Capuchin computer center serves Hindus, Christians in Kandhamal

Bhubaneswar (Santhosh Digal – Matters India): Capuchin priests have started a computer coaching center for Hindus and Christians at village in the Kandhamal district of Odisha state in eastern India.

“Our aim is to impart computer skills to youth belonging to Hindu and Christian community,” Fr Gregory Jena, principal of St. Mary’s School and director of St Mary’s Computer Centre at Barakhama, told Matters India.

The area had witnessed the worst anti-Christian violence in the history of modern India seven years ago. The Capuchin priest said the center will empower young people with computer skills and promote peace and harmony.

“We hope our goals will be achieved in positive way and help society grow in productive way. Students and youth are the future catalysts of change and goodness,” the priest added.

Nearly 100 people were killed and more than 50,000 others were rendered homeless in the four-month long violence triggered by the murder of a Hindu nationalist leader on August 23, 2008. Tension still prevails in several parts of the district with rightwing Hindu groups opposing Christians’ reentry.

Fr4 Jena said their new center will help young people from both the communities get some jobs and open new avenues for higher studies, besides bringing the two communities together.

Barakhama is a remote village’ some 270 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, the state capital. It has majority Hindus and less than a hundred Christian families.

The village has a high school and a college, 12 km away. More than 100 students from the village and surrounding areas study either in high school or in the college.

Barakhama also witnessed anti-Christian persecution in 2007 and 2008.

Capuchins have been working in the area since 2002. This is their second place of work in Kandhamal. The other center is at Simonbadi under Daringbadi block where they manage a parish.

Fr Jena said they have been trying to heal the wounds of past violence, by resolving the differences and animosity that have created deep-seated hurt feelings in both communities. Programs such as computer skill training would help students and youth from two communities interact with each other. This will in turn inculcate the spirit of tolerance, peace and reconciliation, he added.

The center has already procured five desk top computer units, and enrollment is going on since October 1. The center plans to appoint a couple of computer teachers. Two Capuchin priests assigned to the place would also assist the computer center.

Fr Jena hopes to start the classes by the end of October. The priests have subsidized the training for all students.

“There is lots of eagerness among the students and youth for the computer training skills,” Fr. Jena added.

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