Kunja’s Athletic Success
Jesuit Missions is working in India to provide educational opportunities to marginalised children
Kunja Rajitha has defeated the odds by winning a silver medal at this year’s Khelo India Games. This is India’s premium national youth athletics tournament. Performing in the 400-meter track competition, Kunja’s achievement is an encouraging example for others that have faced a tough start in life.
Kunja comes from an indigenous community in the forest region of Andhra Pradesh, Southern India. She had a difficult upbringing, her father was murdered by Naxalite insurgents. Kunja’s mother has single-handedly raised her family without government support because of their migrant status.It is common for indigenous communities like Kunja’s to not receive government support. This is due to an ongoing tension between extreme left-wing Naxalite insurgents and the Indian government.
In seeing the devastation that this has caused, the Loyola Integrated Tribal Development Society (LITDS) formed to help indigenous families like Kunja’s. LITDS do this by offering free education. The organisation educates children for up to 10 years on their campus.
A common problem faced by LITDS is that the girls will leave school to get married at an early age. Child marriage is a violation of girls’ human rights. According to Plan International, girls who are married before they are 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to stay in school.
To help prevent child marriages, LITDS offer a two-year nursing course, which helps girls find employment as nurses in hospitals. There are currently 24 girls studying for nursing and five of them are employed as nurses.
LITDS encourages its children to be ambitious and embrace their talents. More than 130 children who would have been subject to child poverty are now continuing their education at university. This year the LITDS students achieved a 100% pass rate in the Indian equivalent to GCSEs. In the case of Kunja, it has also allowed her to embrace her gift for running.
LITDS hope that she can now push onto an international level with Fr Elango SJ commenting that this was only, “possible because of your [Jesuit Missions] constant support to our children… we hope to see many more deserving tribal boys and girls coming out with flying colours and thus lay the foundation for their dignified life. So, we seek your continuous support to encourage these deserving children and help them to live life with confidence”.
Through Jesuit Missions, you can support children like Kunja, and help her to reach her full potential. Donate here.