This Advent, we have been receiving updates from our partners in Chennai. The Marialaya project, run by Sisters of Don Bosco, is doing all it can to care for the poorest and most forgotten children and families in the local community. Disaster struck in the form of Cyclone Michaung recently – a severe cyclonic storm which hit India’s coastline, killing many and leaving more without shelter and in desperate need of evacuation. Throughout the dark days which followed the storm, the Sisters have worked tirelessly, never giving up hope, to get immediate help to the people of Chennai and Kannagi Nagar – the huge urban ‘slum resettlement’ on the city’s outskirts. Please help us to support the Sisters in Chennai>>
Hope in the midst of disasterSister Nirmala has been getting word to Missio whenever she can and while the Sisters have not escaped flood damage and misfortune themselves, they have also not stopped looking after children, families, and elderly people around them. She recently shared:
‘Now the situation is slowly improving. Elders are taken care of with food, clothes, and medicine.’The resilience and determination of the Sisters and their community is nothing short of inspiring – especially as we know that the situation across the southern states, and in Chennai in particular, continues to be devastating. While the water levels are dropping, a huge oil spill has also affected the city, and of course, there are the countless people who are without shelter or sustenance.
Messages from ChennaiSr Nirmala told us:
‘I am sending wonderful wishes to you and all our friends and benefactors. Today we had Carol singing and a drawing competition [for the children and young people].’Alongside meeting basic needs for food and water, the Sisters are providing prayerful space and time for youngsters to learn, play and take part into some ‘normal’ Christmas activities, which must be a great comfort to the children and their families. We have also been inspired by photos of some of the artwork, which Sr Nirmala sent us. Alongside pictures of the Holy Family and other Christmas symbols, two talented older children drew moving pieces of artwork: one depicts Christ in the midst of the floods in Chennai (above), while another shows the baby Jesus in the rubble of Gaza. These striking images say so much about solidarity in prayer. Given all that the children in Chennai are experiencing now, the pictures communicate that even when times are very hard for the petitioner, there is always space to reach out to others through prayer and action. The children know that Emmanuel is truly ‘God-With-Us’ in times of distress.