John XXIII College: Immersion to India
We are inspired to continue to support the vision of Mary Ward in our school community
10 students and three staff members form John XXlll College, Perth, were fortunate to travel to India in September to gain a deeper appreciation of the work of the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC)
The Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre’s vision is to ensure that the values of love, freedom, sincerity and justice are experienced and lived out by all. During our visit to the Mary Ward Society’s main office, we heard about their work to create a better life for poor and marginalised communities. We learnt about the education of child labourers, children in the red light district and children working in brick fields.
India has a population of over 1.3 billion people and, sadly, 30% of its population are living below the poverty line. As many as 48% of Indian children, under the age of 5, are stunted, a sign of chronic malnutrition. The reality is that many children do not have an opportunity for education as they are required to work to support their families. Statistics indicate that one in every 11 children in India is working.
The KMWSC is working to mainstream child domestic workers and provide them with educational opportunities so they are able to access formal learning. They organize and facilitate many Multipurpose Activity Centres (MAC) where children from the poor communities come for a few hours a day to learn basic literacy and numeracy. The children also have opportunities to meet with others and play games. Their parents and guardians see the value of the program as a number of children who attended the MAC clubs have moved on to join mainstream education and vocational training programs.
This program highlights the importance of education and, with different stakeholders in the community, as well as the government, the KMWSC has jointly formed a safety net to prevent children from falling prey to child labour.
We would like to thank everyone involved in the Mary Ward Society for welcoming us into their centres and communities. It is really encouraging to see so much hope for the children and future generations. The people working in the Mary Ward Society really inspired us to continue to support the works of Mary Ward, in our own country and in our school community of John XXIII college.
Words: John XXIII Students, Ciara Morrissey and Lucie Bardinet