Card Gracias’s campaign against hunger and disease serving children
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Archbishop of Mumbai wants his message to reach every parish. The archdiocese’s social work office is coordinating projects aimed at child and youth mental and vocational development. About 1,400 minors, including some disabled, are involved in 127 groups.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), has launched the 2019 Advent campaign against hunger and disease. This year's theme is “Serving the best interest of children”.

The cardinal wants his message to reach every parish in his archdiocese. In it, he appeals to youth, urging them to give up something during this Advent season and save some of their pocket money to contribute to this cause.

In his message, the prelate also blesses the campaign undertaken by the Centre for Social Action (CSA), the archdiocese’s social work office, urging the faithful “to continue our tradition of generosity and concern for the poor.”

The CSA is coordinating 127 children 's parliaments involving 1,400 children, a project supported by UNICEF in order to teach children to take up issues of development in their neighbourhood and ensure that the rights of children are not violated.

Speaking to AsiaNews, CSA director Fr Mario Mendes said that “Children from a village or institution are brought together to form a Bal Sabha (a children’s parliament). These are inclusive of all socio-cultural groups, as well as those differently abled. They are sensitised about their rights through various play-way activities.”

According to the clergyman, such activities enable “the children to develop their leadership skills by taking small initiatives to improve the situation around them, thereby developing the community and making active citizenship a reality.”

Lastly, Card Gracias notes that the CSA coordinates “supplementary classes for children, vocational skill development and job placement for youth, financial literacy programmes, and training for traditional and alternate livelihoods with marketing support for their produce. Enhancing livelihoods reduces migration to the cities, enhances the quality of life for women, and enables the education of children.