Irresponsibly regarded by many as the lowest “untouchable” caste, Sisters are working for social justice with the Musahar people.
In their regular village visits, Sisters Cornelia Ekka and Rita Barla assess the needs of people, especially young children. Around 50 Musahar (literal meaning rat-eaters) families are settled in Sainy Tola, under Narsing Gavisa close to Navjyoti, Laukhi, in Nepal.
The Musahar group is one of the most neglected groups in Nepal and for that matter in India too. Economically stifled, the literacy rate is low among them. They live in very small huts and depend on daily wage work for their livelihood.
They generally can’t afford to send their children to school even though parents have the desire to educate their children. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have decided to open a non-formal center for the children and a coaching center for those few who attend the nearby government school.
Musahar live simple lives. Their readiness, positive attitude, and promise to work hard encouraged the Sisters to find a teacher for the children. People of upper castes did not want the Musahar children taught in their village. One family has generously offered their courtyard to have class for the time being.
On Sept. 12, 2016, Sisters officially opened the first center with 40 children. Around 15 parents were also present on the first day.
They began the day with a prayer and lighting of the lamp. Sister Rita welcomed everyone. She introduced the teachers to the students and parents. Teachers explained to the group that the purpose of the program is to educate their young children, not religious conversion.
Sister Cornelia Ekka (right) and Sister Rita Barla with students
Sister Cornelia also encouraged the people saying that the Sisters would like to bring them up through education. She asked them to attend classes regularly without any fear. Parents and children cooperated very well. They are happy to learn and change their lifestyle.
At the end, Sisters Cornelia and Rita distributed sweets which all of them enjoyed. “We were touched by their respect, interest and support. Their joy and interest encourage us to go ahead,” says Sister Rita.