Brundall church teenagers serve India’s poor
A group of five teenagers from St Laurence Church Brundall are having a life-changing experience working with impoverished people in Southern India. The group led by Revd. Peter Leech, Rector of Yare Valley Churches is currently immersed in the amazing work of the Vidiyal Trust.
The Trust is headed by Revd. Canon Pat Atkinson MBE, a trained nurse and Brundall resident. It is a hands- on charity which has built and owns a Boys’ Home, Girls’ Home and Tuition Centre for over 100 children in Mavelikara, North Kerala. The Trust also has a training and development link with the main Regional Cancer Centre in Kerala funding two ambulances to run clinics and to take palliative care to cancer patients who are too poor or weak to reach hospital.
In Madurai, Tamil Nadu The Trust has a residential care home for elderly street ladies, and also runs a lunch and care unit in a slum which cares for over 50 elders daily. In the same slum there is a tuition and care centre attended by 150 children. Nineteen people in a nearby leprosy compound are also cared for by The Vidiyal Trust.
The Norfolk visitors attended the grand opening of a new house for the elderly ladies which will be a permanent residence that they can call home. The teenagers will not forget the sheer happiness shown by the ladies when Pat told them that the new centre was for them; the young people actually decorated the house for the residents. Sam Varley (15) said “Frankly just seeing their faces lit up beaming with joy means the world to me as I can see that we are making a difference however small. To be honest, I can't explain in words how much that this trip has made a difference to my life and to me as a person.”
When the group visited the slums, the tables were turned on Revd. Peter Leech, who was asked by the slum guru if he would allow him to bless him. Peter Leech commented “I was invited into his home where he spoke words of blessing over me, anointed my head with ash and placed ash in my hand as symbol or promise of safe travel. At that point, religious, social and cultural differences melted away and suddenly I was at the receiving end of blessing. From this man, who materially had so little, I was able to receive so much. The very people we had come to be a blessing to, were offering me the most amazing gift that no money would be able to buy.”
The Norfolk group has been in India for two weeks and is due to return to the UK on August 5. No doubt when back at school the teenagers will be keen to share their life-changing experiences with their friends.
The pictures show Joel Charig being well received at the Boys' home, Revd Canon Pat Atkinson greeting a happy family recently released from bonded labour, and Revd Peter Leech receiving waiter training at the daily lunch club.