The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo

Kamba village, Varap post, shahad, Kalyan west,
Thane Dist, Maharashtra, India - 421103

Brief History of Georai Mission

Beed district has a long history of many rulers and kingdoms. In the ancient era, this city was called as Champavati nagari. The city still proudly shows some old monuments showing the signs of past glory in the form of many city entry doors (called Ves in local language) and city protection walls. Until the 19th century, this part of Marathwada was under the Nizam monarchy, but was later included into the Indian Republic after a fierce struggle between Indian freedom fighters and Nizam
It was the call of the church as it was heading to enter into the millennium. During the Bishops conference the Bishops called to the major superiors to choose any two rural and neglected areas to expand the mission to make know Christ to the world. In the year 1999 Fr. James Shelke and Fr. Promod Raikar, the Jesuit priest from Pune Province who were fervently working to develop these neglected areas in Beed Districts, Aurangabad diocese. Co-incidentally met Sr. Luisa from Pravara Nagar, invited to work in the Mission Station to the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo. Sr. Bernedine the Provincial who decide to send sisters to Georai in Beed Districts. On May 29, 1999, in response to the call ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation’ Srs, Leena Volder, Hilda Fernades and Angela Tavaris reached Beed accompanied by Sr. Sheela Corda the Provincial Councilor.
The Economic Set-up:
Most of the villagers are landless labourers, daily wage earners and small farmers who depend only on rain water for their cultivation. There are no industries in these areas except for a sugar factory which is closed during the six months of the year. Hence the major problem here is the large scale (80%) migration people go for sugarcane cutting. Georai Taluka is known for its poverty, socio-economic and educational backwardness.
The Social Set-up:
In Georai Taluka there are 80% of Hindus, 10.9% Muslims and 0.03% of Christians. There are many casts among the Hindus. Mang and Mahar are the more prevalent among them. Marriages of children and minors are common. Besides dowry deaths, wife beating, low status of women and alcoholism are as common as in any other part of India.

Educational Aspects

Education has a very low priority for the people of this area. Parents are not concerned about the education of their children especially the girl child. They take their children along with them for sugarcane cutting at the very early age and children are away from the school for most part of the year. Hence the need to create an increase awareness on the value of education and concerned effort to make educational opportunities available particularly in the rural area.
Journeying towards Growth:
Georai is one of the most neglected areas of Marathawada. In response to starting afresh and in fidelity to the founding Charism of the Congregation of the sisters became pilgrims among the nomads and gipsy’s wandering in these places. After a year of stay at Beed, it was a great joy for the sisters to have their own small rented house at Georai just outside the Jesuit properties. Sr. Janet D’Souza and Iren Lewis reached the Promised Land on transfer basis, accompanied by Anjala Tawares on June 17, 2000. The house at Georai is located about 35 kms from Beed. A lot of adjustments and tolerance were demanded for the pioneers for the first five years since there was no proper buildings, no proper classrooms, and other facilities and uncertainties regarding the continuation of the mission.

On April 26, 2001 the blessing of foundation of our convent in the presence of many fathers, sisters and laity. On May 5, 2002 was a memorable day for sisters to enter into the sweet home which was also inaugurated on that day.

The mission saw the progress in meeting the needs of the boys on Dec.13th for boys and girls hostel on 26th, 2002, by taking the strong step to build a hostel. The foundation stone was layed and was blessed.

Educational Apostolate:

