We invite you to listen to Karoline Peter, one of our staff in Alleppey, speak about the work of the Franciscan Family Apostolate in Alleppey.
Several programs have been the mainstay of the Franciscan Family Apostolate over the years to assist the poor in Alleppey on the road to self-sufficiency.
Our sponsorship program is of primary importance and requires a long term commitment of at least three years. You will be assigned to a specific family, sent photos and a family background. The recommended monthly donation is $25.00 which will be given to the family quarterly. To insure our family transactions no cash is used. A bank account is set up for your assigned family and checks are issued at the time of distribution. Obviously some families are more in need than others. For instance, a widow with children will have a greater need than a family where both mother and father are present. The monthly amount you may want to spend on your family, depending on their need and your ability, may vary as long as you do not fall under the requested $25.00 per month. Communication is encouraged. Families are required to write letters to their sponsors after each distribution; sponsors are encouraged to communicate with their families but not required; communication with our staff in India is encouraged and can be reached simply by email, telephone or Skype. Our staff is anxious to help you in anyway they can to facilitate your relationship with your poor family. And if you desire to visit your family we will help facilitate you. The following was written by one sponsor who recently traveled to India to visit his and his parents’ sponsored families.
A Sponsor Visits His Family
“Driving toward our first meeting with the family that my wife and I sponsor, I was nervous. What would they think of me? What would I say to them? I didn’t speak a word of Malayalam, the local language, and I didn’t know if any of them spoke any English…But how could I express the feelings that my family members and I had for them after sharing in their lives from a distance for so long? Would our meetings be awkward? I needn’t have worried. Each of the four visits was wonderful and deeply moving. I was greeted with loving kindness at each home, garlanded with flowers and treated to a refreshment…The children told us about their education, the kinds of things they like to do, and what they hope d for in the future…I was humbled by two things in particular about these families: their perseverance in the face of terrible hardships, and their unshakable faith in God…The FFA gives these families the means to survive and, just as importantly, the hope that their children can have a better life…Perhaps the most important message I can convey to sponsors and other readers is that your regular contributions are making a vital impact on your families’ lives, as I have seen with my own eyes…Whatever it is, the sacrifices we make to send our support regularly – whether these are easy or painful according to our finances – are making a word of difference to the families. The real transaction is the love we give and get in return so abundantly.” (Thomas F. Tartaron, Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania)
There are many ways that sponsored families can receive additional help. This video demonstrates the needs that often exist beyond those covered by sponsors and that we always welcome everyone to support as their situations allow:
Optional programs to help sponsored families are:
Housing Construction and Repair Program
An old Irish proverb says “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live” and is reminiscent of Isaiah 57:
“This is my chosen fast: Share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your homes, clothe the naked when you see him/her, do not turn away from people in need. Then cleansing life shall break forth like the dawn, and your wounds shall soon be healed. Your triumph shall go before you and your Lord’s glory shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer. ”
Many of our families are homeless. They live in temporary shacks too dilapidated to stand up against the winds of the annual monsoons. When the tsunami struck in 2004 sheds, primarily made of coconut fronds and corrugated roofs disappeared along with its occupants. Over the years the Franciscan Family Apostolate has assisted in the construction and repair of homes. It may seem a daunting task however it can be done. It is not costly to build a house, at least not like the West. And, experience has shown, that your financial assistance combined with that of the Indian government and the Franciscan Family Apostolate can work miracles. To a family who have spent their lives in a thatched hut leaking water during the monsoons and standing in mud where there was once a sand floor, a brick tiled roof house would be manna from heaven. They would consider themselves truly blest. Our housing program, if within your means, is a family’s ticket to normalcy – the whole physical response of the family changes to that of joy. One can see the change in the constant smiles on their faces.
If anything, the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) emphasizes the responsibility to not only develop our selves but to assist in the development of others. Should you decide to assist your family through a micro-credit loan you would indeed be assisting in the development of their God given talents giving them a tremendous lift in their self-worth profile and a small share if independent economic achievement.
With such assistance, your family could start a rice, fish, spice 0r firewood vending businesses. Others have started such businesses as tailoring, driving their own auto rickshaw, coir mat making and auto repair shops. All these businesses are within reach if financial assistance, ranging from $300 to $400, is provided to them.
This has been a popular program for several reasons:
- it helps your family achieve economic independence; because they must pay back the loan it teaches them how to budget
- because the recycled funds are used again on other families it is the “gift that keeps on giving.”
- The great benefit of this program is its emphasis on responsible sharing and good stewardship principles.
- Your family is learning economic interdependence – we all need each other and we are only as weak as our weakest link.
- Your family is taught to realize if they do not repay what is loaned other families will be effected negatively – a sobering lesson in financial prudence.
. To date there has been a 100% return on our investment – both in paybacks and successful ventures. This program is truly a great blessing for many reasons.
Vocational Training Fund
Alleppey is now an area where properly trained young men and women can find work. It’s finding proper affordable training for that work that continues the cycle of poverty for many of our families.
The Franciscan Family Apostolate supports vocational training that aids young people to get stable, well-paying employment. This program is meeting with great success. In the 2012 we were able to partner with various auto dealers in Alleppey – Cochin area to train young men and women in English, computers and retail sales. Training is available also in the area of carpentry, masonry and hospitality.