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Service Above Welfare

Service Above Welfare

Drug addiction destroys the future of thousands of young people. They get disoriented in life and indulge in all kinds of crimes. Different people get addicted to various things – addiction to food, addiction to clothes and fashion, addiction to sex, addiction to internet mobile and so on. There are people and organisations who are victims of welfare addiction. They indulge in distributing charity to the poor and make it an exhibition. There are organizations indulging in distributing food to the poor more for their gratification and publicity than a genuine concern for the needy.

Christmas is a time when Christian institutions organize distribution of clothes and food to the poor. By doing such charitable acts during the Christmas season, they feel great pride and satisfaction of giving witness to their Christian faith. The same people and institutions refuse to give just and decent salary and other facilities to their workers and staff. They are not willing to allow their co-workers such as cooks, drivers and gardeners to eat with them on the same table. They fail to realize that God is present in the poor and the lowly all the days of the year. God whom they worship is also present in all human beings. Why is then this distinction and discrimination in life?

Addictions of all kinds prevent our growth. Religious people become easy victims of welfare addiction. After amassing much wealth and indulging in luxury, people at times feel guilty. They let out their guilt by doing some charity and offering a part of the wealth to gods in temples, churches and other worship places. Priestly class cleverly exploits the guilt and religious sentiments of people.

I have also come across people who give for charitable causes with genuine feelings of solidarity. They do it not just on a particular occasion. Giving generously is a character for them. One such example I could see when I visited Carmel convent, Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh. Sr. Jaya CTC, the provincial and her community sisters were busy preparing Christmas kits to be distributed to the poor. Unlike many others they do not distribute cooked food for the poor. During the Christmas every year, they pack provisions required for a family and distribute to seven hundred poor families gathered from different slums of the town. Each kit contained 2 kg aatta (wheat flour), 2 kg Rice, oil, sugar, tea leaves, dal and other items. During the jubilee year of the school, one blanket each was also added to the provisions. Sr. Jaya CTC also distributes new pair of clothes to more than hundred rickshaw pullers who carry students daily to the school.  

The attitude and the spirit which motivated to do this activity edified me more than its charity aspect. “God has blessed us abundantly and we need to share our resources with those who are needy. What we do is very little in comparison to what we receive from God,” said Sr. Jaya. She and her community respond generously whenever any tragedy occurs in any part of the country. She was able to motivate teachers and students of her school to support the flood victims of Kerala. Teachers and students of this small town together gathered over three lakhs of rupees. The Sisters in the community contributed three and a half lakhs rupees from their salary. Another six lakhs rupees were added from the school making it a total of twelve lakhs. She made sure that the money reached to the deserving families by sending it directly to their bank account.

The school has 120 poor children educated under the category of Right to Education, RTE. The entire expenses for the education of these children are met by the school. Several other students also are given concessions for the education. I was glad to hear that Rs. 49 lakhs are spent for the education of the poor every year. What makes great is the attitude with which she gives it. “We are only happy to do this because we believe in giving back to the society. We are not here to amass wealth.”

Apart from giving good salary to her staff, she provides them gifts on different occasions. She stocks variety of gifts such as clothes, inspiration books and other mementos for this purpose. “When we give generously, we get back hundredfold” is the argument for her generosity.

She has an innovative way of celebrating her birthday. Together with some of her staff and students of USM movement, she visits the local government hospital to visit the patients and offer kits containing fruits, glucose packets and other useful articles. They go to the bed of each patient and after interacting with them gift the kit of fruits. This year they did it to over 250 patients. The patients were surprised by this rare act of love and compassion. “If there were people like you, the world would be a heaven” was the reaction of the patients.

The generous gesture of Sr. Jaya CTC had its impact on the young students of the school. Inspired by her example they too wanted to do something similar. The students purchased 70 blankets from the money saved from their pocket money and distributed to the poor in the locality during the winter this year. When the students shared their experience in the school assembly more students were inspired and wanted to give. They collected soaps, toothpaste, biscuits and other useful articles. They made 1000 kits with these articles for distribution. Youth can mobilize resources and work miracles. Someone has to show the way by example.

Welfare activities are organized by many. The significant part of this activity is the team work behind it. Sr. Jaya was able to motivate the members of her community, school teachers and students to be part of this activity. It was a team mission. All of them personalized the spirit and attitude to accomplish the mission. There was a process of educating all about the vision and spirituality of the project.

Sister Jaya CTC had experimented with this kind of mission successfully in the cities of Lucknow and Jhansi where she worked in the past. She was narrating the hard times they had while she was Principal in Lucknow. There was no money even to pay salary to teachers and they had to borrow money for the same. “The whole project of expressing solidarity with the poor began at Lucknow where when we did not have resources,” said Sr. Jaya. “We can’t wait to become rich to give to the poor. God gives to us when we start giving,” she added. She presents a model of service above welfare addiction.

Born in Kerala in 1958, Sr. Jaya was in the field of education for the last 38 years. She had been Principal of schools for 16 years in Lucknow, Delhi and Neemuch. She is eager to make education holistic. She believes in mentoring the students beyond the school campus. With this purpose in mind she organises regular alumni gatherings. Recently she had facilitated an alumni gathering which was attended by 600 of them. They came from different parts of India and abroad. The entire organization and expenses were met by them. The alumni association has established scholarships for education of the poor students and awards in the name of the first Principal.

It was heartening to note that CTC congregation has given top priority for this mission with alumni association. There are prestigious schools which are more than 100 years old which do not have alumni associations. Even if there are some they do not function actively. Only people with vision can understand the importance of mentoring the ex-students through such associations and gatherings.

Sr. Jaya looks for new opportunities and possibilities of improving the education and making it a mission. It is because of this spirit of learning she was attracted to Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace, Indore and started sending different groups of students for the week long enlightened leadership training and exposure. She had taken all her Principals for participating in the National Peace Convention, a new initiative to build peace and harmony in our beloved country, India. Humility to learn and experiment new ventures make her mission effective. Those holding leadership positions, who are slaves to unproductive and outdated routine, should learn from Sr. Jaya CTC on how service can be their life’s mission.

  (Published on 21st January 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 04)