Alleviate suffering. Illuminate the mind. Ignite the Spirit.
Date: 
September 14, 2017

Give now!The Opportunity Door

Famous Vaudeville comedian Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

Our newest projects in India seek to do just that for some of the region’s poorest women and families.

"It is high time to get down deep into the burning human and social issues affecting single women." - Fr. Marian Arackal, Director, Diocesan Social Service - Kerala, India

When a baby girl is born in India, her birth is rarely celebrated because of dowries and other societal norms regarding women that poor families can’t afford. From the beginning of her life, a woman is often considered a burden, and this mindset follows her throughout her life. Women—especially unmarried women and widows—are often neglected, abused, harassed, and assaulted. Worst of all, this abuse is often committed by the extended family these women must rely on for protection!

In Kerala, India’s most densely populated state, poverty and unprecedented food shortages are on the rise. There are fewer opportunities to advance, fewer jobs, and no help from the government.

Stats graphic

The statistics paint a clear picture: 65% of the women polled in Kerala never completed high school; 27% have a high school diploma; and only 2% have ever received vocational training. Of the 1,300+ women polled, only 19 have completed university studies. This lack of access to education and resources has effectively trapped these women in poverty, leaving them vulnerable and alone.

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." - Milton Berle

Our ministry partners in Kerala tell us, “There are organizations and associations to advocate and stand for” people who are discriminated against, including the elderly and people with developmental and/or physical disabilities, but there are “no noteworthy initiatives” for women in their region of Kerala.

“It is high time,” they say, “to rectify this omission and get down deep into the burning human and social issues of single women with a definite strategy and agenda.”

We couldn’t agree more.

$23 gives  $39 gives...  $127 gives...

Door Building 101

"In case of need, every normal and healthy woman is able to hold a profession. And there is no profession which cannot be performed by a woman."

- St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

When circumstances seem so dire and difficult to overcome, how exactly are we supposed to follow Milton Berle’s advice and build a door for opportunity?

For the poor women and families in Kerala, it starts with access to vocational and professional training. Your generosity today will provide them with the training they need to become seamstresses, caterers, and hairdressers.Women in Kerala have new opportunities

You can even provide a goat (yes, a goat) for them, which will provide food for the women to eat, and eventually products—such as goat milk, goat cheese, manure, and meat—that they can sell for additional income.

 St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) once said, “In case of need, every normal and healthy woman is able to hold a profession. And there is no profession which cannot be performed by a woman.” These women are capable and motivated to build a better life for themselves and their families, but they can’t reach their goals without your help—they can’t build their Opportunity Door without you.

Step Two

The next step, after career training, is to provide spiritual, psychological, and emotional support for these women. Our ministry partners in India include priests and religious who are committed to mentoring these women not just through job training but also in faith formation and assistance in building a community of women that supports each other through professional and social networks.

In short, our ministry partners want to help these women form deep, authentic friendships with one another so they can support each other in the trials and joys of life, and share with each other the hope of Christ.

We know that when we believe in each other, the possibilities are endless. When women come together for the betterment of themselves and their community, the good will be unstoppable. You can help these women become who God created them to be, and your generosity will not only change their lives but the lives of generations to come.

How You Can Help

At Catholic World Mission, we are constantly amazed at how far small gifts can go. In Kerala, here's what your generosity will do:

  • $23 provides a widow with career training to become a seamstress or other business owner
  • $39 protects women from abuse and neglect by allowing them to pay for an attorney or cover legal fees
  • $127 gives a woman a goat—an ongoing resource for her family and surrounding community—as well as the training needed to properly care for the goat

Even the smallest gift can make a lasting change for individual women and for the whole fabric of society in Kerala and beyond. Click on the green "Give Now" button to make lasting change today!

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Kerala Women Advocate for Themselves and Empower Others

One of the many things that make these women in Kerala so special is not just their drive and determination to improve their own lives, but also their willingness and commitment to give back to their community. As part of their training, they will be installed as social volunteers and service providers for their local community, reaching out to others who suffer on the fringes of society.

Truest Identity as Beloved Daughters of God

We want you to meet some of these heroic women:

Margaret_HeadshotMargaret

Ten years ago, the death of Margaret’s husband plunged her and their two children into poverty. Margaret, now 47, struggled to keep her family fed, clothed, and they were constantly on the verge of homelessness. Our partners in Kerala saw Margaret’s plight and offered a helping hand. She received training to care for livestock and was taught how to be a seamstress. With the help of our partners and her local community, Margaret and her kids are thriving. Both of her children—a son and a daughter—are in university and on their way to earning degrees which will allow them to be productive, self-sufficient members of their community.

MercyMercy_Headshot

Mercy, 48, has shown great determination to build a door of opportunity for herself and her family. For years, she performed the vital and irreplaceable work for family as a stay-at-home mother but her family constantly struggled to make ends meet. After receiving entrepreneurial training, she began selling cloth and other daily necessities to the people of her village. The income she generated stabilized her family’s finances and made it possible for her two daughters to go to school. Her daughter Josna, 22, works as an accountant, while her daughter Melna, 14, is in 9th grade at her school. Mercy wasn’t content to reap the benefits of her hard work on her own. She also volunteers as a Health Worker in her village, passing the torch of knowledge and proactive self-care by educating local people on preventing disease and basic hygiene and health awareness.

Daphny at work in her tailoring shopDaphny

Daphny was born to a poor family and orphaned at a young age, leaving her and her brother with no inheritance and no way to pay a dowry. As a result, Daphny has never been married. She lives with her brother and his wife and children. Unfortunately, her brother has a heart condition and other health issues that prevent him from working. Daphny took charge of her life and enrolled in various training courses over the years, learning vital skills such as leadership, disaster management, and business skills. As a result, she was able to start a tailoring business and a catering business. Her businesses are thriving—she now provides for her entire extended family and contributes to the local economy by providing jobs for others in the community.

Don't Miss the Chance to Bring New Opportunities to Women in Need

Daphny, Mercy, and Margaret have found their dignity again after society told them they had none. They are a true inspiration to us and to other women in Kerala, because they are determined to spread the message that all women are worthy of respect, no matter their "caste, creed, or community." 

St. Teresa Benedicta also said, "Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning." The women in Kerala are living into their feminine identity--their truest identity as beloved daughters of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring about positive change in their communities--by seeking out the tools they need to transform their own lives and then by giving back to the women who come after them.

Join us in celebrating these women, their bravery, their success, and please, build a door of opportunity for thousands of others like them through a generous donation today. Click on the green button below to make a difference today!

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Read the full campaign here.

To learn more about our partners in Kerala, please visit Jeevana and the Diocese of Cochin.