Exodus 2019- Migrant day at Raigad

“No mother will be able to live separate from her little one, but I had to leave my daughter in my village, because if I choose to stay with her, I won’t be able to give her neither education nor a dignified way of living, I think of her all the time and worry about her. I call her at all my free times to check if my girl is safe and what she is doing, because she is the one who is always on my heart”. Words of Alisha and her tender love expressed with firm convictions impressed all of us who were present at the migrant day. The concerns of Shepherding the people of our peripheral Christian communities besides the kathkari tribes of Raigad was taken seriously by the religious communities at mission and came up with the desire of resonating the feelings of Pope Francis in reaching out to the vulnerable migrant communities and specifically to the Christian tribal communities who are living in the poultry farms with in Raigad deanery, the majority of whom migrated from northern states of India. It indeed was a great day and marked in the history of Raigad in golden scripts as it was the first time the Christian tribal communities who are spread in various places in Raigad had come together under the banner of Raigad mission. There was festivity and true joy in every one’s face even when many of them came after working up to 6pm in the poultries before reaching for the Eucharistic celebration at Nagottane. The main celebrant of the Eucharist was Bishop Alwyn Dsilva the zonal Bishop of Raigad Deanery. The Eucharist began with a rhythematic tribal dance from the women of Koletty. There was not even a trace of tiredness but a deep sense of reverence and gratitude to the ONE who had brought them together. Fr. Richie Quadros SVD broke and shared the God’s word, proclaiming once again God’s concern for the pain of His people, His unconditional love with which He loved even with the last drop of His blood, gaining true liberation for all, His assurance of walking with the migrants while they become the bread broken and shared every day for their families, loved ones and at their work place. The lively liturgy and angelic music helped us to enter in to and experience of placing our hearts with the HEART OF GOD in adoration and union.

There was a panel followed by the Eucharist in which Mr. Savio from Koletty, Ms. Stella Tirkey from Roha and Alisha from Nijampur- the representatives of the tribal communities -shared their stories, their needs and dreams. When young Savio broke down in gratitude to His parents who though being illiterate have given a good education and helped reaching their children to a good status of living and above all in good values and deep faith, the whole assembly felt the pulses of the people who are living in such conditions and transforming their sweat and blood for the dreams of their children. While some of them expressed their problem as financial constraints, the difficulty of learning in Marathi medium, lack of higher educational facilities, ignorance about job opportunities and choosing rightly their professions , the need of learning English in order to converse and excel in the modern and techy-savy world; it was so impressive to know that they also long for God experience through prayer and worship as they expressed their desire to have a small chapel at Koletty to come together and pray , the need of faith formation for the children besides the masses celebrated every week; in Priyas words “ We want our children and youngsters to know about  Jesus and His values and grow in good morals”. These were their expectations from the Diocese of Mumbai expressed in their simple words. The panel was guided by Fr. Richie SVD and Bishop Alwyn informed them about the “Migrant desk” which is set up at the Diocesan level in order to help the migrant communities; Fr. Joe Borges the Dean informed the communities that they are also welcomed to the hostels run by the priests and nuns in Raigad and to their schools where they can get a quality education and build their lives up on the good foundation. Bishop Alwyn assured the people that we would look in to the concerns expressed by them.

The prominent quality and value in these people are the “Gift of gratitude and respect” which is rare in our societies of today. Though this program was organised for the most vulnerable and poor migrant communities , they showed us the richness of their heart by felicitating Bishop and all RJM team present there and the people who played major roles in making the great day possible for them. They bought the special towels all the way from Chatisgad as they wanted to share with us something of their culture.

They express themselves best through their rhythmic steps and music and we had various groups presenting their cultural programmes and towards the end the “karam Dance” which is very much part of their culture. Everyone joined in this joy of stepping together to one rhythm and song.

It was a day indeed marked in the Heart of God, in the heart of the People who participated and organized. It was not just a celebration of Migrant day but beginning of a new journey together, an exodus both inward and outward, liberating, worshipping in love and truth, enriching each other’s lives by living together the good news proclaimed and shared by the GREAT SHEPHERED Jesus. We desire to live and share the same mind and heart of GOD who has taught us to dream and strive for His Kingdom here and now where all live in love, peace, dignity and harmony. Yes …it indeed is an exodus where we have our God walking with us and accompany us In His “Arc of the covenant” made in the tent of deepest being of each human person.

Sr. Brigit Viji, aci