Xavier Raj, a native to southern India, was born in 1960. His story is marked in 1992, when he was working with the missionary sisters of Mother Theresa’s missionary charity on the streets of Kolkata. Here he witnessed the sale of a child for prostitution. Although he could not save the girl, he decided to devote his life to helping those vulnerable children on the streets of Kolkata: children of sexual exploitation, abandoned children, as well as a myriad of situations in the city where poverty remains the common denominator of 70% of its 15 million inhabitants.
The organization, with great effort, has grown gradually. Xavier Raj spent the first years of his project in the neighborhoods of Kolkata, where he taught and visited the children, but he soon realized that they needed to get out of these areas away from the dangers. Thus, he moved 10 children and settled in a bamboo house on the outskirts of Calcutta in a semi-rural area called Kobardanga.
At first it was very difficult times and they almost did not have enough food to eat. Things seemed impossible; but today, Xavier Raj has managed to provide shelter for about 300 children through India’s “Missionaries of the World” foundation.
Moreover, in his career, he has received the request for help from two rural villages about four hours from the city in the Sunderbans delta area, near the border of Bangladesh, where poverty and lack of resources are extreme. With the realization that many of the sex workers come from these impoverished rural areas, he decided to offer support with a project led by the community itself.
“Missionaries of the World” is a trust registered with the Government of India. It aims to give children a decent life in vulnerable situations, on the pillars of a basic education, and a welcoming home. The project is non-denominational, supporting Catholic, Muslim, and Hindu children. The organization receives support from different countries and local institutions, but maintains its ideological independence.
It focuses on two areas:
In Kolkata- The organization has five houses where about 200 children live; 85% of them come from the areas of prostitution. The houses are clean and bright in a rural setting giving children a home, the food that they need, clothing, and the means to meet their psychological and physical needs. This part of the project is called “New life- New hope”. It has established an approved school, “Nalanda Vidyapith”, where it is emphasized that children speak English. The foundation of a proper school has been necessary to adapt to the learning difficulties that draw children from the street; often this is not resolved in public schools. The emphasis on English, serves to give these children a better chance of future employment. There are also a small percentage of children from the families in the area at the school, which serves to improve integration. There are many extracurricular activities such as music, sports, and especially basketball allowing the children to enjoy. For the youth, they have started a vocational school called “Mother Theresa”, where young people learn skills in the textile field, welding, and electronics while earning a small salary.
In the Sunderbans- Funds support two schools, a basic medical clinic, urgent medical interventions, and feeding programs when there is flooding and crops fail. In the future, priority issues of the project will be vocational training and college scholarships, vaccination of all children of Kobardanga, improving basic health in the Sunderbans, and the opening of a new home to house children with deficiencies. Year after year, the project improves and it is exciting to be partakers of this great story.