One year 1999 sisters stayed in Beed. Sr. Anjala spend her precious time in teaching in St. Anns school, Sr. Leena was getting acquainted in the medical field and Sr. Hilda assisting in the pastoral work. Practically every day sisters were on the move to attend village masses and the mobile clinic. Transportation was difficult for sisters to make daily up and down (Beed- Georai). Meanwhile on June 18, 2000, sisters were shifted to rented house in Georai.
The villages of Georai Taluka are in the interiors and it becomes very difficult for the children to benefit in education since most of the Government Schools and Private Schools are in the town proper. The main aim of our mission was to educate the girl child which was very much neglected, since women and girls belonged to the lower strata of the society. Many a time’s girls were educated up to the 5th grade and then settled in marriage at the minor age of 16 or 17. Seeing the plight of these girls, the sisters in collaboration with the SJ’s made arrangement to cater to the needs of the girls from different villages to stay and send to educate them in nearby school.
June 26, 2000 is indeed an unforgettable day when the flame of knowledge lit for the first time in the history of Georai. The humble beginning of the Marathi Medium School saw the light of day in a rented hall. The day was filled with joy as 45 poor tiny tots were enrolled in first grade.
On 26/6/2000, was the inauguration of the St. Xavier’s Primary School for Marathi Medium. Sr. Anjala was appointed as the First Principal of the school. She took keen interest to bring up the school stage by stage. She admitted the poorest of the poor and thought them the basics. On April 4, 2002 got the permission for Balwadi. Fr. James Shilke, Sr. Janet, Mary Anto (St. Ann’s) accompanied by Mr. Badam Rao Pandit who took special interest to guide the sisters to get permission at Mantralaya, the permission was obtained on July 9,2004. On 4/12/2000 we had the joy of receiving the good news of the school permission.
23-11-2002 applied for the 5th to 10th standard in particular for bilingual On May 1, 2002 the new house at Georai was blessed. The teachers, boarding girls and sisters were residing in the same building for two years. In the year 2004 the two hostels, a separate one for the girls and the boys was ready and the process of shifting the resident took place. On July 1, 2002 a KG section started to support the Marathi medium school was another important feature of the mission at Georai. Mr. Hiralal Kedari took lot of trouble in getting the permission. Mr. Bairagi from education department helped us to get the permission.
On Nov 29,2003 sisters applied for the permission for 5th to 10th grade. A Dark day had dawned in the lives of sisters approached on May 2, 2008, where Sr. Irene had to lay the school office in the hands of the Jesuit father. All their hard work struggles were in vain. They didn’t have the privilege of enjoying the fruits of their hard labour.
Development in the Hostel:

In the initial stages sisters were incharge of both boys and girls hostel. Total administration was met by them since the priests were staying in Beed. The provision was made to educate the children of sugarcane cutters. Sisters were encouraging the girls to go to the nearest school, helping the weaker students to cope with the studies through special classes. They were provided emotional and psychological support through personal talks, counseling, meeting their parents time to time. Opportunities were created to develop their skill, talents and intelligence, gardening, cooking and cleaning by conducting competitions, outings in order to attract them towards education and to make them responsible and efficient adults. All around development of the girls physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional needs are met. We were fortunate to find some generous sponsors to support the financial condition of the hostel and for their future studies. Even today we cater to many young girls from 1st to 12th grade, all those who show interest in studies.

Medical Apostolate:

As there is no Christian presence and a Christian hospital in the whole district of Beed we the congregation of sisters of St. Charles Borromeo with the co-operation of the Jesuit Priests of Pune Province wanted to open a medical mission in Georai Taluka of Beed district. During the village masses the medical work comprised of the mobile clinic to take care of the health needs of sick and suffering, visiting the families. Due to lack of proper health clinic the health of the poor, marginalized and downtrodden were neglected. Hence the sisters conducted mobile clinics in small huts or under the tree in different villages at a distance of 50-70km from Georai.

13-10-2002 the arrival of Dr.Sr. Regina Suares was agreat boon for the mission station. The mobile clinic met the needs of the sick in different villages and Sister Irene Lewis the staff nurse. Besides visiting the villages one room in the new convent opposite to the chapel was assigned for the dispensary which functioned as a mini hospital, conducting deliveries and taking care of the sick.
In response to the growing medical needs of poor sick people of Georai the foundation stone of Navjeevan hospital was blessed on 30-12-2003. Construction work was started on 12-03 2004 and building agreement was signed on 19th of April of same year. The blessing and the inauguration of Navjeevan hospital was on Jan21, 2005. Oct 17, 2007 the auspicious day for the Navjeevan hospital on which the hospital was registered under Bombay Nursing Home. On April 11, 2007 was the inauguration of Training center which has named under Navajeevan Mahila Gramin Kendra.Under the leadership of Sr. Sindhu Mathew on May 2,2011the Health Aid Training saw the new beginning for the young girls, specially the dropouts and those unable to cope with their studies. The generosity of Miss. Monica, Mr. Harry and Nadine the new OT and Laboratory was inaugurated on Jan 11, 20012. The compound wall for the hospital was build on March 18, 2018 in order to protect and safe guard the surrounding area.
Social Apostolate:

