“It is not easy to be a teacher.  To answer the call,  to give unstintingly of body, mind, heart and soul; to expect little by way of material gain…and yet it is a call that so many  continue to answer knowing that the only real reward lies where one’s heart does”, Wendy M. Dickson, Editor, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Indian Teachers.

On April 20, 2017, The Andrean Social Service Centre pulled down its shutters bringing to closure a 36-year-old ministry committed to providing academic assistance to underprivileged children of the area.  The Centre has provided free tutorials, medical aid, nutrition, uniforms, study material, counselling services and an annual treat for the students.

We thank the generosity of donors and many volunteers—homemakers, students and retired professionals, for their tireless efforts and commitment to uplift the underprivileged child every day of the week. It has been an ongoing labour of love and an act of selfless giving through the years.

Following is the closing speech by Yvonne Rozario, Co-ordinator of the Andrean Social Service Centre:

“Your Lordship Bishop John, our dear Fathers and Sisters, who have always encouraged us, and Friends.

There is a time and a place for everything—a time to begin and a time to end. The time has now come to pull down the shutters after 36 fruitful years. In February 1981, when our then Parish Priest, Mgr. Hilary Rodrigues asked us to reach out to the underprivileged of our Parish, little did we realize in which direction Nenita Tenefrancia of the Theresian Association and Marie Rodrigues of the Legion of Mary, would lead us.

From sitting on boulders under the trees, to the nearby Auxillium Convent, to St. Andrew’s School, to our final destination here at the St. Andrew’s School shed. We have travelled a long way; have walked the same path as some outstanding personalities who have inspired us, and interacted with hundreds of bright and intelligent children who have now sent their own children to the ASSC.

At one of the earliest discussions, Fr. Eddie D’Souza explained that the road from their present thatched abodes to the adjacent high-rise buildings was education. This motivated many to reach heights, never dreamed of before—teachers, lawyers, architects, computer engineers, social workers, interior designers, sportsmen and many more.

The invitation from Sr. Bernadina, who later became the Superior General of the Ursuline Sisters, to work with the Holy Family Hospital Community Health Centre, now, Navjeet, with Dr. Ancilla Tragler, enabled our students to have regular medical checks and care when required. They also funded teachers, before our own volunteer force swelled to its present count of 47.  Sr. Kusum, Provincial, of the Ursuline Sisters, sends her best wishes to all.

Benefactors from across the seas, sponsored mosquito nets, rainwear, uniforms, books, nutritious supplements and much more.  Collecting from individual donors and car booth sales, they were also able to cover the medical expenses of some of the children. The Adult Literacy programme too, profited from their generosity.

Don’t you wonder who has benefitted the most at the Andrean Social Service Centre? You can find the answer on the faces of our dedicated volunteers. Each one has received more satisfaction and contentment than words can say.

My fellow teachers and volunteers can only thank each other for the marvelous bond we shared—our desire to lift these young children who came to us, to a height beyond their expectations and to prepare them to face a challenging world.

We are grateful to all in authority who gave us this unique opportunity. It is impossible to mention the extraordinary impact each one has had on the well-being of this venture.  Everyone present here, knows how you have contributed to the growth and existence of the Andrean Social Service Centre and all our members say a heartfelt “Thank You”. Without your unstinting help, our road would have been rough and difficult to cross.

We thank you parents for entrusting your children to our care and together we thank God for the fruits of our efforts. Lastly, dear students and ex-students, you have taught us, as much as we have taught you and we know you will continue to uphold the values you have imbibed. The very fact that our ex-students have shown so much enthusiasm, gives us hope that this ministry will carry on in some form or the other”.

A few of the many messages of gratitude from past and present students:

Deepak Kawde: I joined ASSC in the year 2009 and learnt many different things besides studies. ASSC teaches us values like discipline, manners and humanism. The teachers kept us motivated.  Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy.

Kavita Kusalkar: I have completed my M.Com and at present am working as Childline Contact Officer in Childline India foundation, an N.G.O. that helps children who are in distress.  Thank you teachers of the ASSC for being my guides and friends.  You inspired me to help others.

Shila Sutre: I do not know how God placed me in this Centre. I received the best education from my role models.  Without you, I would not be successful in my career as a teacher.

Volunteer Staff Member: Over the years, I began to understand the reason beyond the chain of events that led me to that classroom for the underprivileged.  In His Time, he taught me to see beyond myself, to hear the unspoken message and to understand heartache other than my own.

— Beryl Pinto