Gaunaha Campus has a New Look

Gaunaha is situated at the Indo-Nepal border of the country and is a place of historic significance as it has ‘Bhitiharwa Ashram’ where Gandhiji and Kasturbaji stayed in 1917 organising the people against the forceful indigo plantation by the Britishers. Rampurwa, where the mission is located has an Ashoka pillar maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The entire area is thickly populated and is known as ‘Tharu hut belt’ the abode of Tharu tribes.

Gaunaha mission was initiated by Fr. Joseph Srampical, SJ in 1991. For the first 5 years, he operated from a place called Sitti, staying in a mud house involved in massive Non-Formal Education and conscientisation programmes. At present the Gaunaha Mission caters mostly to the Tharu and Oraon tribes and Musahars from the SCs considered the last and the least in the caste trunk in Bihar. The mission reaches out to 130 villages of three blocks; Gaunaha, Ramnagar and Mainatad with its informal and formal education and social work programmes for the empowerment of the poor.

30th November 2014 has been a day of celebration of the many blessings we received in the recent past. On this day we had the blessing and inauguration of the renovated Jesuit residence, new hostel for the girls and a training centre. Fr. Jose Vadassery, SJ, the provincial of Patna Jesuit Province was present for the ceremony. The blessing was with a prayer service led by Sr. Alexina, OLP and children. Soon after the blessing there was an audio-visual presentation on the history and development of the mission prepared by Fr. Saji Palamkunnel, SJ, the Principal of St. Xavier’s school, Gaunaha where he recalled the hard work and tireless efforts of Fr. Srampickal who initiated the mission years ago and began the school in 2005. St. Xavier’s school, Gaunaha is administered by K. R. Educational Association. At present the school has over 800 students, coming from over 70 villages of Gaunaha block. There are over 300 Tharus and 100 Musahar children studying in the school along with others. The 200 children staying in the campus are from the poorest and deprived sections of the area, some of them constantly affected by the continued erosion of the river banks and are displaced. The newly blessed residential arrangement could accommodate 100 girl children.

The children performed various programmes on the occasion, one of them being a dance on the famous English song by Michael Jackson- ‘Heal the world’. Sr. Sushma, OLP, prepared the children with the cultural programmes. While speaking on the occasion, Fr. Provincial reiterated that Gaunaha Mission is very much part of the Society of Jesus’ option for the poor. He also thanked Manos for supporting and appreciated the continued accompaniment of our own institutions such as KREA and READ, Bettiah. The Block Development Officer, the C.O and the Police Officers were also present for the program. The children looked very happy and are eager to move into the new residential arrangement. In the evening, the children had a grand hostel day celebration under the leadership of Fr. Albert Tirkey, SJ. The celebrations ended with an agape with children. Fr. Siji Varghese, SJ, the director of Gaunaha mission, coordinated the programs. Congratulations to the Gaunaha team!