Friday, February 21, 2014

Folk Remedies of Tribals

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Sr Lissy Vedruna sister at Unai
Daksha Gamit sits among a group of other women around a silver dish, peeling Indian asparagus in the country's Western state of Gujarat.

Married with two teenage children, Gamit will later add the vegetable to a mixture of seeds and sprouts, place them in a carafe and sit the concoction in the sun to ferment.

The brown juice that results – rich in vitamin D and plant hormones – is used to treat eye diseases and infertility.

Among the Adivasi tribe to which Gamit belongs – Adivasis are among India’s first inhabitants – these folk remedies have been produced for centuries.

And for nine years, Gamit has traveled 20 kms once a week from her home village to the town of Unai, where she works at a herbal medicine shop and health clinic run by the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of Charity Vedruna.

Sister Lissy of the Congregation has spent several years studying traditional Adivasi medicine, and in 2003 she began to put her knowledge to use.

She cultivated aloe vera plants and used the viscous juice of the plants’ leaves to stimulate the production of red blood cells. After three months of applications on herself, she saw in tests that red blood cell production increased.

Aloe vera has now become an effective remedy for sickle cell anemia, a hereditary disease that is prominent among Adivasis. The ailment destroys the natural shape of red blood cells and can cause complications that have a high mortality rate.

“If patients start on time to take aloe vera, which stimulates blood production, individuals can live with the disease,” says Sister Lissy.

In addition to helping cure illness, the herbal medicine shop and clinic has become a vital source of income for many in the local Adivasi community.

The facility employs four full-time women and 28 part-time staff, all of whom earn 150 rupees (US$2.50) per day.

“The income helps my family,” says Gamit. "Besides, it is nice work, and I often take products back to my village. Our hair oil, for example, is very popular. It cools the head while working in the fields.”

In the years since she first started, Sister Lissy has added a diverse number of products to her inventory. She’s particularly proud of her wheatgrass juice, which helps wounds heal faster, she says.

Pineshkumar Gamit, a farmer from Dharampuri village, is a case in point. He was spared an expensive hospital visit that would have ruined him financially.

He sustained a small ankle injury that got infected and quickly progressed to a large proliferating wound. After 27 days of treatment by Sister Lissy, using concentrated wheatgrass juice, the wound finally closed – at a cost of only 700 rupees. At a hospital, the bill would have been several thousand rupees.

Sister Lissy has also set up workshops to pass on her knowledge – not only to local villagers but also to doctors from private hospitals.

The increasingly popular herbalist learned many of her recipes from old Adivasi women.

“The tradition of the Adivasi contains precious knowledge about the effects of many plants,” says Sister Lissy. “But because they pass on their knowledge orally, there is a great risk that this treasured knowledge could be lost.”

In an effort to help keep these traditions alive, the nun has encouraged families to plant and cultivate the medicinal herbs long familiar to their ancestors. Aloe vera plants are even offered for sale at the Congregations clinic for 10 rupees each.

Sister Lissy’s foray into traditional herbal remedies – in addition to being an effort to preserve Adivasi heritage and help those with few resources to afford expensive hospital visits – is a highly personal one.

At the age of 30, the nun fell ill with the virulent falciparum malaria. After delays in treatment, she was required to take a heavy regimen of medications that left her diabetic.

“At that time, I thought to myself that there must be yet another way of treatment,” she says.

She began experimenting with aloe vera treatment, and that led to her study of traditional Adivasi herbal medicine and her work with the local community to educate about these ancient and effective remedies.

“We are all part of nature, so we should try to treat our illnesses with the resources of nature.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Media Seminar on “Social Media for Mission Outreach” - SIGNIS Feb 2014

