St Joan of Arc Catholic School in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, held a barn dance on Saturday evening for the children of leprosy sufferers, some of whom have the disease themselves. £2,600 was made for Udayan, the home in Calcutta which the school has helped to support for a little over four years.
In that time two groups of sixth formers and a number of staff have made their way to the home run by an Englishman, the Reverend James Stevens OBE. Encouraged by Mother Teresa who described these children as 'the very poorest of the poor',"
James founded Udayan in 1970 and has helped a great many children who would otherwise have lived lives of dire poverty and hardship because of the dreadful stigma attached to the disease. The dancers were treated to a ploughman's meal to keep their energy levels up and a couple of songs from Oklahoma sung by none other than James himself who is in the UK on a fund raising mission for his home. Udayan cares for 320 children aged 3 -18 years and does so on donated funds only.
James Stevens had visited St Joan's the previous day to meet headmaster Peter Sweeney and speak to the sixth form about the plight of lepers whose great suffering is intensified because of the consequences of the social stigma
St Joan's, which celebrated its centenary recently, has raised thousands of pounds since adopting Udayan as their outreach faith-in-action project, and another group of its students and two teachers are heading to India early next year to assist in the home. Peter Sweeney told James, 'We at St Joan's are committed to a long-term relationship with Udayan and will do all possible to ensure you never have to close your doors to these children.'
For more information see www.joa-udayan.co.uk