With Knowledge, Comes Hope
The Loreto Sisters of the Province of South Asia first landed on Indian soil 178 years ago. Today, these intrepid Mary Ward women continue to touch the lives of those in difficult situations, including reaching those in need in formal and informal academic settings, in the ‘red light’ areas and on the streets and in the slums. MWIA is proud to partner with and support the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC), established by the Loreto Sisters to deliver life changing programs to women, children and families in need.
KMWSC recently launched three new programs to mark its fifth anniversary.
- The Sanitary Pad Initiative
- The Child Rights and Protection Program (supported by
- The Legal Aid Program
The National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) in India is collaborating with KMWSC to implement The Legal Aid Program, by having students of the law school visit the districts of Bengal. “When we work in the community, we have seen that villagers have little or no knowledge about the law and are often exploited. On many occasions if someone is missing, they do not even report it to the police,” said Director of KMWSC, Loreto Sister Monica Suchiang. NUJS will provide the community with much needed practical legal knowledge.
The KMWSC in association with Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview launched The Sanitary Pad Initiative to produce sanitary towels for marginalized women in society. The idea occurred to Sister Monica after having listened to the stories of the female workers in a brothel. She asked them – “What makes you happy?”. One of the women replied: “We are happy for the three days when we have our period…these are the days when I don’t have to entertain clients.” Machines will produce sanitary towels and assist the girls with their hygiene needs, helping to alleviate everyday pressures.
MWIA directly supports KMWSC to facilitate open air schools for migrant children living in brickfields on the outskirts of Kolkata. There is no education within the brickfields, except in the schools run by KMWSC. Currently 15 schools are in operation and school enrolments have increased from 509 children in 2018 to 778 children in 2019. Health programs, free check-ups and medication are administered to all children and adult workers who seek treatment. 651 migrant labourers received health consultations and free medicine over the last year. All students who stay and complete the school day are provided with nutritious food. The new Child Rights and Protection Program helps to further educate children and their families about child rights, the potential risk of child trafficking, early marriage, and the consequences child labour.
Former Loreto South Asia Province Leader and President of the centre, Sister Anita Braganza, reflected on the fifth anniversary:
“Our hope is that this work will continue. As it does, it is not about us being the powerful ones helping others. I believe this work is about us being transformed.It’s about the Loreto sisters being transformed, it’s about our hearts being touched who work with KMWSC in whatever capacity. If we are touched that’s part of the success”.
– Sister Anita Braganza
MWIA echoes the words of Sister Anita and hopes you will continue to be touched and moved to partner with us in continuing this good work.
* Reference – Quotes and adaptations from ‘Law students to turn teachers’, The Telegraph, India