Sr. Janet D’Souza took the initiative in forming Mahila Mandals and developmental works. April 22, 2003 was the blessing of the goatery a pilot project of “stole feeding goats” in view of helping the women in the Mahila Mandals. The Government too appreciated the hard work of Sr. Janet and on Feb 12. 2004 the Pnchayat Samiti allotted more villages to start self-help groups (SHG) among the BPL groups.

Through socio-economic activities the women are empowered to be independent. Conducting tailoring classes also was one of the felt needs of the young girls and women who by which could get their sources of income. On Feb 15, 2004 the DRDA, District rural development Association gave as 17 more villages to prepare BPL groups.
With the generosity of the benefactors many villages were able to see for the first time the toilets in their own houses. It was indeed a great achievement in this particular area where people never felt the need to use toilets. Sheep raring was another important work started in the villages, through which women could hold respectful place in their family because it brought about lot of income to the family. To collaborate networking with Government and non government organization, empower the poor by giving awareness through formal and non-formal education and tuition classes for the poor children. Social awareness programs for women and children were organized to fight for their rights. Net working with ADSS on PLE and health issues of women and children. Farmers groups were formed and linked with government to avail schemes. To save and arrest water in their own land farm fond were made with the help of Government schemes in five villages. Giving training to start poultry, silk worm cultivation sheep raring and petty shops. A vast difference is sensed from a sister working with the people
Pastoral Apostolate:
Sisters participate in the Eucharistic Celebrations, assist in the preparation for the liturgy, religious functions, teaching catechism to the First Holy Communicants, preparing candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation and organizing camps. Oct. 11, 2003 was a red letter day in the church of Georai. On that day at the Georai Yatra of Our Lady of Rosary a first time event in Georai, 70 children and adults from various villages were administered the Sacrament of Confirmation. Again on Dec.15, 20015, sisters prepared candidates for First Holy Communion and on Dec. 15, 2016, fifty seven candidates were prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Sisters are actively involved in the parish activities continue to attend village mass. October is a month of Our Lady of Rosary; we have the privilege to visit the families and pray with them practically every day of the month.
Times of Trails: A step towards Growth:
No community grows without times of trails and difficulties, times of poverty, persecution, tension and internal and external struggles. Times which destroy its balance and reveals its weakness. Times of difficulties which are inevitable when a new step has to be taken.
May 25, 2005: Meeting with the Jesuit Provincial Fr. Stan at Pune. Srs. Damian and Sheila came from Bangalore, Srs, Janet and Regina Suares from Georai. The purpose was to clarify matters before the transfer of Fr. Shelke who had initiated our mission. Fr. Stan showed the master plan and informed that the Christian Brothers will be coming to Georai to collaborate in the education and in the social work.
Dec. 12, 2005: The community experienced a lot of tension as the school was falsely accused, and these accusations published in the newspapers.
The sisters had to face misunderstanding with change of management. As the staff was not given increment in their salary, they caused a lot of harm to the studies and other activities of the children. The new manager (a Jesuit) was nowhere on the scene and it was difficult to take any independent decisions because the sisters are working in collaboration with the Jesuit management.
The struggles and difficult times continue to follow the sisters even today. The convent agreement is not renewed since from 2013. Therefore sisters are unable to take any further steps to implement any work independently.
Georai is a special mission station where it involves all apostolate. We are happy to continue this mission with all the ups and downs of life. We keep moving; believing in God who has called us will lead us.