India Mission


... Scalabrinian response to the socio-pastoral challenges
posed by the impact of mobility to people's lives ...
   


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Pitching the tent in India:
The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo – Scalabrinians pitched tent in Trivandrum , Kerala , South India in May 2005, consequent to the creation of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of People on the Move. Since their inception, the focus of the Scalabrinian Sisters' mission has been to respond to the socio-pastoral challenges posed by the impact of mobility to people's lives in the Archdiocese;  although the Commission which they coordinate covers work involving diverse categories of people on the move , it lends more energy and resources to assisting parishes in developing service programs that may accompany migrants (with their families left behind) to achieve the goal of their decision to emigrate and may help in raising awareness towards the human cost of emigration to whichever part of the globe.

Mission ground:
This Scalabrinian mission becomes significant at the background of a socio-cultural and religious pluralism of the State of Kerala where the majority are Hindu with the ruling communist party in government. The mission stands up to diverse tests of courage, perseverance and determination. Meanwhile, the unabated exodus of people, - regardless of religion, culture or ideological orientation, - silhouettes the poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities to raise the standard of living and low salary, that are deeply rooted problems in the State.
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These factors continue to fuel mass emigration and may only be addressed with the establishment of a more sustainable model of development that can provide good paying jobs and afford life opportunities that are better than what can be offered by the migrants’ countries of destination.

The Church in the Archdiocese is concerned not merely with the causes of emigration but also with the effects of the phenomenon where economic gains are gravely eclipsed by the cost and consequence to people's lives and relationships.  With almost every household today in the State having a migrant member or members working in another state or abroad, it is commonplace to find a family without the father or mother or both, without the children in the case of the elderly and house structures with only the caretakers to look after.    

The episode of the Gulf Wives, married women whose husbands are away working in Gulf countries, makes a classic illustration. They are estimated to be more than 1 million in number. They are neither too young nor too old. They suffer major adverse consequences such as loneliness, added responsibilities, indebtedness due to loans incurred to finance emigration, inadequate financial returns from emigration, mental anxiety, worries about the future and less
security. Younger Gulf Wives are affected by the separation problem in higher degree than the older ones. A fairly large number of Gulf brides were left by their migrant husbands within days or within month of their marriage. This results to cases of infidelity and wives leaving family in favor of the more gratifying new found relationship.     

On the other hand, the Gulf husbands while remaining far from their love ones and their familiar environment not only have a share in the pain of separation but in addition have the mental, psychological and physical demands of work to contend with. Those who are not as fortunate in the choice of employer end up enduring inhuman work and life conditions for the whole duration of their contract. There are cases reported of non-payment of wages and compensation, long working hours, inadequate living quarters, dangerous work conditions, verbal and physical abuse and peer pressure which lead to unhealthy habits like heavy drinking and smoking as well as promiscuous sex. There were reported instances when these husband migrants had to return home to seek medical and/or psychological attention.  

The children, however, are observed to suffer a growth imbalance in the absence of both migrant parents and/or the migrant father or mother. The effects are seen in their school performance and in their relationships whether with siblings or relatives. The most alarming consequences are drug addiction among the youth, early marriages, dropping out from school, nervous breakdown, displaced anger as well as excessive fear and insecurity.

Not only the wives, husbands and children bear the cost and consequence of emigration but even the elderly left behind. Migration has increased loneliness and insecurity among the elderly. It has increased their fear of burglary or theft as most of them live on their own without any younger persons to share their household.   

Reassuring indications
With five years in mission as "migrants among the migrants" in India, the Scalabrinian sisters have expanded their tent to include  young aspirants and postulants as well as Lay Scalabrinian Missionaries who collaborate with dedication in their work in the Archdiocese.

Their mission ingeniously entrenches itself with local vocations. This is an urgent process for a Scalabrinian mission in a country like India; and as a process began with the grace of God, it continues to yield grounds for auspicious expectations.         

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Scalabrinians for India is the official site of the Scalabrinian Mission Community - Province of Our Lady of Fatima, Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo. Graphics and design created by the staff of IndiaMariae.com.

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