India – Orissa
Sanjit Sai Tidu
Sanjit Sai Tidu is a boy of 17 years of age. When he was only 4 years old, he was carrying a lit lantern filled with kerosene. Accidentally he tripped over a stone in the dark and spilled the kerosene upon himself and his clothes caught fire immediately. He received about 60 percent burns on his small body. The family is very poor. They could not afford to take him to the hospital and so tried the village treatment for him. While he recovered slowly, his left leg suffered a serious contracture of the muscle ligament below the knee joint. Thus, he was left to live his life crawling for the coming years of his life. He was unable to open his left leg as it became fully contracted. He still struggled on to the village school about three kilometers away from his home. He crawled through the dusty streets to and from school. His mother ran away with another man and his father is a drunkard. So, the burden fell on grandparents who lived in a small hut. With the meager earning of the grandfather, the child was brought up.
Having heard of our presence here, the family immediately sought us out for help and were fully confident that we will make the child better. Their faith was a revelation to us that this is God’s call to us to express our apostolate in this place. Having discussed the matter of the child with a nearby hospital, the doctors were most willing to help in this situation. In the month of March, the child was operated, the ligament was enlarged, and skin-grafting was done. After the child was discharged from the hospital, we brought him to live with us in our little home. Daily dressings and physio-therapy offered by Brother Anil, has now brought much improvement to Sanjit. The leg (as seen above) is made fully straight and the boy is able to move about with support. Soon, he will be able to walk, run, play and live the normal life that every child lives.
We also participate in parish activities in-so-far as we can manage. Bro. Christopher teaches catechism to the little children who are preparing for their First Holy Communion. On a daily basis he goes and offers the spiritual works of mercy, thus building up our relation with the local parish. We have also been given the permission to say Mass in the villages and slums we visit regularly so as to enliven and invigorate the faith of the people so that the parish can once again be blessed by their presence while our apostolate is also built. It helps us to reach out to so many who are thirsting for the Living God.
- Setting up a home for children who are orphaned
- Organizing Food Line for the poorest families in the nearby Christian villages
- Organizing Mobile Clinics for poorest Christian villages
- Establishing slowly the full-fledged MOP apostolate for homeless and destitute
There had been wide-spread persecutions of the Christians in the Eastern belt of Orissa, i.e. in the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. Though it is very far from the Western belt, nevertheless the reverberations of the persecutions were felt by all Christians in Orissa. Beginning in December 2007, the Hindus began persecuting the Church through the diocese of the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. The persecutions reached its peak in August 2008. Thousands of Christians fled to the nearby forests and many priests and religious had to go into hiding or as refugees in the nearby dioceses. Christians houses were burnt; statues were broken to pieces; Church properties were vandalized wherein parishes were set afire, tabernacles broken and the Sacred Host treated with sacrilege; vehicles and houses of priests and brothers and sisters were broken and burnt; a catholic nun was raped and the priest with her was beaten severely; another priest was found in hiding in the nearby broken Church and was beaten so badly that he died later in the hospital; lay Christians were beaten first and then buried alive with only their heads sticking outside the grave; some others were burnt alive; many others were tortured and then their heads were cut off and thrown in the nearby ravines. Such outrageous acts done against the Christians had only made the faith of the suffering more firm. The State and Central government did not intervene until very late. Even in the refugee camps the Christians were treated with hostility.
At present the situation is calm. A form of a cold-war is prevalent still, whereby the Christians cannot buy rations even if they have money. The government provided a roll of plastic and only Rs. 10,000.00 (U.S.200.00) for each family to find re-settlement in their hometowns. They are still treated with hostility by the Hindus living there. No help is offered to them and their cries go unheard.
In the midst of all this, we as MOP still move about in our habits without fear and believing that God is on our side. We move about freely and joyfully among the poor who welcome us with loving hearts. We live our Monastic Life of Prayer and Work in community and amongst the poor.