Nearing the End

I am now towards the end of my time in India. I have been an the village of Talasari for 4 weeks living with the Jesuits. Recently there have been many holidays celebrated in the community from Indian independence day to a Warli cultural holiday. Through these holidays I have been able to learn even more of the lives and culture of the people in this village and about India in general. One recent holiday was a celebration of the relationship between brothers and sisters. During this ceremony that takes place in the houses of each family, the sister stands in front of brother with a candle, a bracelet, and paint. After performing some ceremonial gestures with the candle, the sister wraps the bracelet around her brother’s wrist and makes a marking with the paint on her brother’s forehead. The brother then gives his sister a gift and makes the verbal promise to always protect his sister from any harm. I was fortunate enough to be invited a family’s home to watch this ceremony take place, and also have it performed for me as well. This was a very special experience that I will never forget. In terms of my work in the schools with the Jesuits, something new I have come to understand is the difficulties the Jesuits face in running their schools on account of government interference. The Jesuits are constantly battling the Indian government over the schools they run. The reason for this is that the government does not want the Jesuit run schools to out perform or have better facilities than the government run schools. As a result the Jesuits are unable to accept large donations to improve the schools, they are unable to have the teachers they want unless they are willing to pay them themselves, and they are not allowed to teach anything about God in the classrooms. We’ve had many discussions at dinner talking over these issues and I’ve gotten to see the passion these Jesuits have for the kids they serve. All this has really inspired me to fight for education around the world and here at home to ensure that every child gets the best possible education regardless of where they live.

-Ricky Matthews

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