learn the reality of south India; mothers groups become CFCA model
The creativity and dedication of the CFCA community in India has become an ìexpansion-of-vision centerî for staff members from Bolivia, U.S.A, Honduras, Kenya and now Guatemala. Two of our colleagues from Guatemala (Jorge Armas, coordinator, and Alvaro Aguilar, regional director) were invited to participate in the experience of this mission awareness tripófollowed by a more in-depth study of the Hyderabad model of mothers groups. Jorge took ill the night before departure and was not able to travel.
We are happy to be here in Chennai (Madras). All the diocesan priests from the Archdiocese of Chennai together with their archbishop are on retreat at the same convent conference center where we are staying. Father Cyrus Gallagher, a CFCA preacher, was able to concelebrate Holy Mass with them this morning.
12-hour train ride
We made it to the train station in plenty of time for our 12-hour overnight trip to Palay and a good rock-me-to-sleep night on the train in triple-decker sleeping bunks. Athletic types generously scampered upward.
Visit to a familyís home
About 50 kilometers out of Palay, we visited subproject SPT. About 30 mothers and five elderly received us at the humble home of Petchi. For sponsors Gene and Jean, this was a very historical moment, after 11 years of sponsorship of Petchi. Gene said that this day has been one of the ìgreatest in his life.î
The mothers became teachers and the sponsors learners, as we enjoyed a beautiful and meaningful dialog for a couple of hours. One of the special gifts Jean had prepared for Petchi was an anthology of their relationship over these past 11 years. Iím sure it will be treasured.
The profound joy of belonging to CFCA was expressed by children and their mothers, who were clad in sharp-looking blue saris. Following dancing, dialogue and emotional sharing, sponsors were very quiet in the van as we made our way back to Palay in the night under a beautiful Pongal/Harvest Moon.
Major mothers group gathering
At the Palay CFCA gathering, 3,000 mothers in cheerful and bright identical CFCA saris were on hand, along with 1,000 or so children and aging. The gathering included all the formalities of anointing, blessing with incense, lighting of the lamp representing the five major elements of Godís power, reception of local civic authorities and local CFCA board members.
A central message in many of the children and mothersí songs: religious harmony should reign in the world. ìInjustice, dowry, child labor, caste system, religious atrocity Ö whatever it may be, we shall overcome.î—sung by nine mothers.
Mothers group conference resolutions
- “Female infanticide should be completely eradicated with all our might. Women are the true eyes of a country. Education should be made available to girls at all levels of society which, to our bad luck and ignorance, remain only in the law book. Equal salary rights and civil rights should be stabilized.
- “Dowry, the devilish curse on this society, has to be checked at both sides of bride and bridegroom relatives. The law is active over this issue to some extent, taking severe steps, but only on those who demand dowry at the time of marriage. Yet this cancer is prevalent in society as a deadly disease. It could be more effective if the law were equally serious to seek and find those parents and relatives who wish to give their daughters away in marriage, gifting dowry under the sleeves.
- “To help prevent sex abuse and maltreatment of girls, they should be provided the opportunity to learn a simple and easy martial art for self-defense.
- “The culture of this country must once more find golden periods in the hands of women. The culture of this country being an indelible identification mark of the nation, we resolve hereby as a rightful duty to save and preserve it.î
I will write more later as I begin the next phase of this trip with the Guatemalan delegation. Thank you for your prayers and solidarity.
Best wishes for the New Year.