Partnering the Palani Mission in Tamil Nadu, India
The Palani Mission is in a remote part of the southern province of India called Tamil Nadu and belongs to the St Thomas Evangelical Churches of India. The Palani Mission has two objectives: firstly, to provide religious teaching based upon the life and work of Jesus and, secondly, to relieve the poverty and suffering of the poor. In the case of the latter it is very much a charity, providing shelter, food and clothing, the very basics of life.
In the province today Christians are tolerated by the Indian Hindu majority, but often they are restricted to the lower caste orders, with few work opportunities. They often suffer discrimination and abuse, and remain as outcasts on the edge of communities. To many the Palani Mission represents hope, and with its open generosity provides a welcoming place to shelter. Reverend John Abraham and his wife Sheeba devote their lives to tending the needs of the congregation.
Our partnership with the Mission was initially based upon the funding of two young women to train as midwives at the Mission Hospital. These midwives are now qualified and employed by the hospital. The two community nurses whom we are currently funding will join them at the end of their training.
In August 2018 our minister, Revd Ruth Dillon, accompanied by others from our congregation, visited the Mission and met with Revd John Abraham, his wife Sheeba, and others involved with the Mission. During this visit they commissioned projects to enable some of the families to be self-sufficient. A tailoring and dressmaking school was set up and goats were purchased so that, under the watchful eye of a local shepherd, families can milk them and breed from them.
A further visit is planned for October 2019, and a ‘Friends of Palani‘ support group has been set up which meets regularly to oversee the church’s involvement in India.
This is a long term partnership, enabling the churches in Fleet and Palani to develop a closer relationship, whilst improving significantly the quality of life, spreading the Good News of Jesus, and helping alleviate poverty within the local community of Palani.
A relationship with a Kerala orphanage for disabled people of all ages has also been founded, and we have provided some clothing for the older children, and also rice. We are seeking the help and advice of the Catholic Sisters of Mercy who run the orphanage to find out how best we can support them.