On a pastoral visit to Chhattisgarh in 2012, Msgr. John Kozar met with the Snehagiri Missionary Sisters. (photo: CNEWA)
The Snehagiri Missionary Sisters, a Syro-Malabar Catholic community of women religious in India, have begun an initiative that serves hundreds of expectant and new mothers and their children in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
CNEWA’s regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, in an email describing the program, says the success of the program has been astounding. “Hundreds of people have benefited,” he notes, “including pregnant women from 587 families in ten villages. “
The initiative, which CNEWA supports, has helped educate mothers about proper nutrition and health care. The sisters have conducted health camps and training sessions for teenagers and caregivers on a variety of health and nutrition issues, helping to dispel some popular myths about pregnancy and childcare — including, for example, the notion that an expectant mother will have a smoother delivery if she eats less and if she refrains from appearing before others while pregnant. The result has been a marked improvement in health and well-being among new mothers and their children.
“Snehagiri Missionary Sisters send a big thank you to all those good benefactors who support this endeavor,” Mr. Thomas writes. “I feel very satisfied when such a worthy project is properly implemented.”
Learning in Lebanon
School is a luxury for the children of refugees fleeing war in Iraq and Syria for Lebanon. However, the Joint Christian Community (J.C.C.) in Dbayeh, with funding from CNEWA, runs an educational program that has created a sense of community and hope for many of the displaced.
From our team in Beirut, we learned of Rafeef, a 7-year-old Syrian Muslim with a learning disability, who has benefited from psychological and speech therapy offered by a professional therapist at the J.C.C. center. Rafeef now dreams of becoming a doctor one day and being able to help other children like her.
“Spreading hope is the ultimate road to success for every disadvantaged child,” wrote CNEWA’s regional director in Beirut, Michel Constantin.
“The presence of such centers is proof that generations can be saved when children can hope for a better future for themselves.”
For another glimpse of education in Lebanon turn to Page 30.
A Home in Ethiopia
In February, members of CNEWA’s team in Ethiopia paid a call on the Abune Endreans Children’s Home in Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia. CNEWA has long supported the Capuchin-administered home, which has helped many girls — some orphaned, some rescued from poverty and addiction — to grow, become self-reliant and learn to care for themselves and others.
During the visit, a number of former students returned during their semester break from university to help support its 48 enrolled girls.
“The visit was very touching,” says CNEWA’s regional director in Ethiopia, Argaw Fantu. “Reflecting on the changing landscape of the region, we recognized the clear impact made by the Catholic Church in helping these young girls through this facility and others.”
Up for Debate
For many years, CNEWA has supported AFKAR for Education and Cultural Development in Palestine, a youth program that encourages research, critical thinking and debate, with the goal of deepening relationships between Christian and Muslim high school students.
Members of CNEWA’s team in Jerusalem recently attended the final session of AFKAR’s annual national debate competition and saw firsthand the results of this work — and the fruits of the CNEWA family’s generosity. The students remarked that the program has transformed their mindset, and explained that they now see debate as a vehicle to strengthen their intellect and character. Among the finalists were students long supported by CNEWA: the Terra Sancta School in Jerusalem and St. Joseph School in Bethlehem.
A small grant from CNEWA has helped a group of women, who volunteer their time and expertise to support the local community, in Bir Zeit, a Palestinian Christian village in the West Bank.
The funds have helped the Bir Zeit Women Charitable Society start a community kitchen to empower disadvantaged village women, teaching them valuable skills and generating job opportunities. Now with the right tools and equipment, the women can prepare traditional Palestinian foods, opening the village to other markets, revitalizing community life and even promoting tourism.
‘Ambassador of Love’
Our Lady’s Peace Home in southern Kerala, India, has served as a gateway to a healthy and fruitful life for hundreds of children with hearing impediments. The home is managed by the Rev. Joseph Kadavil, who has been running the home for 32 years. He heads a group of teachers who teach the children in sign language. This gives them confidence and eventually may help them learn to speak along with the signs.
“Father Kadavil is a real ambassador of love in God’s mission,” writes CNEWA’s M.L. Thomas, regional director of India.
He “provides a loving environment for children. A special child needs extra help. They need friends and teachers who understand their difficulties and loneliness.”
CNEWA has supported Our Lady’s Peace Home since 2007. It is among the 36 child care facilities of the Eastern churches designed to help those with special needs, including those with hearing, vision and emotional and physical disabilities.
“CNEWA is blessed,” says Mr. Thomas, “to accompany such important works of the church.”
To learn more about children with special needs in India, turn to the next page.