On Sunday, April 10, 2011 morning, Catherine Spalding Center For Women and Children opened its doors to 90 (ages 14–17 years) children domestic workers. These young women were welcomed by Sister Basanti Lakra, SCN, vice provincial, who spoke of Catherine Spalding’s vision for women and how SCNs would like to further that vision through the ministry for women on the margins. Rev. Father Chetan, IMS, then spoke of the collaboration with SCNs, and how this collaboration would be effected over this year through programs and other events of training and education.
The program for these 90 young women centered on their sharing of experiences of their lives, and their desire to move forward and study. Thirteen Sponsors were also present at the event. These sponsors have agreed to accompany these young women financially so that they can complete high school and move on to other occupations instead of being domestic workers — or, for those who wish to be domestic workers — be better equipped with culinary and other skills.
The program for the young women ended at 2:00 PM with a simple lunch. At 2:30 PM the campus was crowded with more than 250 women domestic workers (some with their small children). All participants filled the hall and staff members of The World Diabetes Foundation, Denmark and Dainik Jagran made a slide and film presentation on Gestational Diabetes and its Management in Selected Districts of India. Dr. Kiran, member of the Foundation lectured along with the presentation. Sister Shalini D’Souza, SCN, along with the Chief Guests (Drs. Kiran, and Navina), and two domestic workers, lit the lamp and initiated the prayer. The women participated in the program whole heartedly, asked questions, and entered a lively discussion on the issue. The Denmark Dainik Jagran then awarded gifts from the Foundation for the alertness and interest of the participants. These gifts were presented to the women by SCNs Rekha, Ann Moyalyn, Shobhita, Shalini and Jessie. Sister Jessie, administrator and coordinator and the Nazareth Convent Local Community was in attendance, and mingled with the participants. The presentation ended at 4:30 p.m.
After the Presentation on Gestational Diabetes, Father Chetan announced the that the Bill on the Minimum Wage Act was passed by the Jharkhand State Government. The Women gathered in the hall had participated in the promotion of this Bill over the past several years. Therefore, the news was received with much clapping and joy. This Bill will come into effect on June 1. Women Domestic Workers will be readied over these next two months to promote the contents of the Bill and to take personal action towards its implementation.
The women leaders took over the program and presented five rickshaws to families on a loan basis. Each family will make an appropriate return of monies to cover the expense of the Rickshaw (Rs. 8,000) on a weekly or monthly basis. The return of the monies will then purchase other rickshaws. Scholarships of Rs. 5,000 each were also awarded to one couple — newly married, a woman who had a recent accident, and two women who are beginning small businesses.
The afternoon program ended with a snack and tea at 5:45PM. A big vote of thanks was given to SCNs for the preparation, participation and collaboration of the event.