Together with our Missio family here in England and Wales, we have been supporting Marialaya projects in India for several years. We’re providing safe, nurturing and empowering environments for vulnerable children and women today, so they can build a brighter tomorrow. We continue to help this inspiring project, and recently received updates.

Our Mission in Chennai

You may remember reading about the Chennai Marialaya project back in 2019, when we shared news of Shorti and Vandoosha*, two little girls who had been severely traumatised by the horrific abuse they had suffered. With help from Sr Clara, one of the Salesian Sisters in charge of the project, Shorti and Vandoosha had overcome their terrible start in life and were looking forward to a much brighter future.

Giving hope to the poorest children

In addition to rescuing children at risk of trafficking, Marialaya provides study and tuition classes for marginalised children. These evening study classes provide support for core subjects such as maths and languages, and also subjects like health and nutrition, and safety and protection.

In turn, these children are learning to care for others: reaching out to people in need. Watch this message we received from Janish Virginia, who is helping elderly people in her local community:

Tomorrow’s leaders

Among the fantastic projects on offer from Marialaya is the children’s parliament: a group of child leaders who carry out activities, plan programmes and take action for their community or neighbourhood.

Children are often ignored when community leaders make decisions. But the children’s parliaments give young people the opportunity to present their interests and opinions to the decision-makers in their community. They discuss everything from the development of their health and education, to their rights, and social issues such as the climate crisis and COVID-19. What an inspiring and empowering initiative: when the most marginalised and vulnerable children are given a voice, the future can only get brighter and brighter!

Watch Arkamesh discussing the work of his children’s parliament: we have no doubt he has a bright political future!

Empowering women

The Sisters are also helping to empower, inform and train vulnerable women. They accompany them in gaining education, work skills and a knowledge of their rights. They share:

‘Marialaya’s constant journey with the women made us realise the truth that women are the vital force around which a community grows and sustains itself. Be it in the field of education, health or skill development, empowering a woman leads to the betterment of the entire family which leads to a better society.

‘If one woman can pave the way for a better society, why not train a group of women to empower themselves and their own society through their families?’

With help from the Sisters, women from the community are gaining confidence, knowledge and skills; which in turn is helping their families and community.

New plans

Sr Nirmala recently shared that the Sisters are working on a new project to help disabled children at Marialaya. She shares:

‘There are around 30 disabled children at Marialaya – special children who are 60 – 80% disabled. Our work in Kannagi Nagar extends to children, women, youth and the elderly, and now we want to help the children with disabilities.

‘Please always remember our poor and vulnerable children and extend your prayers and support to them.’

Thank you for making this possible

Over the years we’ve seen Sr Clara and Sr Nirmala turn a few loaves and fishes’ worth of resources into basketfuls of change and improvement in their community. They inspire us every day through what they achieve, and the incredible love and creativity they show as they do it. But it’s the whole Missio family – supporters like you – who make this possible through your donations and prayers. Thank you for supporting the Sisters of Marialaya, and our entire missionary family around the world.

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Together we can help the world’s poorest communities today, and build a vibrant global Church for tomorrow.

*Names changed to protect identities
Featured image: Children take part in Earth Week activities, in which they learn about and explore the environment and how they can protect it.