COMMUNITY OF MAHARASHTRA
What we operate in is a border territory: we are at the limits of the state of Maharashtra and we belong to the diocese of Belgaum, a city located in the state of Karnataka. It is therefore an area on the borders of both a state and a diocese and, as is generally the case in these cases, it manifests itself as a periphery not only at the territorial level, but also at the social level.
Specifically, the area in which our community operates is composed of several small villages: Yeshwant Nagar; Vaitakwadi; Karve; Turkwadi; Talshinhal. The area in which our community operates is composed of several small villages: Yeshwant Nagar; Vaitakwadi; Karve; Turkwadi; Talshinhal. The impression is that of a particularly poor reality, but welcoming and rich in humanity. In Yeshwant Nagar is our house. It is a small village inhabited mainly by Hindu families, but with a significant presence also of Muslim families and a small Christian reality (two families, in addition to our community).
Much of the day and the pastoral activity of our community, however, takes place in the village of Vaitakwadi, where the parish church and, adjacent to it, our school, the Saint Anthony English Medium School, are located. This village has a presence of about 35 Christian families and some Hindu families. In this territory our sisters deal with liturgical service, catechesis, meetings with young people, the formation of women (especially for the realization of adequate hygienic conditions), counseling for families in which there are cases of alcoholism (a fairly widespread scourge in this territory and often determined by the effort in supporting the conditions of economic poverty in which we find ourselves living). Thanks to the support of our Rosminian community, moreover, a general practitioner periodically visits the sick people present.
In each of the other villages (Turkewadi, Karve, Talshinhal) there are about a dozen Christian families with whom we meet once a week for the celebration of Holy Mass. In all five villages mentioned, our sisters visit the families present (Christian and non-Christian), listen to their problems and offer their help. Particularly valuable is the support to study for all the children who need it: in the Yeshwant Nagar, in the late afternoon, some children come to our house to study and carry out their tasks; thanks to the financial support of the community and the availability of some teachers, moreover, the same service is also guaranteed in the other villages.
In addition to this there is the great commitment to the school: human, cultural, spiritual formation is perhaps the most important opportunity for the children of this territory. Every day five minibuses bring to our school about 150 children (from 3 to 6 years) from twenty-five villages. The conditions in which we operate are extremely difficult (especially during the monsoon season): the building is completely inadequate for safety and for a serene conduct of the lessons … but the work, the loving care and the joy of our sisters make this space a real school. The school day (from h. 9.00 to h. 15.00) is marked by a time of prayer (it is really moving to see so many children of different religious affiliations pray all together), motor education, and lessons in English, mathematics, computer science, drawing, dance and singing. Each child is welcomed, loved and helped to grow and learn … a style that attracts many families and makes our school a real oasis of hope.
In recent times a renewed enthusiasm is investing our educational mission: on the road that connects the villages of Turkewadi and Vaitakwadi, in fact, our new school is being built (and, God willing, a new home for the community). Every day, after the lessons, it is necessary to follow the work … There have been and there are difficulties for the construction (especially economic difficulties) but these same are not also occasions in which the work of divine Providence and the goodness of so many people, near and far, who believe in our mission and are actively collaborating in it with generosity … It seems to me that I can say that we are building this school with our prayer, as well as with our work, and it is a work of a Christian community that embraces a territory much wider than the one in which it is rising. As you can imagine, the days here in Maharashtra are marked by hard work, but it is carried out with joy and enthusiasm, in a life of faith and sharing what one has and what one is … among us and with the people. We wish to build together a concrete hope for the present and the future of the children of this territory, to support the faith of the Christian communities present and to be a significant presence for anyone in need of help … the affection and gratitude that can be read in the eyes of the people testifies that this desire is already a reality.