St. Francis Primary School is located in Morsul, Rajshahi in Bangladesh. Morsul is a village of approximately 80 Christian families belonging to the Santal minority in Bangladesh. Most of the families are living in poverty and their main occupation are small jobs as daily laborers. The majority of them work as day laborers and their average income is $25 to $35 monthly (US dollars). Traditionally, school fees for children's education and other needs can run 1/2 or more of a families income. St. Francis School was founded in 2001 by a Roman Catholic Missionary Order. The school began with five students and one teacher. Over the years, the number of students have increased. Presently, there are 101 students along with 5 teachers. There are seven classes from pre-school to fifth grade. In 2014, The Catholic Mission announced they would no longer be able to support this educational mission. viaGlobal stepped in and mobilized friends around the world to help support the school. We believe, along with the famlies in Morsul, to change the community, education is the first step. St. Francis Primary school was about to close in 2014 but by the support of friends from around the world still the school is running.
I will be spending this coming academic year exploring and engaging in medical mission activities in India. To begin my time, I will serve at Van Allen Hospital, a mission hospital located in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu State in Southern India. For part of each day, I will have the opportunity to shadow the doctors both at the hospital and as they go on community visits. As I gain experience, my hope is to assist them with the medical care they are providing as appropriate. I will also have the opportunity to serve at a local rehabilitation center in Kodaikanal. My initial 3 months will include time studying the local Tamil language. Following these first three months at Van Allen Hospital, I will have the opportunity to engage with several other mission hospitals throughout India, to observe and assist in different medical settings. There I will also learn some of the national language, Hindi. I am thankful for this opportunity to learn about and participate in mission and service to vulnerable populations in the medical setting.