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The Philanthropic Society of the Orthodox Church (PSOC)
Established in 1993, the Philanthropic Society of the Orthodox Church (PSOC) is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) registered by the government of West Bengal, India.
Our purpose is to help individuals and families facing poverty and destitution in and around the city of Kolkata (Calcutta), regardless of tradition or personal creed. We work to improve the lives of those shunned by society, those who are orphaned, widowed, handicapped, homeless, sick and poor within our immediate community. Working together with our international supporters and local staff, we administer services on a needs basis, approaching each of our projects with an eye towards sustainability.
WHO WE SERVE
Theotokos Girls Orphanage
Housing one hundred residents (with a capacity for 200 residents), ranging in age from toddlers to college-aged women, the Theotokos Girls’ Hostel provides a full range of services to young women during their years of growth. The hostel’s staff is facing what has come to be known as “the girl problem” in India. Female babies are much more likely to be aborted in India. An estimated 4 – 12 million girls have been aborted using “selective abortions” in the past three decades in India (NYT, 2011).
Adolescent girls often resort to begging, abusive forms of labor, or prostitution to make a living. With an education, the prospects for a young woman are much brighter. The PSOC seeks to ameliorate the struggles of young women who are orphaned and abandoned at a young age. Through the generous donations of international supporters, many of our high school graduates have obtained acceptance from the most rigorous Universities in the city. In the future, some of the girls want to take on administrative and teaching positions within the PSOC, helping meet the dream of sustainability. Others will obtain jobs in the private and public sectors, and will be well equipped to pursue each of their personal goals.
A short film about the PSOC’s groundbreaking work to improve the lives of women in West Bengal is available.
St. Ignatius Boys Orphanage
Opened in 2011, the St. Ignatius Boys’ Hostel has already welcomed over thirty boys, and its numbers are steady growing. Hoping to repeat the hard-won successes of the girls’ hostel, the St. Ignatius Boys’ hostel provides the same comprehensive care: schooling, medical, and tutorial support, as well as an on-campus exercise facility. With a caring staff of nannies and tutors, the boys are already showing great affection for their new home. The boys range in age from nursery to middle school. With your support, we hope to nurture the boys to be responsible, conscientious young men.
St. Ignatius School
Julpia Rd., Vill. Bakeswar, ONGC MORE
P.O. NEPALGUNGE, Dist. 24
India Phone: +918961111167 / +919831797150
In May of 2019 the new St. Ignatius High School was inaugurated. There are several important sections of the school and the building that need to be completed.
In rural, impoverished areas of West Bengal, literacy rates are very low. Because of the great distances, children are unable to pay for transportation and so are often prevented from pursuing an education in the city.
For the purpose of providing a basic education to rural children, the PSOC has six primary schools in rural locations. In addition, the St. Ignatius English Medium School has also been established. It is located next to the Theotokos Girls’ Orphanage in Bakeswar.
Village schools are located in Takouranitsok, Dilgagram, Monachorpour, Kaknan, Kalighat, and Ghorada. In our 5 schools in the villages, apart from the teacher’ salaries, all the books for the students are provided.
There are hundreds of homeless children in the streets of Kolkata.
Every morning the PSOC distributes vitamin-enriched milk and biscuits to the many children on the city streets. For some, it is the only meal they will be able to eat all day.
The poorest of the poor in Kolkata depend on the Lunch Distribution to provide them with a home-cooked, nutritious meal.
Every day, the homeless, the blind, and the elderly receive a cooked lunch. Meals include rice, vegetable curry, and dahl (a type of lentil soup). Distribution of these meals is vital to sustaining adequate nutrition for the poorest within the community.
Active in supporting and rebuilding communities after man-made and natural disasters, the PSOC is committed to meeting basic human needs where they arise. One of our main goals is to encourage safe and healthy living. The social program of the Philanthropic Society assists the various needs of the community on a case-by-case basis, depending on funding capacities. Occasionally micro-finance or small development projects are undertaken in cases where a positive, lasting outcome can be guaranteed. For example, sewing machines have been donated to a group of widows, in order to help them create a dignified livelihood. Past projects include the drilling of tube wells and toilet facilities in the city center, and providing durable, weatherproof housing projects for the homeless.
Currently, our development projects focus on long-term goals. The organic farm next to the hostel will subsidize food costs for both orphanages, and on-site alternative green energy will reduce our carbon footprint as well as our operating expenses. Our first priority is to the children of the community, and their needs always come first. Additional projects rely on the initiative of our international sponsors.
During this pandemic we are operating limited services.
The PSOC operates 7 dispensaries all staffed by local doctors and nurses.
An eye doctor’s team helps meet optical needs of the very poor. In the early morning, patients gather at the dispensaries for check-ups. Paid clerks record their needs and triage services. The waiting rooms quickly fill up with families, young women, and babies seeking quality care. Besides providing free medical services, we offer specialized wheelchairs to the disabled.
Update 2021: At one time, a complete dental dispensary was available for those with dental issues. We hope to have it reopen after the pandemic.
In 1924, the Greek Orthodox Community established the historical Transfiguration of the Savior Church in the center of Kolkata. The church was closed in 1972. It was reopened and renovated with the arrival of Fr. Ignatios Sennis in 1991. Fr. Sennis, rector of the Church, worked closely with the local community. With the help of Sister Nectaria Paradisi, Fr. Sennis created the PSOC. The Society was officially registered as an NGO in 1993.
From the beginning, the Society targeted its philanthropic projects to benefit individuals and families suffering from acute poverty in West Bengal, and particularly the slum children in the city. Hard work and dedication, together with the continuous aid from generous benefactors, have resulted in the emergence of numerous effective, life-changing humanitarian programs. Little by little, the PSOC has developed a thriving local community of teachers, staff, and doctors.
Today, Sister Nectaria, with the help of Mr. Raju Bharat (President of the PSOC) and Mr. Raphael Maity’s hard work and dedication, continues to administer a range of humanitarian services to Kolkata and the surrounding villages. Health, shelter, education, and the most urgent needs of the poor are all addressed by the PSOC. The PSOC carefully and lovingly tailors services to meet each individual need. With clinics, schools, and community centers throughout the 52 villages of West Bengal, Sister Nectaria works diligently to approach the most urgent and promising cases first.
At the PSOC, we measure success in individual growth and achievement. Sustainability is one of our core values, and all our projects employ local workers. Though the PSOC continues to rely on international aid for most of its services, we hope to reach a high of sustainability, through development projects such as a local organic farm and solar energy, in the future.
St. Ignatius School Julpia Rd., Vill. Bakeswar, ONGC MORE P.O. NEPALGUNGE, Dist. 24 Parganas (S) India