The whole group at the Seminar 

Media Seminar on “Social Media for Mission Outreach”
SIGNIS, Western region organised a workshop for the youth on Social Media for Mission Outreach, on Sunday, February 9th. It was decided by the members of SIGNIS Western Region to offer a seminar to youth on relevant and recent topic affecting their lives. Since we live in the world of rapid changes and instant updates about practically everything, the natural choice was a topic related to the use of Social Media.
Around 70 youth from Gujarat, Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Goa and Vasai took part in the daylong seminar at St. Paul’s, Bandra, Mumbai.
They all enthusiastically engaged in all the discussions and activities related to the topic. The seminar began with a prayer dance by Sr. Selviya. A welcome note by Fr. Ashok Vaghela, the president of SIGNIS Western Region, made the gathered youth very comfortable to the seminar environment. The keynote address was given by Fr. Cleophas Braganza, who with the use of power-point presentations explained to us of using the Social Media for Mission particularly for the social change. He elaborated the topic with a lot of examples and detailed analysis of the use of Social Media and its positive effects for any social change. He told the gathered youth to pay attention on three important questions we need to ask ourselves while sharing a message.
 1. What are we trying to convey?
2. Whom do we want to reach?
3. How shall we reach to them?
Fr. Braganza repeatedly made the youth aware that having the latest gadgets does not make things possible for better communication. He invited all to constantly ask a question i.e.
“Why should I do this?” to oneself for better partaking in the new environment of Social Media. The question and answer session clarified a lot of queries by the participants.
After a break the group once again met for the panel discussion. The main speakers in the panel discussion were
1. Kevin Jayraj, an ad designer who has started a company, Point of view (POV).
 2. Richard D’Souza, a social worker serving in Jharkhand.
3. Mayola, a teacher and mother of two teenage girls.
4. Brinston Carvalho who has pioneered in serving the parish by creating an Android application, ‘Orland Connect’. Each of the speakers shared with the group their success stories. The discussion with the group was very interesting. A lot of interaction took place.
At the end of the seminar the group gathered to thank God in the Eucharistic celebration. Fr. Olavo Caiado in his interesting homily invited us to be a communicator of love and thus, to reach Christ even to them, who are not aware of the name of Jesus.
After the mass all gathered for delicious lunch. The entire group left the venue filled with a lot of joy and knowledge in Social Media.

Sr. Hilda Braganza, the secretary of SIGNIS Western Region and Sr. Joeyanna D’Souza along with Fr. Alex Paul had looked after the entire arrangements of the seminar and saw the entire execution with the help of youth from Mumbai.

Fr John Khanna Goes Home to his Father

Fr . John Khanna (GUJ) 74/54 expired on 09 Feb 2014 at 10.30 p.m in Pilar Hospital,Baroda.
The funeral will be held at  4.00 p.m  in  St.Joseph's Baroda on 10  ( Monday)Feb 2014.
Please remember him in your prayers.
Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj SJ

 Fr John Khanna 
Birth: 22-06-1940Entrance to SJ: 20-06-1960, Priesthood:24-03-1971, Last Vows: 14-11-1976, Death:09 Feb 2014.

Fr Khanna John did wonderfully well in handling variety of ministries ranging from being an Assistant Parish Priest to Province Consultor. He had held very many responsible posts such as Superior, Minister, School Manager, Province consultor and  Coordinator for Youth Ministry.  

John started his priestly life as an assistant parish priest in Khambhat. There he teamed up with the Behavioural Science Centre in conscientising the Dalit Christians against the exploitation and oppression by Darbars.  It was a painful but at the same time, consoling and an eye opening experience for John. From Khambhat, John moved to Vadodara St Joseph’s as a Parish Priest. The years at Vadodara were perhaps the most fulfilling years in John’s life as priest. He had clear pastoral vision. He wanted to make St Joseph’s a vibrant Christian community. Through patient and painstaking efforts, John succeeded in building the parish community, in getting the parishioners involved and committed to the parish and in forming perhaps the first parish pastoral council of the diocese in Gujarat.

John was gifted with a charming personality  very human, open, friendly, people oriented, caring, sincere and authentic. John was also witty and had many jokes to entertain his companions and friends. He was a transparent person and spoke out truth boldly. He was very creative and innovative in his ministry.  

John was an authentic and loyal Jesuit; he cherished his Jesuit vocation and enjoyed the companionship of other Jesuits in the Province. He had been a good community man, helped to bring people together and fostered community spirit.

John suffered from many serious health problems – high BP, weakened heart, kidney failure etc.  One young man asked him: “Father, how is that you got so many health complications?” John answered: ‘All do not get these blessings; only some chosen ones. I am the chosen one; Jesus and Mother Mary do take care of me through so many of my friends.’ John was a man of deep faith. He had accepted his many health problems in a very edifying way. He had learnt to gracefully hand over himself to the providence of God.

