Missionary Work in the Age of Corona…A Note from India and Sister Nektaria

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Cleo Constantin shared the following message and letter from Sister Nektaria, a Greek Orthodox missionary nun in India:

Dear friends, this is the news from Sister Nectaria as of about 20 minutes ago. It is unimaginable!  I was gasping as I read it and then moved to tears. Her passport and visa expired during the extreme lockdown and, although she is required to return to Greece for new paperwork, she was not permitted to leave!  What a situation.  Then the worst cyclone in the history of India devastated the grounds and seriously damaged the buildings with 165 mile-an-hour winds. It is an overwhelming situation.  Please pray for her. 

June 19, 2020

My dearest Cleo, Kalimera/Kalispera!

I pray and hope you are keeping well.

In the midst of so many difficulties God is smiling to us giving hope and courage  through the people with generous heart. Yes I know, the great heart of our beloved Archbishop Nikitas does not forget India. Despite his new responsibilities and needs, he is still loving and caring for us. God to grant him health and many years and to all of you there in California.

From where to start Cleo mou? You know my papers are expired as my flight cancelled. There are no more international flights. However to my application for extension due to covid 19 the answer was that I am facing Imprisonment penalty as I have violated the Law of the Country. The Greek Embassy interfered, they took good care and finally yesterday I received an exit permit valid for few days. In the meantime an No Objection certificate is required from the Income tax department as I had an employment visa even though without remuneration. This NOC is required when leaving the country. I prepared 20 documents yesterday to deposit today in IT to get after 10 days this NOC . Then I have to find urgently any rescue flight that repatriate Europeans, if there is any  after 10 days. There is nothing from Kolkata, we are searching from some other town the soonest possible. I hope God will help me in the end.

It is not a good time to leave now. My presence is much more necessary this time but I have no option….

The situation in West Bengal is not good at all. The lockdown and the cyclone left people without work and without house, without money to feed even their family. As a result they cannot pay the monthly fees, even so small, in our School. Majority of our students are from the surrounded area that is very poor. From 750 students 150 are totally free and about 50 non orphan but poor they have  50% or some concession. The were paying their monthly fees and with that I was affording the School Staff salaries. Other big expenses were carried out by PSOC . Then due to affiliation and recognition process from last November I had to increase the school staff salaries to the Government Pay Scale and like that we reach the huge amount of 750.000Rs per month. For this reason I had to increase also from April 2020 , when the academic year starts in India, the monthly fees by 100 rs. per student and per month. This increase, if everybody pays,  could help us to afford salaries. Finally with the lockdown and the financial crisis we should go down to our last year fees. Even though, only 81 students so far are paying monthly, the rest are in big trouble and so we are….

The teachers are working hard giving from Monday to Saturday online classes as schools still closed, and they must be paid This is another big headache for us now…

Most of our Orphanages’ staff asking desperately for help. Their houses made most from mud are completely broken, fallen down by this terrible cyclone. Rain has already started , terrible situation. They are asking money, no to build but to buy bamboo sticks and plastic to make just a room and cover themselves. From the villages the same. All are looking for some help from us… if only I had a machine to cut money!….How and how many we can  help?

We also have our own needs. The damages are much more serious as I thought. When the cyclone took the solar panels out from the girls building the iron structure going out make big cracks in the roof and water is coming now in the rooms when rains. This is a huge and expensive work.

No any water tank left in the new school building. We saw this yesterday as the ladies went to clean and there was no water. Going up to the roof to check ,we could not believe that from 6 big tanks only one was left there.

And so many other Cleo mou….yesterday i went to kalighat Greek Church to inspect. Other problems there….

The children are still doing cooking and all the house work as I don’t allow the ladies to enter. They have come back to work this month but outside in the garden and the school buildings. The corona virus affected cases are increasing in Kolkata very much and I have to protect the children.

In this difficult  situation i have also to leave as soon as possible.

What to do? God knows better everything and we have to thank Him that we all are in good health.

Stay safe my dear Cleo. Give my greetings and thanks to your family and everybody.

God to bless all of us.

With all my love and gratitude,

sr. Nektaria

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