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Church gives hope to desperate farmers

Archdiocesan economic aid project is rebuilding shattered lives in India

A farming family stands outside their house in Kairi village, Nagpur A farming family stands outside their house in Kairi village, Nagpur
  • Saji Thomas, Nagpur
  • India
  • February 10, 2011
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Balaji Saneswar says he wouldn’t be alive today if it hadn't been for a Church program that helps families rebuild their lives.

A year ago, the Hindu farm laborer from Vidarbha in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, contemplated suicide because of lack of work resulting from crop failures.

“A very bleak future stared at me as I did not know how to feed my family or educate my two children,” said Saneswar.

The situation worried him so badly it began to take a toll on the 50-year-old’s health.

However, one year on, his daughter and son are continuing their studies, while his wife happily looks after the family needs.

“My worries are gone. My family owes a lot to the Church’s Save Family Plan,” Saneswar told ucanews.com earlier this month.

His is among some 600 farming families and individuals the Church program has given a new lease of life to.

Nagpur archdiocese has 200 such families while its suffragan dioceses of Amravati and Chanda look after 300 and 100 families respectively.

“The families under the plan are given special focus to rebuild their shattered lives,” explained Franciscan Clarist Sister Anjana Therese, who heads Nagpur archdiocese’s women’s commission.

The scheme provides 800 rupees (US$17.77) a month to each family; organizes medical checks and helps farmers start afresh, she told ucanews.com.

“We cannot help every needy person in the region. However, we are doing our best,” she added.

She said the Saneswar family gained new confidence after it bought two goats.

The Maharashtra government recently revealed that 4,427 farmers in the state committed suicide in the past decade. However, local activists estimate the death toll to be three times more.

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