Anna Irbe Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Foundation Creating Caring communities in Tamil Nadu.
Reverend G and Mrs Mabel Stephen, fourth generation Christians, joined her, working together for 14 years. Together they developed an holistic Christian centre with afarm producing all necessary provisions, Homes for children and elderly residents, an elementary school with Mrs Mabel Stephen as principal, a Primary Health care centre and attached compounder (pharmacy) with Anna Irbe as head nurse and with Outreach, Spiritual, Educational and Special needs work in the surrounding villages.
Anna Irbe Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Foundation Creating Caring Communities amongst all castes and creeds.
In 1933, Anna Irbe, daughter of Bishop Karlis Irbe, of Riga, Latvia, started a Mission Station in the Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu.
Rev. G and Mrs. Mabel Stephen, fourth generation Christians, joined her, working together for 14 years. They established an holistic Christian centre with a working farm, Homes for children and old people, as well as Primary health care and Outreach spiritual educational and social work in the surrounding villages.
In1938 Dr Feldmanis, the Latvian Mission secretary, visited this unique Swedish-Latvian-Indian community.
He wrote:” the message of love was preached to the villagers in the context of their lives.”
In 1968 Reverend G Stephen, now 60, with the active support of Anna Irbe, who wrote to exiled Latvians in USA, established the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church mission in the Tiruchy and Cuddalore Districts in some of the poorest areas, of Tamil Nadu.
His aim was to address the needs of these poor. To this end he organised adult literacy classes, primary medical care, children’s homes and junior schools in 15 villages in Tholudur and Kaludur ares after meeting with village Panchayat leaders.
After Reverend Stephen’s death his daughter Janaki Violet Stephen continued to organise the work of addressing the changing needs of the village people. E.g. the medical teams stopped because the Tamil Government opened health clinics with resident nurses in most villages and built a 50 bed hospital in Tholudur
In 2013 work continues in 10 villages in the Mangalore Block of the Cuddalore district, one of the poorest areas in Tamil Nadu and comprises:
1. 10 Churches with congregations. The Churches are the focus of Communities, holding communal congregation meals on feast days thus breaking through barriers of caste. Churches are used for evening homework tuition classes and women's meetings as well as Sunday Services, daily early morning prayers, and all night prayers.
2. Churches conduct counselling work in the form of healing prayer groups which visit homes comforting people and combating fear of hospital operations or evil spirits, helping sick and despairing persons, especially Aids patients, in 11 villages.
Our aim is to develop responsible self supporting communities.
3. Boys home in Kalpoondi village, for 21 boys aged between 4 and 16 from destitute, violent, or one parent families. They receive a healthy diet; have supervised homework each evening, with an emphasis on moral values and social skills in a family atmosphere. This last year Anbuselvan was sent back to hospital in Vhirradachalam because of reoccurring effects of a snake bite; AILELC paid for a scan and continuing treatment for Karthik, diagnosed with a brain tumour, all the boys were given boots and socks for football, and daily practice held.
4.Evening Homework tuition classes were started because children had nowhere at their homes to sit and study in good light: there are 8 classes, in 6 villages, held from Monday to Saturday in Churches, in teachers homes, under street lights on side roads or under trees. As well as speaking, reading and writing in Tamil and English, the aims are to develop conversation, knowledge of Mathematics, tables and general knowledge. There is an emphasis on good manners and respect for elders. Drawing and painting, song, dance and public speaking are also a part of their learning. Some children have won prizes in village cultural functions.
The supervisors are women who have passed 10th standard and are still at home either as wives or waiting for marriage. Roselyn, wife of Evangelist Amose, who was a teacher Training College lecturer holds a monthly all day training course on a Saturday at the Mabel Stephen Women’s centre. These monthly instuction days also are group couselling meetings where the women discuss their private problems.
The Women are paid Rs 1000 per month. It is noted that children who attend these evening homework classes gain higher marks in school examinations than children from the same village who do nor attend.
5. The Mabel Stephen Centenary Women’s Trust was established in 2010 in memory of Violet Stephen’s mother: Violet Stephen was saddened by the regular suicides of village women, mainly young wives, and bought land and registered the trust, with AILELC workers as trustees and Roselyn and Amose in charge, to administer women’s care in the AILELC area. In spite of financing difficulties slowing development the Trust has saved young women from killing themselves.
6. Sewing Classes are held in the Mabel Stephen Centre. Razia, a Muslim lady in UK who wishes to help village women towards independence, has funded two sewing machines, the monthly payment for an instructor, cloth for learning, a cutting table, needles and incidental requirements, so women in two villages can earn money with new skills .
These classes also give women a gathering point to talk about their personal problems and share experiences
7. The Workers have, over the years, had training sessions with Arch-Bishop Rozitis from Latvia who visited in 1999, Reverend Talivaldis Smits from USA on his visits as Mission Director in 1996 and 2009, TELC Bishop Johnson of India in 2007 and 2008 and regular instruction from Reverend Gints Polis of Latvia during his visits starting from 2011. These sessions dealt with theological studies, personal development and relating with people inside and from outside India.
As well as these instruction sessions, First Aid, hygiene and yoga classes were held, lead by a qualified English nursing Matron, and workers have attended demonstration days on a neighbouring Organic farm set up by English and Indian associates of AILELC
Identification number: 40008224954
Account Nr.: LV85 HABA 0551 0550 3347 4
Legal address: "Kalnozoli"