The Andaman and Nicobar islands are a chain of some 572 islands in the Indian Ocean which belong to the Indian union, only 37 of which are actually inhabited, however. Even on the inhabited islands, over one third of the area is a rainforest reserve, and there are many different aboriginal tribes, including some entirely isolated ones who reject almost all contact with the outside world. Since the 1980s the population on these islands has been growing, as a result of migration from the Indian mainland. Today the total population is approximately 380,000 people – one third of whom live in the capital, Port Blair.
The Catholic diocese of Port Blair has approximately 34,000 Catholics, almost all of whom are Nicobarese. The 16 parishes of the diocese are scattered across several islands, and there are over 500 small Christian communities. To travel between islands the priests need boats, of course; on the islands themselves, however, what roads there are are long and difficult to negotiate. Almost none of the parishes has a car, and the old bicycles and mopeds that are commonly used take a heavy battering from the rough roads and do not last long. And so, last year the diocesan administrator asked ACN for help to purchase 10 new mopeds for pastoral work. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to respond quickly with a donation of 9000 Euros, and the mopeds have now been purchased. So now the priests can once again reach the Catholic faithful in the scattered villages of the islands.
The ten priests who have benefited from these new mopeds have expressed their heartfelt gratitude, and the people are happy too. For thanks to your help, the diocese can now intensify its youth outreach, for example, and generally reach out more easily and more often to the Catholic faithful.
Our heartfelt thanks to all our benefactors!