Ignatian ideals “Magis, Purity of  Intention and Union of hearts and mind” were very dear to him. He said often ‘these ideals make even greater sense today in his sickness and in his retirement”.  The sickness was a mysterious gift of God which he realized and often publicly acknowledged. He used to pray for the province during the time of dialysis twice a week for the last several years. He was never crippled down by his sickness. However the cross that he was carrying for the last four years became heavier day by day. Nevertheless, he took up his cross and followed Jesus patiently. Finally, he heard the call of his Creator; "Well done, you good and faithful servant!.. Come on in and share my happiness!"
Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj s.j

Responsibilities Held;
Asst PP at Khambhat :1972-1975
Behavioural Science centre, Ahmadabad: 1976-1979
Parish Priest & Superior at St.Joseph’s Baroda: 1979-1991
PP at Khambhat: 1991-1993
Consultor to the Provincial: 1992-1995
Minister at Premal Jyoti, Ahmedabad:1993-1994
PP at Vadtal: 1994-1995
Ashadeep Coordinator, Vidyanagar: 1996-1997
Asst PP at Bhiloda:1997-1998
PP and Superior at Vyara: 1998-2001
Minister cum Superior at Nagara, Khambhat: 2002-2007
PP at Matar: 2007-2008
Asst PP and Counselor at St.Joseph’s, Baroda: 2009-2012
Infirmary, Baroda:2012- 2013

With best wishes and in Union of Prayers,
Socius- Gujarat Province
Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Best poem


I was shocked
, confused, bewildered 
As I entered Heaven's door, 
Not by the beauty of it all, 
Nor the lights or its decor. 

But it was the folks in Heaven 
Who made me sputter and gasp-- 
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash. 

There stood the kid from seventh grade 
Who swiped my lunch money twice. 
Next to him was my old neighbor 
Who never said anything nice. 

Bob, who I always thought 
Was rotting away in hell, 
Was sitting pretty on cloud
Looking incredibly well. 

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal? 
I would love to hear Your take. 
How'd all these sinners get up here? 
God must've made a mistake. 

'And why is everyone so quiet, 
So somber - give me a clue.' 
'Hush, child,' He said,
'they're all in shock. 
No one thought they'd be seeing you..' 


Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a 
Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST... 
Every sinner has a FUTURE!

Now it's your turn... Share this poem.
Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil...It has no point!

"I would rather live my life as if there is a God,
and die to find out there isn't, 
Than to live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is."

commemoration of Vatican's communication document

Bishop Chacko Thottumarikal, chairman of Indian bishops' commission for Social Communications, has opened the national year-long celebrations to commemorate the path-breaking document of Second Vatican Council on media and communications, Inter Mirifica.

The program, which included a seminar, was opened at Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra in Indore on Feb.1. 

The year-long program called "Inter Mirifica Year 2014" aims to revitalise the Indian Church's communication ministry. The event is comprised of various programmes on intellectual, cultural and creative planes, a press release said.

The celebrations are desinged to help the Indian Church, especially those involved in the media to “take to heart the spirit of the document” for a productive communications ministry, said Dr Joby Kavungal CRJ, the national organiser of the celebrations.

Father Kavungal and Fr Jose Vallikatt facilitated the seminar for group of people in media misssion. Similar programmes are planned at national and regional levels. They include celebrating World Communication Day, International media conference, National media cultural fest and national media competitions.

Inter Mirifica sought the active engagement and full participation by the Catholic Church in the field of media and communications. The document not only served as a guideline for communications but also became the foundation for the subsequent documents on media and communications in the Church.

“Catholics needs to involve more deeply in to media and communication ministry,” said Bisho Thottumarikkal said while opening the celebrations. 

He said the year 2014 is the jubilee year of the document, which gave preliminary orientations and impetus to the Catholic communication ministry.

He said the CBCI meeting 10 years ago deliberated about media and communication with the theme “Towards a communicating church.” Communication is Church's mission. Modern systems of communication such as Internet offer great opportunity to reach the message of Jesus to the whole world, he noted.

Religious sisters, and priests of the Diocese of Indore had dedicated this day for thinking about their missionary role and responsibility to harness social media’s potentials for evangelisation.