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Tribal Boys Hostel in Burdwan

Cmi

22/02/2010: India

Alex writes from Burdwan: After 23 months since our arrival in West Bengal, now we are on our own as a Marist Community in the new mission for tribal boys in Burdwan. After the signing of a three year contract by our Sector Superior on behalf of the Marist Brothers and the Bishop Cyprian Monis on behalf of the Diocese of Asantol, we moved to the Tribal Boys Hostel that remains the property of the Diocese. On 2nd of January we were able to celebrate our Foundation day in the new hostel building. It was also the day that Bishop Monis chose for the handing over ceremony. The celebration was witnessed by a good number of diocesan Priests and Religious. Unfortunately we had very few hostel boys on that day since it was holiday time for students.

At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration Br. Alex made a 30 minute Power Point presentation on our Congregation and Founder. Being the first time that a good number of clergy and Religious Sisters and Brothers heard of the Marist Brothers, the presentation was very much appreciated and arose many questions from those present at the ceremony. After Mass, the Bishop marked the official hand over of the responsibility for the Community College to the Brothers. Then we had our fellowship meal together. It was really a wonderful and meaningful celebration for us all beginning this new mission on our Foundation Day.

The three of us are now living in this hostel building with 31 boys. We have a local man ‘Buddhan” who is helping us and the boys while we become acquainted with the local customs and people. Boys are very happy to receive us and we are also absorbing and planning for the coming days how can we help these boys in the best possible way.

At this moment, we have 31 boys between 10 – 17 years of age. They are paying 300 rupees (US$ 7) per month for their boarding and lodging. Some extra help comes from the Diocesan social service centre and the remainder from our own donation sources. Apart from that, we have now begun to developed our own garden to get some vegetables and fruits. The Diocese has also placed a sizeable piece of land at our disposal. We are now planting rice in the hope of producing enough staple food for the boys and for ourselves for a good part of the year. Close by the hostel there are two Government schools and the boys are going to these schools for their studies. Sometime in the morning and, particularly, in the evenings we provide extra tuition and remedial classes for those boys who are having a low academic performance in the school.

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