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Refuge from the cold


When winter in New Delhi freezes the very marrow, there are warm hearts who open wide their doors, to welcome in the homeless.

Homeless people sleeping on the pavements in metro cities are a common sight and New Delhi is no exception. The Government as well as society at large have ignored the plight of these people. Even in the bitter cold winter nights they have no shelter.

The city's St. Columba's school has come up with a noble initiative of providing night shelter to the homeless. Father Ravinder Jain of the school says, last year when he saw a number of people living on the roads, some of them, daily wage earners and beggars, including women and children, he was very moved by their condition. He then approached many government and non-government organisations but in vain. He finally approached the principal of St. Columba's and was granted permission to use the classrooms of the school as night shelters.

It started in November last year with only 20 women and children and within three months, increased to 640. People of all age groups get free food, medication and counselling. More than a shelter, this place helps them learn to love, care and be concerned about others. They start understanding the importance of dignity and have a sense of belonging, which were so far alien to them. Father Ravinder says, these people soon started developing respect for their peripheral environment and started to recognise their inborn abilities and talents.

"One of the children in the shelter has the unique talent of being able to sing in many Indian languages," adds Father Ravinder.

He says volunteers of different faiths come to offer help - a paradigm, which shows that everybody can work hand in hand with each other for a better society. What's more is that the St. Columba's school is trying to rope in government and private schools of the city to accommodate more and more such needy people. They have so far approached Modern School, St. Carmel School and Jesus and Mary College and looking out for possibilities of employing these homeless people.

Father Ravinder adds, "Unless we have solidarity with others we can not change the society.

He repeats one of Mother Teresa's sayings, " whatever you do for others, sacrifice should be there". Do not we all nod in agreement?

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