We give them a lot of freedom; people choose what is most important to them. In fact, in most cases, women choose to invest in the education of young people because they understand that their future depends on it. Typically, the self-help group lends 10,000 rupees to the family: 5,000 rupees are used for the education of a child and 5,000 for the purchase of animals, often small pigs. They have to repay the 10,000 rupees in one year with the profits from the sale of the animals. In one village, for example, 16 children benefited from the programme in the first year. All the loans have been reimbursed. The following year, 40 children were enrolled and all the loans were fully repaid. And this year we will be able to enrol more than 100 children in the program. Note that this is not only an opportunity to provide education for young people, but also to save them from the exploitation of child labour.
From the very beginning of my Jesuit life, I have been trained for rural work. At first I had thought of providing legal assistance, but circumstances directed me towards social work as such. Being the only one with this type of formation in the Region, I am convinced that this is our Jesuit way of helping the most vulnerable people. We offer them opportunities to express themselves before the authorities, the strength to put forward their points of view. And all of our interventions point to the importance of education - formal or non-formal - as the only path that will enable them to make the right decisions for their families and their communities. I am proud to say that after three and a half years of activity, the women in the communities we visited are becoming true leaders and contributing to the social and economic development of their communities."
Throughout the days when he travels through the countryside of Assam, Father Valerian feels close to Jesus who, all through his ministry, was an itinerant preacher in the villages of Galilee. Today's wandering social worker makes himself close, as Jesus did, to the poor and the forgotten of society. He opens perspectives for their future, he gives them courage, he brings them the joy of the Gospel.