I spent a month in India in February 2006 doing voluntary work, helping with the children at the St Josephs Social Service Centre which is a small orphanage on the outskirts of Chennai in India. The centre was originally set up in 1984 by Sister Bakkiam who is a Franciscan nun.
Sister Bakkiam had discovered children under the age of five were being left to roam around on the streets while their mothers, the main breadwinners of the family, went out to find work. She started by taking in 40 children for day care then 10 years later in 1994 she started to give refuge to semi-orphaned children. The St Josephs Social Service Centre now have 23 children who are semi-orphans ranging in age from 3 - 14 who live there day and night. They also take in 90 children six days a week from the poor neighbourhood area so that the mothers can go out to work.
It proved to be a life changing experience for me in many ways and after living at the St Josephs Social Service Centre for a month I couldn't turn my back on them and walk away. I have been running a series of talks throughout the North East of Scotland to raise funds for all the children living at the St Josephs Social Centre and also campaigning to find sponsors for some of the children to have the opportunity to go to an English speaking school in Chennai. I have been overwhelmed at the response that I have had from the people of the North East –‘there has been a lot of interest in my story’. I am going back again to India in January and plan to continue to do so for a number of years to help the children in whatever way I can.
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