HISTORICAL MOMENTS OF ASHIRWAD COMMUNITY
"Go into the world and preach the gospel to the all creation". (Mark 16; 15)
It has been the intention of the sisters to go to the’’ North ‘’ once they were settled in India. North India always symbolized the ‘ mission’ land and everyone desired to become missionary .In order to fulfill this dream our pioneer sisters arrived on 18th December 1984.The community received name Ashirwad which means “Blessing” and sister’s presence was really blessing for Dhulkot. In the initial stages they studied about the people, culture, tradition and language.
Dhulkot village is situated on a mountainous terrain among the hills. The people living here had less access to the near by town due to minimum transportation facilities. The main population of this place is by the Adivasi and scheduled caste people. All of them are basically farmers. Socially the people were an isolated group with the unique dress code, food habits, festivals, dialect and culture. Women work all most 12 hours a day. They do this in order to cope up with the household activities and that of the field. The literacy rate of women was almost zero. All of them lived in huts made out of mud. Their daily wage was very less. These situation led them to a miserable life causing malnutrition, ill health and commonly prevalent diseases such as scabies, anemia, malaria, T.B etc. The situation of women was very poor and backward. The girls were poorly educated. The people in general were illiterate and economically poor.The money lenders and the landlords exploit these people taking advantage of their illiteracy and poverty.
In 1985 the sisters found themselves involved with health care, adult education, tuition for the school going children and sewing classes for women. The days and months lived among the people , they learnt about the needs of the people. In 1987 MCH programme was started with 200 beneficiaries.In 1988, January 31st the new convent was blessed.
As the number of patients increased and more complicated cases started to come it was necessary to have a proper place. In 1990 January 25th Ashirwad Dispensary was blessed.In 1991 , Balawadi was started in order to give basic education.
The Government is interested to give basic education to the students but not able to provide good buildings and good teaching. Children were not interested to go to Government schools as they are not run properly. So many children from the village came to the sisters asking for tuition. The non formal education classes were attended by many children under the trees. When Bishop Abraham saw the number of children who attended the non –formal school in Ashirwad, he immediately discerned the need of having a regular school for children. In this situation the Ashirwad school was inaugurated on 5th July,1993 in the old convent.
All the special occasions were celebrated with so much enthusiasm and thus inculcated in the children, the importance of the day, school day ,were occasions for joyful celebrations.At this time mission started to flourish step by step. Teaching ministry, health care, village work, Adult education, non-formal education etc , brought lot of life in the villages. Even though Dhulkot is a village, living and working with people and it was an experience which ,made the sisters more aware of the people’s struggle for survival and it helped them to look into their own lives. Every year the candidates, postulants and novices came and stayed with the community and shared in the community ministries. Their presence was a great help for the mission.
In order to empower the women in the villages S.H.G s were formed with the support of K.D.S.S. The literacy rate of women was almost zero. They work whole day in the field and the house and they did not have any entertainment in their lives. As the result women were illiterate and economically poor. The money lenders and the landlord exploit these people taking advantage of their illiteracy and poverty. It was not a easy task to bring women in the groups. Sisters taught them to write their names and sign. Since women were illiterate, constant support was given by the sisters and animaters. After few years of training they were running the S.H.Gs, by themselves and they were able to go to the Bank, panchayath, taking loans, etc. They were confident to conduct meeting and taking up the project of mid-day meal in the Government school etc. Along with this farmer’s groups were formed and time to time training was given for them. In order to do cultivation and save the water Dam was built with the co-operation of the people.
Sisters continue to do the village work and visiting the families. At this time they realized that many children are not going to school especially girl children. They were working in the field or taking care of younger ones. In the Government school there was no proper teaching. In order to give good education there was no facility. In this situation sisters thought of giving accommodation in the Dispensary rooms and send them to Ashirwad school
We started the hostel in 2007with 6 girls and following year there was a great demand from the parents to admit their children in the hostel. At this situation sisters could not say no to it after all educating girl children. In 2007 a new chapter in the life of Ashirwad community was opened with Ashirwad girls’ hostel. Almost 3 years community was taking care of the hostel maintenance. Suggestion came from Khandwa Diocese was that everything belongs to Diocese so it should be under diocese. In 2010 hostel was registered under Diocese.
As the years go by number of children increased and we couldn’t accommodate them in the down floor. There was a widespread demand from the people to help their children to get educated by establishing care centres where the girls can stay and study and safe. Khandwa Diocese in order to respond this urgent need, above the existing dispensary building tin sheet was done for the leakage and temporary walls were erected so as to create rooms for the purpose of having the children accommodated. Diocese has done a lot for the development of this hostel.
We all of us feel that it is the need of the time to help the cause of promotion of quality education among girls and strive for better future through education. At present we have 75 girls from 15 villages. Now Ashirwad compound is with full of life and energy.
In 1984 the seed was sown in the heart of the village of Dhulkot. It was watered, manured, cared and loved by many of our sisters along with Khandwa Diocese. Now this seed has become a big tree and producing fruits for others. In the beginning the situation of women was very poor and backward. Most of the people were interested in cultivation and taking care of the cattle.. The girls were poorly educated and women had no voice in the society. We can see gradual development has taken place in socio-economic and cultural context. The main development has taken place in the field of education, health care, transportation and infra structure facilities. Now people are aware to educate their children especially girl child. More transportation facilities are enabling the people to have more connection to the towns and sending children for their further studies. Though people live in modern age their attitudinal and behavioral pattern is of old and they are with the unique dress code, food habits, festivals and culture. people in the village started to give more importance for education of their children.
In the past years of social work in the surrounding villages has brought lot of changes among women and farmers. Awareness and education have helped the people to know their rights and benefits from the various welfare programmes of the Government. At present 95% people and children are having their documents like, Rationcard, aadar card, Samagra I.D , voter I.D and Bank Account , caste certificate etc. In the villages people have started to build concrete houses and toilets.
Through Ashirwad school ,we lay much stress in giving basic foundation to our children. Hostel facility for girls have boosted the education among the under privileged of surrounding villages of Dhulkot. People wish to have quality treatment so people come from far away villages for the treatment. Once in a while Doctor’s visit is arranged for people in order to have better treatment. Students from Government schools approach us for the English tuition and we are available to them. In the parish we are involved in all the activities. We have started S.C.C ( Small Christian Communities )prayer meeting that we conduct once a month. We do visit families especially of our students .
Education can bring lot of change in the village. The fruits of education we can see in the villages . Many of our students are teachers, doing B.S.C. Nursing, L.L.B, Military training etc. and literacy rate has gone up.
No more thick forest, villages are with good roads, most of them have motor bikes, variety of mobiles etc.
Ashirwad community Dhulkot is the first community in North. During these 30 years God has blessed us abundantly. God’s protection we experience in many ways. The dedicated and whole hearted service of the sisters have certainly brought out change in the lives of the villagers. We are grateful to each one of you for bringing life in the mission of Dhulkot. Each one of you have touched and mission has grown. Continue to work together for the growth of the mission.
THANKS TO ALL.............