12/23/2004, 00.00
BANGLADESH

Christmas in the orphanage or how the joy of the season meets hope for the future

Sreete and another 140 girls will celebrate Christmas in an orphanage surrounded by the affection and love of nuns who care for them every day. In many, a vocation for the religious life is born.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/UCAN) – Sreete Dio lives in Bottomley Home, an orphanage in Dhaka run by the nuns of the Associates of Mary, Queen of Apostles order. She is 12-year-old, from the Garo, a matriarchal tribe living in a region north-east of Dhaka, and looking forward to Christmas with joy and hope. She found in the orphanage a family and says she is happy because in this festive season she will receive "wonderful gifts".

It is her third Christmas at the orphanage, now all decked out for the occasion. She and the other residents have been preparing for December 25 by practicing Christmas carols and attending daily novena in the nearby Tejgaon Church.

"This place has all kinds of arrangements to enjoy Christmas because the sisters take a lot of care," Dio said enthusiastically.  "This year, they bought two sets of new clothes for each child. »

On Christmas Day, she and her fellow orphans will take an active part in the mass in the parish church.

Although the sisters' affection and love fulfill Dio's need for affection, she misses her 13-year-old brother Achinto who now is in grade seven at a Catholic parish-run school and hostel in her native Srimangal village. Their mother died from an unknown disease three months after Dio was born and Achinto is the only relative she knows.

American Holy Cross Father Frank J. Quinlivan, the Srimangal pastor, is the girl's guardian. It was he who brought her to the orphanage after she completed kindergarten and first grade at the parish school in Srimangal.

From life in the orphanage a vocation for the consecrated life has blossomed and Dio wants to "become a nun, [so] I could serve other orphans in this orphanage".

For this reason she is dedicated in her studies—Bengali, English, mathematics, general science, moral science and religion—and wants to complete her education in the orphanage and then take her vows.

Sister Rozario, who cares for the children at Bottomley, says that many children celebrate Christmas at the House even though they have "at least a mother or a father".

Since the end of the Second World War it has become a true home for thousands of children in the Indian subcontinent who have lost their parents. Here, they have found hospitality and help. From within its walls, many vocations have blossomed.

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