This summer, Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Episcopal Church will be raising funds to provide tuition and living expenses for underprivileged students enrolled at Church Mission Society College in Kerala, India. Here's how you can help.
In May 2021, as coronavirus case numbers began to drop in the US, India was in the throes of the world’s worst outbreak. 400,000 new cases were reported each day, resulting in the closure of many institutions that sustain the population.
Our interim priest, Rev. Koshy Mathews, has identified Church Mission Society College in the state of Kerala that serves underprivileged populations. In speaking with the College Director, the best way to support the students is to provide funding for short-term living expenses and tuition when classes resume. Here's what the principal has to say:
"The second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic is wrecking havoc in Kerala. This has created a trauma amongst the students as well as the staff members. Considering the seriousness of this situation, we have suspended all the academic activities during this lockdown period. To chase away the dark clouds of the pandemic the college has initiated a program called Revive, Refresh and Reboot to bring the children out of their stress through fun activities. Teachers are finding time to interact with students, especially those who are socially challenged. Many of our students and their parents, relatives or friends are infected by Covid. This pandemic and the lockdown have seriously affected the psyche of the students who are orphans and those students whose parents are working for daily wages. Some of the parents have lost their jobs due to closing down of several establishments. Moreover there is a huge surge in the Covid cases in Kerala which indicates the possibility of an extension to the present lockdown. There are about 50 students who are in a dire situation due to this Covid pandemic. We have started addressing their immediate needs like medical aid, educational aid and other financial support using the college emergency funds which is very limited. Since this is an unprecedented circumstance which we have not faced in the past, the college needs helping hands to support our children and their families. We expect your compassionate support in this situation. We are looking forward to hearing from you regarding this.
Dr. Varghese C. Joshua
Principal, CMS College, Kottayam."
To raise these funds, we have designed an educational program that celebrates a very special Indian tradition. Our program, called “The Bond of Care,” incorporates Raksha Bandhan, a tradition which dates back to the early 19th century. Raksha Bandhan means “bond of protection or care” and is traditionally celebrated by a sister tying a threaded amulet, known as a rakhi, around her brother’s wrist, honoring their relationship. The bracelet symbolizes the brother’s oath to protect his sister throughout her life, and the sister’s prayers and blessings for protection and wellbeing of her brother. Though Raksha Bandhan is specifically related to the bond of a brother and sister, this holiday is ultimately a message of the universal brotherhood and sisterhood that can be recognized amongst all people. Because of this, rakhi are often tied between spouses, friends, and family.
Raksha Bandhan is not widely celebrated in the US, despite its positive message of love, connection and human kindness. These values are intrinsic to our mission as a church. Through the act of exchanging rakhis, we are binding ourselves to each other and to the students whom we are sponsoring.
Purchase one or more rakhis through our website. 100% of the proceeds from these sales will benefit the school in India. You do not have to be member of our congregation. Anyone can participate.
On Sunday, August 22, 2021, our Sunday Service will incorporate Raksha Bandhan into the liturgy. If coronavirus restrictions are lifted by then, the act of peace will be supplemented by the exchange of rakhis. Those who livestream the service can participate offsite.