Calcutta- Sister Nectaria Paradisi, who has been in Calcutta since 1991, describes the work of the Greek Orthodox Mission in India. She sent the following to our newspaper Greek Insight:
«Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, greetings in the Name of the Lord! I am glad for the opportunity that is afforded to me, to communicate with all of you. Our deepest thanks for your love and interest for so many years in supporting our missionary efforts in West Bengal- India , where I am working since 1991. My problem of obtaining the necessary Visa is finally solved, and, after three years of absence, by the Grace of God, in November of 2006 I returned back to Kolkata, to commence once again with my Service (Diakonia) to the Mission.
Despite our absence for many years, enduring many difficulties, hardships and temptations, the activities that commenced and achieved by Fr. Ignatios, now Bishop of Madagascar, and his collaborators, has been preserved with the support of Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. All these years in India we persevered in a difficult environment, with the aim to spread the gospel message of Jesus Christ and simultaneously, as much as humanely possible, to give witness of Christian love in our actions, to the destitute, and infirmed of India. With this mind set we developed and established the following programs.
- Every morning we distribute fortified Milk and Biscuits to two hundred and fifty poor malnourished children.
- Every Monday we dispense food to one thousand people who suffer from various infirmities such as, leprosy, blindness and other physically disabilities.
- Operating and managing eight Medical Clinics and one Dental Clinic with free medicine and free medical staff services
- Five Primary schools located in rural areas providing free tuition and text books and all essential school personnel and equipment.
- A Girls Orphanage with occupancy for two hundred girls.
- Free construction and renovations of many small houses and two rent free apartments for the poor.
- Tube wells drilled in villages and schools for safe drinking water.
- Farm animals and sewing machines distributed to the needy.
- Donating hand operated bicycle wheelchairs for the disabled.
- Distributing clothing, food and medicine to the poor in rural areas.
- Providing Scholarships for higher achievement in education.
- Providing upgrading of impoverished dwellings with electricity and sanitary facilities.
- Also The Vocational School is completed and functioning with classes in Arts and Sewing. The programs are designed to developing skills for the girls at the Orphanage who are unable to advance in higher education, and to train and educate women from the surrounding area, who are illiterate and unemployed, with the goal to develop financial independence, self sufficiency and entrepreneur abilities.
There are other necessary programs waiting for implementation such as Physiotherapy and Computer Training, but due to lack of funds are unfortunately unable to be started and sustained.
But none of the programs mentioned could be realized if we did not have for all these years your tremendous support and collaboration in doing the work of God.ƒn Sadly, due to lack of funding and large debt owed to the contractor, unfortunately the Blind School will not be completed as planned.
Hostel and School for the Blind.
This large building and area, if God helps us to complete, will become an Eye Clinic. This can be finished and operated at lower cost. The necessities for this Clinic are supported by statistics that reveal a sad fact. Six million poor people in West Bengal have suffered blindness because they lack the financial means to afford a simple cataract medical procedure and subsequent treatment.
For the programs currently operating and for buildings under construction, with the large debt owed to the contractors and the many necessities of our mission; we are facing financial hardships that seem presently over-whelming. Especially after the transfer of His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, who after the departure of Fr. Ignatius covered monthly all the cost of all philanthropic programs and ecclesiastical works of the Church. We trust in God’s providence and we maintain our hope for the future.
As concerning the pastoral and catechetical works, despite all the difficulties the programs have been sustained and continue by the Grace of God. Except for Kolkata, we are expanding in West Bengal, where we have orthodox believers and church activities in sixty two villages. Currently the total number of baptized people is at five thousand, plus three hundred catechumens. This year in 2007, twenty souls have been Baptized in Kolkata and forty-five in the village of Ghorada. Presently there are eleven Priests, one Deacon and eighteen catechists, who travel to the various villages for liturgical activities and catechism
Once a month there is a meeting of priests and catechists, allowing for discussions and guidance of current programs, and for their spiritual and theological edification.
Also in September 2006, as in almost every year, we had in the village of Akina, the Seminar, which included priests from America conducting theological teachings and discussions with the clergy and faithful of India in collaboration with OCMC of USA.
We have built until now sixteen churches of which four of these remain unfinished, requiring various internal furnishings and implements for completion. There are also fifteen plots of land that we own, and dream as any believer would, of one day building a church on all these properties. Despite our present financial inabilities we are hopeful that in the future with God’s help we will restart construction of churches as soon as a solution to this economic crisis is solved.
In conclusion, I would like to express once more our warmest thanks for your continuous Love and Support during all these years. Please pray that the Lord will give us the patience and courage and illumination to solve the various problems, and to strengthen us for the challenges ahead, for the Glory of His Holy Name and the salvation of many souls. My heartfelt prayers, that the Lord will grant good health and blessings for all your work.
Sincerely yours in Christ love,
Sister Nectaria Paradisi
Any financial assistance can be sent directly by wire transfer to the mission bank account:
In the name of: THE PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
A/C No : 031-110802-006
SWIFT CODE: HSBCINBBDAL
Bank : Hong Kong Bank
31 BBD BAG – KOLKATA 70 001 - INDIA
Or by check in the name of THE PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
send by registered letter to
Sr. Nectaria Paradisi
Greek Orthodox Church
2A Library Road
Kolkata 26 – INDIA