Our sisters began visits to Vizhinjam and close-by parishes along with Mr. Thomas our Mission Partner in May 2014. During this period (2014 to 2017) we came to know various problems of this area especially the upcoming displacement of people due to Vizhinjam Mother Harbor which is currently under construction. The urgent need and possibility of a mission were discussed in our Social Action Ministry Meeting by sisters and mission partners.
The major problems identified in Vizhinjam were, it was a high-risk area for different ways of trafficking, migration, drugs abuse, alcoholism, school drop outs, breakage of families, suicide, atrocities against women and prostitution. The province decided to have a Mission here and to have a House of our own. After much discernment we requested the Bishop and got permission to begin our Mission.
On the 3rd of October 2017 our two Sisters Sr. Rosily.P.V and Sr. Alphy started the extended Mission in Trivandrum. We got a rented house and the sisters moved in to Kovalam parish which is three Kilometers away from Vizhinjam. The Bishop entrusted Good Shepherd Sisters to work with IVD Fathers in this parish. While the sisters were here, the coastal area was struck with a natural calamity OKHI in which many lives were lost and people were missing. Many lost boats and nets too. Their lively hood becomes a problem for the people. Our sisters along with mission partners supported the Dioceses with financial and personnel support.
Later on Vizhinjam Parish accepted our interest to work with them. In Vizhinjam we found above 80% of families affected by Alcoholism, Drug abuse, Domestic violence and 5% of women commit suicide, more or less 60% of parents are illiterate, 25% of children are drop-outs from 8th std. onwards, 90% of them including youth depending on the sea for job thus not trained for any other job and 60% of the families are with heavy debt. 30% do not own a house among them 15% live as joint families other 15% live in rented house as in a colony. Many of the houses are in unlivable condition and some do not have basic needs like toilet. Trafficking in the name of job in abroad is common. Unskilled youth and women domestic workers are the targets. Love affairs which start in young age like 12 to 17, child abuse and child pregnancy, before age living together and having child without marriage are other major problems.
Another peculiar problem that we identified is the girl children are given in engagement while they study in 10th itself. Married couples easily get separated, very easily they get in to bad companies and friendship which cultivates unwanted habits like drinking, drug abuse, gambling, and not ready to find a job or be steady in job or study. There is lack of common responsibilities among people. There are many children deserted and orphaned and cared by grandmothers due to mother commit suicide. Some of them stay in Government hostel for their studies.
We are also involved in a Diocesan programe called Family Mission in Trivandrum in which all families of the diocese are visited at parish level and their problems identified. This will help the parish and diocese to plan and work for the people in a better way.