The Coordinator of the Famvin Homeless Alliance (Mark McGreevy) visited India. The following is one of a short series of reflections on the work the Vincentian Family in India is doing in the field of homelessness and in particular in celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism by involvement in the 13 Houses Campaign. This piece focuses on the work of the Vincentian Congregation and in particular its charitable arm the Vincentian Service Society.
The Vincentian Congregation was founded in 1904 by Fr. Varkey Kattarath with three diocesan priests. From the very beginning it has followed the Common Rules of St. Vincent de Paul and the model of the Congregation of the Mission founded in 1625. As part of its mission of charity, the Vincentian Congregation in India (Marymartha Province) formed the Vincentian Service Society Centre for Rural Development (VSSCRD). Its works are many and varied and you can find out more by visiting www.vinsaonline.org . However for the purposes of this short article we will focus on their plans to contribute to the 13 Houses Campaign in Kerala.
On a very hot day in March 2019 the Director of the VSS Fr Francis Naduviledath VC assisted by his secretary Fr Varghese Perinchery VC accompanied us on a three-hour drive from Cochin to Palakkad where we climbed up into the hills to see the devastation caused by landslides due to the flooding in Kerala during August 2018. Entire houses had literally been swept away as you can see for the photo below.
Working closely with the parish priests in the Palakkad area and the Society of St Vincent De Paul (District President Mr Sunny Matthew) the VSS have identified 15 of the poorest families, representing all faith groups, who they would like to rehouse and ensure that they have sustainable livelihoods moving.
Previous houses had no foundations and were built from mud bricks so this time around they are ensuring deep foundations and steel frames supporting concrete brick structures. You can see the mud brick housing of a deserving family below. Hopefully they will have a new home soon and feel safe from future disasters.
The VSSCRD have a tremendous sense of mission. They are quietly helping thousands of people in poverty. Another demonstration that action speaks much louder than words.
Stay tuned for more stories from India concerning other members of the Vincentian family here in India- the Congregation of the Mission, the SSVP and the Daughters of Charity as well as plans for collaboration and an opportunity for you to help with these efforts in India.
Coordinator Famvin Homeless Alliance