On Sundays the boys are allowed to watch a Malayalam movie, but otherwise television is not allowed; Father Jose considers it a negative influence. He explains that the precise and intense daily schedule is necessary to keep the boys on the straight and narrow.
The boys whom I met seemed sharp and well adjusted, and should benefit society when they mature. Father Jose remains in contact with the boys families when he returns to their villages to celebrate the liturgy. He has also launched development projects in these communities, such as a micro-credit program with which some people have begun small businesses. His grand plan includes some graduates returning to their communities, entrusted with running development projects.
The boys will be a source of positive change for their society: just one boy can change his whole society by setting a good example. When the boys return home during their vacations, they act like little missionaries, setting good examples for the other boys in the neighborhood.
Energetic and intelligent, Father Jose was ordained nine years ago and achieved a postgraduate degree in political science, as well as a diploma in health care and administration, after which he started a rural hospital. He is a very kind and fatherly figure for the boys, whom he obviously cherishes. An older woman, also a Harijan untouchable from the mission community, acts as matron, cook and mother figure for the boys. A feeling of family can be felt throughout the home.
Father Joses ambition is to develop the homes educational facilities further in order to be more in touch with the ways of the modern world. In recent years India has become a center of computer development and that, he feels, is where the future might lie for many of his boys. The boys themselves are very eager to get their hands on a computer. To train them, Father Jose hopes to purchase several new computers. He also sees a future for some of the boys in computer and television repair and electronics in general. Father Joses plans also include more traditional vocational training in such skills as motor mechanics, carpentry and metal work. When funding is secured, these facilities will be set up on the compound.
Pulled from the some of the worst parts of Kerala, the boys at Malankara Boys Home are given a new chance at life with the help of Father Jose and his staff. And the education continues long after their studies are finished: Part of the deal at the home includes a promise that the boys will return to their communities as missionaries of development, thereby spreading the prospect of a brighter future.
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Sean Sprague is a frequent contributor to these pages.
Tags: India Children Education Poor/Poverty Syro-Malankara Catholic Church