11 Sep Faith in Action at Senior School RE Retreat
“Nobody ever visits us. Your presence in coming was enough,” said the coordinator at the small disability centre at Herbertpur Hospital, one of several projects Woodstock students visited during the recent Fall RE retreat at Rajpur Christian Centre.
The trips coincided with Woodstock’s Service Learning Day, with students going to organisations around Dehradun including Cheshire Homes which cares for the physically and mentally disabled, Sharp Blind School for the visually impaired, and the Sneha project which provides education and healthcare for slum children.
Other students led music workshops at the Moravian School in Rajpur while another group went to Navdanya, an organisation committed to protecting and conserving plants and animals that form the basis of sustainable agriculture.
More than 60 students and staff attended this year’s retreat which explored the theme “Inside Out”, based on the verses in Acts 20:35, which say using our gifts and abilities in caring for the weak and vulnerable should be a focus we maintain through life.
Kaaren Mathias, Woodstock parent and board member and doctor with the Emmanuel Hospital Association, was one of the speakers at the retreat. She urged students and staff to get involved with the poor and marginalised in society, as an outpouring of their Christian faith.
She highlighted the problems faced by disabled people in India, many of whom face enormous prejudice and stigma, through an activity called the “Game of Life”.
The other guest speaker, Jubin Varghese, Project Manager of the disability programme at Herbertpur Hospital, challenged students with the question: “Do we see? Do we see past the disability and impairment and see the person and the human being?”
Through personal stories, the exposition of scripture and the creative use of videos she explained that as Jesus touched, healed and welcomed people on the margins of society, we too had a similar responsibility. Superstition, prejudice and discrimination can be dismantled by committed young people with passion, compassion and energy.
Nutritious food for the body, as well as times of singing and worship which strengthened the soul left all with the desire to make a difference in our world.
Ed Beavan, Communications Associate at Woodstock, said he was inspired to do more to help the marginalised by the talks on the retreat and the visit to Cheshire Homes.
“It was really good to go and interact with a group of people who we’d never normally meet. I thought the students did really well, by playing games, drawing and just chatting to the people there, they were able to show Christ’s love to these folks who rarely receive visitors.”
Watch a video by student Bendix Kemmann on the visit to Cheshire Homes here.