In South Asia we have a number of long term projects in India. These projects often focus on indigenous people who face persecution and poverty as well as engaging with initiatives which empower women.
More recently we have been engaging in an advocacy campaign concerning the unjust imprisonment of 84-year-old Jesuit and human rights defender Fr Stan Swamy. Find out more about our campaign to release Fr Stan.
Here are two examples of projects we currently support in this region.
Working with Lok Manch on environmental activism.
We are currently partnered with Lok Manch. They are working to protect India’s environment and the most vulnerable people affected by climate change. Lok Manch do this through advocating for land rights for the Adivasi community, India’s indigenous people. They have traditionally settled in forests and are now the government’s scapegoats for environmental degradation. The Adivasi people often lose their land to mining companies who are destroying the planet and making many of the Adivasi community homeless while doing so.
During 2020, Lok Manch was able to secure protected forest status for 657 villages, training the communities in water conservation, environmentally friendly farming methods, and tree planting. In the Delhi metropolitan area, which is home to more than 30 million people, Lok Manch is involved in improving the water and waste management systems for people to access clean drinking water (WASH).
Lok Manch also advocates for safe and sustainable fishing in Kerala, which has been the subject of memorandums to top political figures including the state’s chief minister, and a policy brief produced by the University of Sussex. On this front, Lok Manch partners with the Adivasis Development Initiative in Kerala to combat sea erosion and promote sustainable fishing techniques.
Jesuit Missions has been working with Lok Manch since 2016 to make people aware of their entitlements and help protect the environment.
Educational Success for Displaced Tribal Children in Southern India
The Loyola Integrated Tribal Development Society (LITDS), has been active for almost thirty years in forest region of Andhra Pradesh, Southern India. They are supporting their provision of education to internally displaced tribal children who are victims of armed struggle between extreme left-wing Naxalite insurgents and the police.
LITDS teaches all 244 children on its campus reading, writing, and basic arithmetic skills as well as value-oriented education on hard work, service to others, love for the nation, and gratitude. The tenth standard exam in India (equivalent to GCSEs) is one of the biggest exams in the world, with over two million students taking it each year. This year LIDS students passed with 100% pass rate. The headmaster of the school, Father Elango SJ told us, “they all with one voice agree that it is because of your support and the presence of this school in this interior forest, that they had a chance to study and complete their tenth standard successfully.”
LITDS educates children for up to 10 years on their campus, but some of the girls will leave get married at an early age. In order to prevent child marriages, LITDS offers two years of nursing courses, which helps the girls to find employment as nurses in hospitals. There are currently 24 girls studying for nursing and five of them are employed as nurses.
The campus also provides nutritious food to the children from the interior forest who were deprived of nutrition in their early infancy and entered the school with deficiencies. Father Elango SJ explains: “Once these little ones enter our campus we are happy to see them healthy and strong because of the nutritious food like rice, dal, and variety of grains that we continue to provide them every day… Children are very happy in the campus due to the variety of food items that we provide them with.”
Fr Elango told us of his gratitude for the support they have received, “I assure you that this help of yours will build self-confidence among the children and gain knowledge by studying in order to live a dignified life.” On behalf of Father Elango SJ and the children of LITDS, we would like to thank all of our supporters whole heartedly for your generosity.