Regina Pacis Region
The Sisters are working very hard in Janampet and in other areas to insure that these children succeed and may live a life with dignity. The compound where our Motherhouse is located is known as Mariapuram. Here we have a beautiful novitiate building, an administration building, St. Lucy English Medium School, grades 1 to 12th Standard, Barbarigo Center for children 2 to 5 years of age—pre school and kindergarten, and Siena Home. Siena Home is a hostel and orphanage for about 200 children the majority of whom are orphans. Without Siena Home these children would not learn how to read or write. We depend on our benefactors for school fees and monetary support for food and clothing for the children. We have an English Medium School in the state of Kerala in the town of Korom. Formerly a rubber plantation, the Sisters have restored the production of rubber and use the income to support the Sisters and children. Presently the school goes to grade four and construction has begun to add a second floor to the lower floor. This school building has been built thanks to a very generous grant from the Branch Foundation. We are looking for benefactors to help furnish the new classes. In our newest mission in Bangalore, we have an English Medium School, grades lower Kg to 12th standard. Bangalore is our newest mission in India.
Though we have an abundance of vocations in India, the formation process is longer, because many of the girls must receive basic education before beginning to study for their teaching degrees. Each year there is a group of about fifteen young women called the “Come and See” group. These girls remain with the Sisters for three months learning our way of life. They have a basic theology course, learn of the life of Mother Foundress and the basics of common life. After the three months they return home and decide if they would enter religious life. If the Community is in agreement the young woman returns to enter the Aspirancy. During the Aspirancy, if needed, the young woman completes her high school courses and upon graduation may enter the Postulate. Should a girl already have her high school diploma her aspirancy period is usually one or two years. And then when the Community thinks she is ready she will enter the Postulant program. Once she enters the Postulancy, the program proceeds as outlined in our Constitutions. By the time of Final Profession, however, there are usually only 4 or 5 women.
Because there are 200 orphans, about 50 young women in formation and about 25 professed Sisters at the Motherhouse we have purchased fields to grow our own rice and vegetables. We also have 15 buffalo, pigs, chickens, rabbits and ducks. All help from bnefactors is needed to help support all living at this mission and cover their school fees.
India, the world's largest democracy, has a very diverse population, geography, and climate. India is the world's second most populated country, and the world's seventh largest country in area. Most of the people are very poor. The average worker receives $530 per year!
Foreign citizens whose primary purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa. Indian immigration authorities have deported American citizens who entered India with a tourist visa and conducted religious activities. In fact, Sister Josephine Di Raimo, the Regional Superior, because of these various mandates, is forced to leave this large young Community for months at a time.
There is a high threat of terrorism throughout India. Terror attacks are a serious and growing threat to U.S. citizens traveling and resident there. For this reason, U.S. citizens must maintain heightened situational awareness and a low profile. Coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai in late November 2008, targeting areas frequented by Westerners, have raised the risk of Americans becoming victims of terrorism in India. Because the locations of the attacks have included luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas, it is becoming very difficult for Westerners to avoid target spots of terrorists.
In 2008, violence against Christians (including foreigners accused of proselytizing) has increased. Mobs have attacked Indian and American missionaries and social workers, as such activity provokes strong reactions in some areas. Anti-Christian violence has seen an increase recently in several areas of India, where our Sisters are located in Kerala and Bangalore. Conversion of Hindus is illegal in some states of India and acts of conversion often become flash points for violent Hindu nationalist feelings. Some Hindu students, after attending Catholic School for 12 years, wish to convert to Catholicism.
Visitors are cautioned to not travel alone in India. Western women continue to report incidents of physical harassment by groups of men. Known as”eve-teasing,” these incidents can be quite frightening. While India is generally safe for foreign visitors, according to the latest figures by Indian authorities, rape is the fastest growing crime in India.
Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding using public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions; restricting evening entertainment to well known venues; and avoiding walking in isolated areas alone at any time of day. Women should also ensure their hotel room numbers remain confidential and insist the doors of their hotel rooms have chains, deadlocks, and spy-holes. In addition, it is advisable for women to hire reliable cars and drivers and avoid traveling alone in hired taxis, especially during the hours of darkness. It is preferable to obtain taxis from hotels rather than hailing them on the street.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in India. Many still suffer from leprosy. And this year there will be more than 3,700,000 new orphans that have lost their parents from the HIV virus! Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, bicycles, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the "wrong" direction (i.e., from the left).
If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station. In the southeastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and fifth-most populous urban agglomeration. We have a new school, orphanage and convent located about 6 miles from the city of Bangalore. There are about 120 orphans who depend on the Sisters for everything they own. Most are not even with their siblings but were just left to survive by themselves when their last parent died from Aids.
Today, as a large and growing metropolis, Bangalore is home to some of the most well-recognized colleges and research institutions in India. Numerous public sector heavy industries, software companies, aerospace, telecommunications, and defense organisations are located in the city. Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India because of its preeminent position as the nation's leading IT employer and exporter. A demographically diverse city, Bangalore is a major economic hub and the fastest growing major metropolis in India. Despite this economic boom, thousands of orphans live on the streets of the city and surrounding areas.