MAE HONG SON - THAILAND
AN UNEXPECTED EVENT
It was a long time since we desired to visit the Burmese people who, due to conflicts between some ethnic groups and the government, have to live in the Refugee Camp at Naisoi in Mae Hong Son, Thailand. We knew that on 8 September, the feast of the nativity of Mary, the refugees celebrate a big feast in her honour, and so, two weeks in advance, we approached the District Officer and the COERR Organization (Catholic Office for Emergency Relief for Refugees) to get the permission to visit the camp, but it was hopeless. Hoping against hope, we met with Fr Dominic, a Burmese priest, who goes to the camp daily for his pastoral ministry. He told us to get the useful permissions, even though we were late, as we were supposed apply for it 2 months before our visit. In the meantime he asked us to pray.
On 7 September, in the evening, we got the news that our request was granted, therefore, our joy had no limits.
The next day, we started our journey at 6.00 a.m. along with Fr Dominic.
The road was full of puddles as it was rainy season. We reached the camp at 7.30 a.m. We saw many people coming in procession, carrying the statue of Mother Mary and singing hymns accompanied by their traditional musical instruments. At 8.30 a.m. two Burmese priests celebrated Holy Mass in the open ground.
A great crowd gathered and prayed with great devotion, kneeling down, though the ground was wet due to heavy downpours.
After breakfast, we visited the camp where 10,000 people are living. The houses and the offices are with thatched roofs in order to keep up the characteristics of their country. There are 10 schools, from Nursery to High school. The church «Queen of Peace» is situated on the top of a hill where 50 catholic families live. The leader of the church and some of the faithful were waiting for us. They talked to us and informed us about the several active groups in their church, then they offered us their traditional wine and Kaotom math made of rice. We were deeply touched by their faith in God and their simplicity of life: we hope that they may be able to return back in their Country and live in peace and in freedom. When we returned back home, we thanked God for this special opportunity and prayed for all the persons in need.
MANIKANDAM - SOUTH-EAST INDIA PROVINCE
A PLEA FOR PRAYER
Yes, a plea for prayer comes to you from India. This urgent need has arisen from the recent proceedings of the Indian Government with regard to the new National Education Policy. Externally, the suggestions proclaim sincere efforts to infuse quality in education with a holistic sense and to root out corruption in the educational sector, in reality they do not penetrate into what is articulated as a policy or action plan in the document. To mention a few, it goes against secularism which is one of the back bones of the Indian Constitution. It proposes a ‘Vedic’ system of education which is basic of Hindu religion and thus betrays the pluralistic culture of India.
It also portrays the ‘Gurukul’ system of education which is nothing but a promotion of caste-based education system. It is centered around one man as Guru (master - disciple model), denying access to other sources of knowledge as library, research, experimentation, modern pedagogy of dialogical learning. The policy tries to propagate a defective perspective on Indian languages by categorically stating ‘Sanskrit’, a dead language by now, as the language of education.
It is more in the interest of the ideology of Hindu Nation and an effort to establish the Brahminical hegemony. Finally the introduction of compulsory ‘Yoga’ which is rooted in Hindu religion and philosophy and making it a «condition for recognition of the educational institution» is an expression of imposition and highhandedness.
In a country of multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual reality, this effort of the Draft policy runs contrary to the secular ethos of the constitution. Therefore Indian Church in particular the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ conference has given a clarion call to denounce such a policy by organizing rallies and presenting memorandum to the government. July 31st witnessed a state wide protest against the same participated by all the Christian minority schools.
These efforts are in view of expressing our opposition to such fanatic movements that threaten the growth of minorities and in the long run bury the esteemed heritage of this Nation that is known for its religious tolerance. That’s why we urge you to join us through your prayers to combat these selfish moves that challenge us.
... CONTINUATION OF THE RICONSTRUCTION ...
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