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UNION OF SISTERS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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All Hallows Catholic College and Presentation Sisters, India

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17/05/2017

In 2009, I was invited to visit All Hallows Catholic College, Macclesfield. While there, the Principal was having a conversation about an outreach project in India with a gentleman from the British Council. I intervened, inviting the Principal and the college to take on a project to build a clinic for our Sisters in Varasanadu. We have never looked back.  I now do two days a week as Chaplain in the school working alongside the full time chaplain.

In April 2017, the school announced that Sr Susan (part-time chaplain) and two staff members would be taking 10 students to India primarily to visit the clinic. Students were invited to apply for places on the trip.  There were 29 responses from 15 – 17 year olds.  Reading the applications, I wondered how we were going to choose 10 students!

To the question Why do you think All Hallows should continue its support of the clinic?  The responses included

  • Because it changes their lives and our lives
  • We help them to have a sustainable way of developing
  • We are from privileged backgrounds and have the wherewithal to help change their lives
  • We have already made a difference to their lives and it’s our duty as a Catholic school and as human beings to continue to support them
  • It’s amazing that the small amount each student donates – which is often insignificant to us, builds up a large sum that is enough to be the difference between life and death

To the question, what do you think you will gain?

  • it will change my entire perspective on what is important in life
  • will gain a huge sense of appreciation
  • will give me an insight into Indian culture
  • will gain an insight into issues that we in this country do not have to deal with
  • See how best we can continue to support the clinic and those who it serves.

How are you going to raise the funds you need to go (outside of school?)

  • cake sales; sponsorship; bag packs; raffles; stall at local market; babysitting; selling honey; making and selling keyrings;  sell ice creams.

Having visited the clinic, the students and staff sit down with the Sisters in the community and talk about what is needed next. A wonderful example of listening on both sides and a way of teaching the students not to assume that we (in the West) know what is best.  The school is committed to raising at least £4,000 a year. It is wonderful to see how the clinic has developed to not only providing medical care but to providing education and empowering women.

We also give the students time to engage with the young people in the schools we visit and hoping this time that they will spend more time in the school in Theni doing some coaching in English. All Hallows is supporting the school by funding to provide extra English tuition.

All this is enabled by the Sisters on the ground – to whom we are deeply grateful for making our visit possible. In 2016, on the evening we were to leave for our flight home, the eight students were standing outside of Church Park – crying and refusing to get on the bus to go to the airport because they did not want to leave the Sisters. What more I can say?

Susan Richert PBVM

 

 

 

Categories: Social and Pastoral, Global Education Experience, Latest News