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  Church creates jobs  
  By Saji Thomas, Sagar

A CHURCH program in central India is harnessing government schemes to help jobless people find work and improve lives in poverty-stricken villages.

Dinesh Kumar Namdev, from the Syro-Malabar rite Sagar diocese in Madhya Pradesh state, said a year ago poverty forced him and several others to think of withdrawing their children from schools.

That was when the diocese was encouraging unemployed people to join three self help groups it had formed.

The Church registered each group with a local government body to help them get a subsidized loan of 360,000 rupees (US$7,610), Namdev said.

Each group comprising 12-20 members, invested in brick-kilns, Yadav, the co-coordinator of the groups told ucanews.com on July 21.

"Now we have enough food to eat and money for our children's education," says Ramesh Chaurasia, a Hindu member of one group.

Chaurasia said although their villages have no Christians, the Church worked like an agent in bringing together jobless laborers.

The groups paid back the loan within a year and are enjoying new-found independence.

"Now whatever we earn will further improve our living standards," Chaurasia said.

The project's animator Khemchand Yadav said the Church has helped villagers understand the positive nature of the Church's work, which aims to help people better themselves.

"People were initially skeptical about it but are very receptive now," he said.

The state has witnessed several anti-Christian attacks in the past following allegations of conversion by Hindu extremists, who still maintain that the Church's social programs are a front for conversion work.

Father Shaju Devasy, who directs the project, said many are unaware of government schemes for people's welfare and the Church's efforts are directed "to helping people know about these schemes."
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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