Home / Region + Country Categories  / Asia & Oceania  / South Asia  / India  / INDIA: Sisters shelter girls in face of ethnic violence

INDIA: Sisters shelter girls in face of ethnic violence

Sneha Bhavan is a girls orphanage in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur

Salesian orphanage among 29 centers supported by Homes of Hope


(MissionNewswire) Sneha Bhavan is a girls orphanage in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur and is directed by Salesian Sister Tresa Karottukunnel. Her congregation started the orphanage more than 30 years ago to provide a home for women and children in difficult situations. The orphanage is among 29 centers supported by Homes of Hope, an international organization of volunteers, according to an article in the Global Sisters Report.

The Homes of Hope centers were founded by an American philanthropist couple, Paul and Tracy Wilkes. In India, the organization works with eight women religious congregations including the Salesians, Congregation of Mother Camel, Franciscan Clarists, Holy Spirit, St. Anne, Holy Cross, Jesus Mary Joseph and Sisters of Mary Help of Christians.

These centers provide a home and a new life for hundreds of orphaned, abandoned or trafficked girls. The Salesian Sneha Bhavan orphanage is also providing a refuge from the violence raging outside of the center. According to the article, ethnic violence began on May 3 in Manipur between the Meitei community, Hindus and the majority community of the state, and the Kuki, a minority tribe who are mostly Christians.

Since then, nearly 200 civilians, mostly Kukis, have been killed in the violence. Many churches and villages were also burned. The violence was still going on the last week of September 2023 when staff from the Global Sisters Report visited the area.

The girls inside of the Sneha Bhavan orphanage feel safe. Anjali Khouchung, a 12-year-old resident and a member of the Naga, a minority tribe in Manipur that is not involved in the conflict, told the Global Sisters Report, “Not that we are not affected by the violence, but we feel safe and secure here. Our sisters take good care of us here.”

According to Global Sisters Report, the Salesian sisters had to send the Kuki students back from the center in Imphal for security reasons. The sisters continued to take care of the orphaned Kuki children in refugee camps through outreach programs.

Sister Karot told the Global Sisters Report, “We are saddened at the continuing violence in Manipur. We painfully had to send back our Kuki children after the riots erupted.” The Indian army escorted those children to safer locations and handed them over to their relatives. Sr. Karot added, “Others are really scattered, some stay with their relatives, some live in relief camps and others are taken care of by other sisters.”

The Homes of Hope centers support orphanages, schools and empowerment centers throughout India. According to the article, they serve youth who have been abandoned, orphans with AIDS, those with disabilities, survivors of sexual exploitation, marginalized tribes, and victims of domestic bonded slavery and communal riots.

Sr. Karot told Global Sisters Report that parents of many girls in Sneha Bhavan had died of substance abuse or HIV/AIDS. “We have been running a short-stay home for such victims, and many children were referred from there.”

In addition to all the work provided for these at-risk and marginalized populations, Homes of Hope also supports the Auxilium Skills Training Center run by the Salesian sisters. The center shelters abandoned women and provides them skills training.

Salesian Sister Jubil Maria, who manages the training center, told Global Sisters Report that they conduct a three-month diploma program with a government-prescribed syllabus for village women.

“Homes of Hope has sponsored our training center and the hostel, and the Meghalaya government supports us with the running cost,” said Sr. Maria, who has managed the center since 2010 and was quoted in the Global Sisters Report article. She noted that they more than 4,000 women, who are mostly poor and dropouts, in tailoring, fashion designing, computer, beauty and housekeeping.



Global Sisters Report – Sisters in India shelter rescued girls amid ethnic conflict in Manipur

National Catholic Register – Sisters in India shelter rescued girls amid ethnic conflict in Manipur

Salesian Missions – India

author avatar