ASIA/INDIA - The work of the Jesuit Catholic network: Pastoral care and care for migrants

Thursday, 4 August 2022 migrants   human rights  

Ranchi (Agenzia Fides) - Priests, nuns and laity of the local Church in the Indian state of Jharkhand are committed to promoting human rights, working as social workers, lawyers and pastoral agents in the care of migrants. Their commitment is carried out in the organization "Migrant Help and Information Network" (MAIN), an initiative launched by the Indian Jesuits and shared with the entire Catholic community, across the nation. "Migration and human trafficking in India are a constant challenge, which has worsened especially during the pandemic", Sister Manjula Bara, a religious of the Handmaids of Mary, told Fides. "Migration is a huge problem in the country. Migrants need everyone's support", confirms Sister Bara. "On the basis of the evangelical approach of respect for human dignity, we try to give a coordinated, collective and innovative response to reach the people concerned and give them pastoral care from the Church", she says.
MAIN members promote youth networks across India by coordinating with communities, NGOs, networks, religious congregations, dioceses, public and private organizations, volunteers, schools and supporters all over the country. As Fides learned, the work is giving huge positive results in assistance, development and attention to migrants. "We hope to promote the quality of life for immigrants so that they can be happy. The model is a collaborative and networking effort. Contributions from individuals and organizations are properly recognized in MAIN's work, migrants and community leaders are valuable partners in this initiative", explained Sister Bara.
"Working at MAIN is an opportunity to better understand and take care of our brothers and sisters in need, who have emigrated in search of better living conditions in different cities", she says. A special seminar was recently organized in Ranchi, Jharkhand state, to reinforce MAIN's presence also in the states of origin of migration, with the aim of creating associations in the provinces and states of origin of migrants. This makes it possible to more effectively address the challenges associated with the presence of migrants and distance them from the criminal networks that exploit them, especially involving the most vulnerable, such as women and children, in human trafficking. India has been a popular destination for immigrants for centuries: with almost 4.9 million immigrants in 2020, it is the 14th country of destination globally, although immigrants represent less than 0.4% of its 1.4 billion inhabitants.
Most of the immigrants to India now come from neighboring countries in South Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and then China and Myanmar), due to strong economic and personal ties established during colonial times. Many immigrants live in commercial and agricultural cities and contribute to the huge urbanization of contemporary India. (SD/PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/8/2022)