Church in Andhra Pradesh leads fishermen back to the sea
Machilipatnam (AsiaNews/SAR) The Catholic Church in Andhra Pradesh (south-eastern India) has led tsunami-affected fishermen back to the sea. In handing over new fishing boats and nets, the Social Service Centre (SSC) of the diocese Vijayawada brought to a close the second phase in its relief efforts to help the fishing community of Machilipatnam.
The Bishop of Vijayawada, Mgr Prakash Mallavarapu, expressed his satisfaction with the work undertaken by local parish priests, especially their commitment to children's education.
Although the Church in the state of Andhra Pradesh is made up largely of poor people, this has not prevented many from performing acts of solidarity towards the victims of the tsunami that struck south-east Asia on December 26. For instance, two Jesuit priests, Father Kishore and Father Selvin of the Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada, organised nearly 700 students to built bunds near the sea. Bunds are embankments used especially in India to control the flow of seawater. They also distributed milking cows to seven villages. Funding for clearance and bund building also came from Jesus, Mary and Joseph Sisters.
Father Balaswamy, who is in charge of the diocesan SSC, described the different phases of the relief operations.
Initially, 1700 people were given rice, utensils, clothes, spice packets. Kids from three villages received school kits and had their school fees paid for two years.
In the next phase, the SCC helped in the repair of 70 boats in Tallepalam, 19 in Pedda Kanuru and 36 in Tharangipalem. Nets and other fishing utensils were distributed for free.
In the coming phase, some 2,000 low cost housing units are expected to be built for the fishing community.
He added that the SCC's initiatives received substantial assistance from international aid agencies like Caritas and Christian Relief Services.