The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo

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

Bidar, Muchalamba


The Geographical Setting of Gulbarga:
GUL in Persian language means ‘flower’ and BARG means ‘leaf’. ‘Gulbarga’ therefore means a leaf along with a flower. Gulbarga was formerly called ‘Kalburgi’ which in kannada means ‘land of stones’ or ‘heap of stones’. Gulbarga is around 200kms.west of Hyderbad and around 600 kms. North of  Bangalore.
The Chronological Significance of Bidar:
Gulbarga has the famous fort, the Basaveshwara temple and Khaja Bande Nawaaz Muslim monument. The Bidar Fort, one among the seven largest forts in the Country, was the capital of Bahmani Kingdom.The magnificent Gurudhwara in Bidar town is a shrine and an important holy place of the Sikhs in India.
The ‘Bidri Art’ of Bidar, which found the patronage of the Mughal Kings, is very attractive and popular. Further, the entire region has its original contribution in the field Lambani dance, Kolata, Bhajan singing and folk songs.

The majority of the people in this part of the state is poor. They live on daily wages. Unfortunately, people do not get work all through the year. In many places, people do not have work even for six months a year. The land and property belong to the rich landlords while the majority is poor and land-less people.

The society is divided into watertight compartments by the rigid caste system. Discrimination on the basis of caste still prevails and untouchability is in vogue. The dalits are getting organized by embracing Buddhism. Dr. Ambedkar, who is revered as God by the dalits is an icon of liberation.
The Importance of Agriculture:

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of this region. However, the irregularity of monsoon causes hardships to the people and they are frequently faced with drought. Jower, rice, wheat, cereals,oil-seeds,vegetables ,sugarcane and spices are grown in the entire region.Food habits of the people in the entire region consist mainly of jowar roti, rice and dal. Various cereals also form part of the diet, which is comparatively spicy.

The Industrial Signnificance:

Bidar,Gulbarga,Yadgiri and Bijapur all these four districts of the diocese are figuring among thr 200 most backward districts in the country.The entire region of North Karnataka comprising of Bidar ,Gulbarga and Bijapur are known as the Hyderbad- Karnataka region. In spite of all the efforts, this region remains most backward in the state of Karnataka. Migration of people takes place from these districts when the land is successively afflicted by drought.

A Brief History of the Diocese:

The Gulbarga Diocese was created on June 24, 2005, the feast of St. John the Baptist. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, announced the creation of the Diocese of Gulbarga comprising of the three districts of North Karnataka,i.e Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur.His Holiness also announced Rev. Fr. Robert Miranda, the Episcopal Vicar of the Bidar Mission ,a pioneer missionary and a worthy pastor, to be the first Bishop of the Diocese of Gulbarga. The Diocese of Gulbarga is carved out of the three Dioceses: Hyderbad, Belgaum and Bellary. At present District of Yadgiri also included in Gulbarga diocese.

The Reaching Out:

The Bidar Mission was adopted by the Diocese of Mangalore in June 1982. Some Congregations accepted the invitation of the late Bishop, Most.Rev. Basil S. D’souza to work in this challenging region. Then Provincial Superior-Sr.Bernadine Fernandez, the councilors and the formators were inspired by the missionary focus of formation given by Fr. Jerry Rosario,S.J. in 2002, the province promptly responded to the motivation and the invitation of the Bishop. The sisters are grateful to Fr. Victor Machado, the mission guide who gave the necessary direction and the thrust.

The Venture:
The Bishop of Mangalore, Rt.Rev. Dr. Aloysius Paul D`Souza, blessed this venture on July 18, 2002. This house came into existence as formation in mission for the Junior Sisters of the Western Province. Sr. Bernadine Fernandez, the then Provincial Superior, was pleased to send the sisters to Muchalamba. Her primary objective was to give a missionary formation to the sisters in a rural set-up. The first batch comprised of Sr. Vinaya as Superior, and the Junior Sisters Sr.Smitha D’Silva, Sr.Gladys Pasanna, Sr. Mabel D`Silva, Sr.Angeline D`Souza and Sr. Elizabeth Leo.
The People of Muchalamba:

Muchalamba is the Dalit Village in the Basavakalyan Taluk of Bidar district, Karnataka. It is the north of Karnataka, on the border of Maharashtra and Andra Pradesh. It is an under-developed area. It has a population of 10,000.People here are caste conscious with the superior castes oppressing the lower castes. It is an non- Christian village. One catholic family, the sisters and the priests here are the only Catholics. Most people here live below the poverty line, working as daily- wage laborers in the fields.

The Preliminary Days:

Since there was not the infrastructure required to start a centre in this area, it was then decided to begin the activities from a rented house. Mr. Madappa`s family from Muchalamba came forward to arrange a rented house there. Fr. Victor Machado, who, till then was working in Bhalki centre, started the work of the new centre by staying in a rented house at Muchalamba from February 13,2002.After staying in the rented house, Fr. Victor Machado started faith formation and developmental works in Muchalamba and the surrounding villages. With the help of social workers from the ORBIT, he started women`s Self-Help Groups. He also bought a piece of land for constructing a chapel. However, the Buddhist (SC) leaders objected to his stay in this colony alleging that he was indulging in conversions. Hence, Fr. Victor Machado shifted his residence to a house belonging to the Madiga community.

The Plodding Expansion of the Centre:

Soon after their arrival, the sisters took up tuition programmes for children, tailoring for young girls, Alcoholic Anonymous programmes ,youth activities, visiting the villages for faith formation and organizing children`s groups in the neighboring villages.

As the year passed, the centre saw the change of activities and personnel.Sr. Juliet, the next superior, through her regular visits to Hulsoor and the surrounding areas, strengthened the initial contacts started by the Kaudiyal team with Hulsoor. Two sisters from the community started staying in a rented house in this area and began to reach out in compassion with great zeal.

Free Coaching Classes for Children:

The sisters at Muchalamba started coaching classes from 2002 for about 150 to180 boys who were mainly shepherds and other children, both drop-outs and school going. Students studying in Government schools are given coaching in the English language, Mathematics, Science and other subjects. The classes are conducted before and after school hours. The older boys and girls have spoken English classes. This has shown a lot of improvement in the children.

Empowerment of Women through Self Help Groups and Girl's Boarding:

At present there are twenty one Self Help Groups (SHG), in six villages, which are aimed at the empowerment of women. Through regular weekly awareness classes, they are made to realize their rights, the importance of education, self- employment, health, role in politics and savings. They are also helped to tap loans from the various Government Schemes. Young girls attend these classes. A teacher is employed and one of the sisters assists the girls. They are given opportunities to be self-reliant through tailoring. We had 10 to 20 girl Children’s boarding for few years and 2019 shifted to Hulsoor since both the communities were merged.

The Pastoral Care: We the sisters along with the parish priest visit the faith formation villages daily. We conduct Bhajane Service and Bible sharing. We have 12 faith formation villages, In each villages we have one,two, three or four catholic families total 18 families.