Witnessing the Gospel to tribal Mundari Tribals in India
Father Fernandes explained the terrible living conditions of the tribals and said that even priests often feel abandoned by the local authorities in their mission.
Poverty, malnutrition and lack of proper health service has led to the death of two young Mundari tribals, said Father Lino Fernandes, a missionary priest of Pilar Goa working in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.
The death from disease of two young Mundari tribals from the same family in a week has brought notice to the terrible living conditions of this ethnic minority community.
The priest informed that when a third child was taken ill recently, the child’s father Noas Kandir has had to travel "more than 10 km" to reach the nearest clinic.
Most people live in thatched huts without running water, electricity and roads. The poverty is crushing; they are landless daily wage farm labourers and hence getting medical attention means losing a day's wage. Malaria is emerging as the major public health problem because of the rapid spread of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.
Father Fernandes explained the terrible living conditions of the tribals and said that even priests often feel abandoned by the local authorities in their mission. The closest government medical centre is 18 km away and there are no means of public transport to it. Besides, even "the cost of medicines is prohibitive," the priest said why the Mission station's most urgent need is to build an equipped medical facility. "With the compassionate heart of Christ, we are trying to help these people and as soon as we become aware of an emergency or serious situation, we rush to provide transport to the hospital or clinics," he said.
The parish of Blessed Mother Teresa of Siadih has 45 Mundari families scattered among 25 villages, 10 of which are 15-20 km distant from the church.
The mission is dedicated to Mother Teresa because "we are at the service of the poorest of the poor," Father Fernandes concluded. In this, they are assisted by Missionaries of Charity sisters, who travel to remote areas to teach tribal women how to reduce infant mortality and improve maternal healthcare.
The Indian President Pranab Mukherjee recently praised the efforts of the Catholic Church to contribute to the socio-economic and cultural development of the tribals. During a recent speech in the diocese of Krishnagar in West Bengal, the President regretted that the tribals - 8.6% of the more than 1.2 billion people - are at the top of the list in infant mortality, lack of education and inability to cultivate their lands. He commended the work of the missionaries, both in the field of education, healthcare and social work becoming over time a source of inspiration for those working in the sector.
Source: Vatican Radio