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Good Shepherd Convent, Amaravathi - Andhra Pradesh

After 25 years of Good Shepherd Mission in Mangalagiri region of Guntur Diocese in Andhra Pradesh, the sisters were invited by Most Rev. Gali Bali, Bishop of Guntur Diocese to work among and for the marginalized communities in and around Amaravathi Parish. Responding to the invitation, in June 1993, Srs. Sabina Pathrose, Francina Michael R.I.P and Deepthi Mukalel stayed in a rented house and started to work with the dalit women and their families in 20 sub stations of the parish. Gradually they initiated Women’s Group in 12 villages and facilitated constructive interaction and encouraged savings and thriftiness. At times, depending on the situation, sisters used to stay back in the villages to facilitate the women groups functioning. The living conditions of the dalits at that time were quite startling. In most of the houses, children were not sent to schools, incidents of school dropouts, practice of early marriages for the girl children and atrocities against the dalits were common.

During these early years, 10 cents of land was purchased to put up a convent. On 16th August 1995, Most Rev. Gali Bali, Bishop of Guntur Diocese blessed the house of Sisters of the Good Shepherd named as ‘Samatha Nilayam’.

During 1993 to 2000, the sisters involved themselves in forming Women’s Group in 20 villages for regular interaction focusing on individual and community development, organised the youth groups, established Child Care Centres, conducted after-school coaching classes for children of dalit communities and attended to the cases of atrocities on SC/ST communities.

On-going Services at ‘Samatha Nilayam’ 

1. Child Labour Elimination 

a. Residential Bridge Camp for the Out-of-School Girls
Girl children who are out-of-school are identified and academically as well as psychologically trained to get back to school. During this academic year 2014 – 2015, as many as 57 girl children are benefitting under this intervention. At the Residential Bridge School, an attractive learning atmosphere is created and the children are prepared to be willing to go to school.

b. Strengthening of Community Structures
i. Bala Panchayats: Children in the age group of 11 to 18 years are oriented and trained to form as Bala Panchayats to become responsible and responsive citizens with right ideologies, in order to promote democracy work in words and in spirit for the good of all, especially the marginalized.
ii. Adolescent Girls Groups: Girls in the age group of 14 to 18 years are formed into groups at the village-level and trained to equip themselves with life-oriented skills that would protect their rights for a dignified future.
iii. Child Rights Protection Committees: In all the villages Child Rights Protection Committees (CRPCs) have been initiated and strengthened in order to monitor child rights violations.
iv. Community Sensitization: Through media, the general public is made aware of the rights pertaining to children; street plays, handouts, thematic posters and television spots are used to educate the people on ill-effects of child rights violations.

2. CHALICE – Educational Sponsorship
Since 1996, to reach out to needy children and their families, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in partnership with CHALICE, Canada have established a programme that helps children and their families. The programme has the following components with specific purposes.
Supporting Formal & Vocational Education, Health & Hygiene, Nutrition, Medical Assistance, Community Development Programme

3. CHILDLINE 1098 (Guntur)
In 2012, the Good Shepherd Convent has been chosen as the Collaborative Organisation by the CHILDLINE India Foundation, Mumbai to manage the CHILDLINE 1098 at Guntur District. The CHILDLINE is a 24 hours free phone service, which can be accessed by a child in distress or an adult on his behalf by dialing the number 1098 on telephone. This programme is initiated and supported by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme(ICPS). (http://www.childlineindia.org.in/1098/child-labour-updates-stories-across-India-Guntur.htm)

4. Prevention of Child Abuse.
5. Human Rights Education & Legal Aid
Legal Couselling, Fact-finding & Legal Interventions, Observation of National & International Days related to human rights, Networking for Human Rights, Follow-up Programme, Community Sensitization on Dalit Women Rights
6. Prevention of Human Trafficking
7. Economic Justice for the Dalit Women
8. Networking for human rights
9. Good Shepherd Mission Development Office, India/Nepal is temporarily located in Amaravathi which plays a facilitative role for accelerating the social development mission in both South West and Central East India/Nepal Provinces of the Good Shepherd Congregation in India/Nepal.

Currently four thematic issues were considered to be of paramount important for collective interventions. They are . . .

Human Trafficking & Migration, Economic Justice for the Vulnerable Communities, Protection and Promotion of Girl Child Rights and Promoting Human Rights

The Good Shepherd Mission Development Office, India/Nepal aims at building the capacities of the Good Shepherd people to scientifically address the issues of the target people with appropriate strategies and activities for best interests of the marginalized, especially women and children. *****

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