In India, the level of economic development of its 25 states and 7 territories is as diverse as their religions, ethnicities, and languages. The state of Odissa (Eastern India) belongs to the poorest states in India, which are home to more than half of the country's population.
Installed in Gunupur as part of their missions, the Daughters of Charity work with the abandoned population of the town and its surrounding villages. They assist not only poor, elderly, or disabled people, but also orphaned children as well as women who are discriminated and abused because of their gender.
These people are poor and marginalized. They work as day labourers and migrate to different cities in search of their daily bread. 80% of the population lives in the mountains and their main activity is agriculture.
High unemployment and indebtedness keep them in extreme precariousness and ignorance. These people are neither able to support their children by sending them to school nor are they able to maintain their health.
The lack of clean water (unhygienic toilets, bathing in ponds, rivers, fountains, and reservoirs), and poor conditions concerning hygiene and cooking exacerbate disease. Intestinal problems, diarrhoea, malaria, skin diseases, colds and coughs, tuberculosis, sickle cell, loss of sight, are only some of the diseases that affect the most fragile populations, especially children.
Since their installation, the Daughters of Charity of Gunupur have been trying to provide them with medical help through health centres such as dispensaries or mobile clinics. They have to cross towns on foot or by public transport on a regular basis to reach a hospital and sometimes, when there is an urgent need, they also have to take the children from remote villages to the hospital because the public transport is not available.
In the boarding school they have built, the Daughters of Charity also accommodate poor and illiterate children who, living in rural areas, are less likely to be able to go to school, in particular:
"Thanks to our presence, many of our children now come from very remote villages, which is why we offer them a home, especially the girls. During the holidays, they go back to their villages. There are many other schools in our district, but education is very poor or school fees are too high".
The sisters travel miles to help these families and young children and students, which is why they have inherited the nickname "The 4x4 Sisters".
At present they use an old vehicle donated by the sisters of a neighbouring community, and although it allows them to travel hundreds of kilometres a day, it is frequently in need of expensive repairs.
Given the current law on transport vehicles "Odisha 2019", it is also very difficult to obtain driving licences, and to obtain a certificate of non-pollution for old vehicles.
The acquisition of a vehicle becomes urgent
"That's why I was advised to get a new one, which is very necessary for our community. Our vehicle is used whenever children at school have needs and emergencies, to take sick children to the hospital, and pupils and students to their accommodation, to visit the families we support or to go to government offices. Sometimes we have to take the children back to their village when they have a contagious disease so that the other children do not come into contact with their disease. We are often obliged to rent a vehicle. But this is expensive for us and limits our interventions. The school fees paid by parents and the subsidies we receive barely allow us to pay staff salaries, repairs and maintenance, especially water and electricity, toiletries, first aid, property tax, water tax, legal assistance and other bills.
We can't afford to get a new vehicle on our own."
This inclusive mobility project is destined to the marginalized populations around Gunupur (within a radius of more than 50km around the city).
"Our students come from very poor Sora tribal families who do not have access to basic education in their surrounding area. This is why we make it easier for them to stay in the so-called foyer by offering them food and accommodation for a minimum charge. When they are ill, we take them to the hospital for treatment and in case of serious illness or emergency, we pick them up by car because the villages are very remote and located on the top of the mountains.
With this vehicle, geographical remoteness will no longer be an obstacle for these villagers to have access to health and education
A very big THANK YOU for your support!
I am Sr. Victoria from the Marillac Niketan Community. It is in the foyer in the center of the city of Gunupur that all the people we welcome live and benefit directly or indirectly from our presence. 5 of my sisters and I have the mission to welcome and take care of the education of a growing number of students since 2011.