Here are some words from Dayalan Devanesen from Roofs for the Roofless in Chennai. We celebrate the opening of his new building in spite of heat and water scarcity. I first met his parents as poets nearly thirty years ago. On paper — thin blue international letters — do you remember them? His mother sent the poetry of his father who had already died and I published them in the book “Gifts of Many Cultures — Worship Resources for the Global Community.” Only later did I continue receiving her work and was able to include it in the book “Gifts in Open Hands — More Worship for the Global Community,” from which this blog was born.
Even more, I am also so very aware of the poetry of lives changed by housing and schooling and training and encouragement — now of whole generations of people.
In the work of this organization Roofs for the Roofless, born in this family’s heart and sacrifice and pain and joy, the words of the justice seekers and compassion sharers of the world has become flesh.
Read Dr. Devanesen’s words and watch these faces sharing this very local and very world changing celebration.
I have attached a large number of photos especially for the Committee to get a good picture of the great function we had at CDRCC on 1 July 2019. It was good that David and Pratap were able to participate. We were also happy Dr. Joshua Kalapati ( Prof. Philosophy MCC) and Dr. Ninan John attended. Ninan John played a very active role in the Rural Service League and other rural development activities when Roofs Founder was Principal of MCC. He also worked with Roofs and his company constructed the Chandran Devanesen Community Centre in Vengaivasal village. Dr Kalapati thoughtfully brought some chocolates to distribute to the new batch of students.
Emmanuel was the Master of Ceremonies for the whole function. The first part was the Opening of the New Classroom. A prayer song was sung by the students followed by readings from the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita and the Koran. Fr. Xavier Alphonse then unveiled the Commemorative Plaque and Dedicated the Classroom before cutting the ceremonial ribbon to declare that it was open. Inside the classroom the Kuttuvillaku was lit by Fr. Alphonse, Roofs Committee Members, representatives from the large group of parents , CDRCC staff and a group of new students.
Chairman David then took time thanking the many people involved in the project. A shawl was placed on the chief building mason and gifts were presented to him and the other workers. One of the special guests representing our Industrial Partners in AC Mechanics Mr. K. Vishu from KV Refrigeration was honoured with a ‘ponnadai’.( It is a very special feature of Community Colleges to build relationships with local industries to ensure employment) The Chairman thanked Mr Murali the AC Mechanic Teacher who had provided a lot of advice and helped with the supervision. He thanked Mr. Sekar and Mr. Jayakumar for being present to oversight the work even on weekends. The Chairman took time praising and thanking Mr. Emmanuel for his outstanding effort which involved not only planning the design and construction but also purchasing materials and utilising bricks and tiles from the old classroom to save costs. He and driver Kannadasan made many many trips in the hot sun bringing materials from Chennai to Karanai. David also thanked the Glen Abbey Church for their generous contribution. The Chairman of the Glen Abby Outreach Fund Committee has already seen some of the photos and mailed that, ‘the building looks great’. The building also has a storeroom and a very nice guest toilet.
Everyone then moved to the main classroom where the guests and members were introduced and gave brief messages to the students. Joshua Kalapatti gave an interesting anecdote. When he was putting together his major work on the history of Madras Christian College one of the ladies at the printing press was most helpful and organised the many photos he had. Out of interest he asked her where she had studied and was amazed to find out that it was none other than CDRCC!
Fr Xavier was honoured with a ‘ponnadai’ by the Chairman, a memento with his picture and a small donation from Roofs to ICRDCE in recognition of his 50 Years of Religious Life and contribution to the Community College movement.
Fr. Xavier then totally in his element addressed the students and the parents in a very animated discussion about Life Skills, Work Skills and Employment. He ended with getting the students to chant with him President Abdul Kalam’s statement about making dreams come true for the individual, the family, the community and the nation.
May your dreams come true.