Sacred Heart Sisters of Navjyothi Province, Idukki, Kerala, is a fairly new Province of the Sacred Heart order. It is only 16 years old. There are 195 professed sisters in this province. The major activities of the Province are schools, parish activities, medical and counseling. One of the specializations is to treat and work with mentally and psychologically ill and challenged people.
The Sacred Heart religious order is a local missionary religious group begun by Venerable Father Mathew Kadalikkattil some 108 years ago in the South Indian State of Kerala, India. There are about 2300 sisters working in 11 provinces mainly in Kerala and in a few other states of India and Germany.
The sisters organize a few special programs for the children. One among them is called the Navjyothi (New Light) Education and Balbhavan (House of Children) program. The program creates opportunities for children from mentally, psychologically, and financially backward families to have complete guided education and needed formation. Their material, psychological, physical, and spiritual needs are fully looked after by this program creating an atmosphere where they can grow into responsible, mature individuals.
Navjyothi Education is the first part of this program. As part of this program, sisters visit families regularly and deserving children are brought to the facility. They are provided study materials like school bags, textbooks, uniforms, and other needed accessories. They are given special coaching, tuition, and a midday meal. Valuable educational programs, therapy, and counseling are organized for parents. These families are often reached out through the referrals of the Pastor, teachers, or sometimes parishioners.
The second part of the program is called the Balbhavan program. It is meant for children from completely broken families due to alcohol, drug addiction, abusive, mental and psychologically ill, and sometimes separated parents. These children go through a lot of physical and psychological trauma. Children from these families are given hostel facilities run by the sisters. They are provided schooling often run by the Parish or the Diocese. They are given all the necessities for schooling like textbooks, school bags, uniforms, and other needed items. The weak are given special assistance with tuition and coaching during the after-hours. Special help is given to those that need psychological treatment. A psychologist is made available three days a week. Special camps are organized occasionally for skill development and orientation.
Another program by the sisters is to Care for the HIV Positive and Cerebral Palsy Children. HIV-positive children carry a taboo on them. They are not easily accepted in society and in most schools. This program gives the opportunity to be normal and be like normal children. Besides school materials, they are also given very careful psychological and personality development programs. They are taught about the risk of transmitting disease and the way to live a normal life.
The sisters provide 24/7 care for 15 children suffering from cerebral palsy. These children are not able to live in their own family neither are the families able to give them proper medical and hygienic care. There are four sisters attending this ministry.
The number of beneficiaries from these programs is:
Navjyothi Education and Balbhavan Program – 180 children in four facilities/centers
HIV Students – 35 at one center
Cerebral Palsy – 15 at one center
I remember one of the sisters sharing the story of Rani a little girl suffering from HIV. She had lost her parents while she was very little. Her only relative and family was her grandfather. She visited him periodically. Once after returning from her visit she came to this sister and told her that her grandfather died. She did not have anyone to call her own anymore. The sisters become everything to these children. They become their family.
The pandemic played great havoc on the ministry of the sisters. The children of the Navjyothi program have not received the needed attention because of the lockdowns and other restrictions. The Children from the Balbhavan program are attending the online programs staying at the centers. It has been a great task and risk to keep these children protected during these times. The same situation applies to HIV and Cerebral Palsy Children. It has been really difficult to provide for them as well.
I request everyone to remember these sisters in their mission and ministry, especially with these children. Every help that we can make will assist the sisters in taking care and providing for these unfortunate ones. Be assured of their prayers for you.
To support the SACRED HEART NVJOTHI PROVINCE, please click on the button below to donate and either select your parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and/or type Group 2174 in the memo box. God bless!