Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me.” Matthew 18:5
Karunalaya (Grace Foster Home) is a home for children whose parents are afflicted with or who have died of HIV/Aids. Kasthuri, wife of Paulraj, began this ministry of mercy in 2007 with the help of Georgetown PRC as well as family and friends in India. This had been a goal of Kasthuri for many years. She herself was raised and educated by Dr David Kirupakaran, a Christian missionary, who was running a school across the street from Kasthuri’s parents. Kasthuri became a Registered Nurse and worked in this field until she began the Karunalaya ministry. Initially, there were two children cared for in Paulraj and Kasthuri’s home. Karunalaya is now housed in a rental home and the number has grown to fifty, including 16 sets of siblings.
The home is staffed by local Christian women who provide a safe, loving and disciplined environment where the children thrive. When given the opportunity to visit family during school breaks, many children choose to stay at Karunalaya. They follow a structured schedule during the day, beginning with devotions, then attending the local government school. They all have chores to do in the home, the older ones teaching and assisting the younger ones. They are also tutored in English.
The home is a natural outreach of the Reformed Christian Church in Vellore (RCCV). These children are an integral part of the church family and participate in the life of the congregation. They receive catechism instruction, attend Sunday School, and learn about God in their twice daily devotions in the home and by being a part of a Christian home. The goal for these children is to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, raising them to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and nurturing them to become full members of the Vellore congregation. Children leaving orphanages are a vulnerable population in India and at risk for being forced into various social evils, including sex trades. Therefore, vocational training and higher education are long term goals for these children.
Recently the government granted the home official licensure and the organization is registered under The Ministry of Home Affairs. This gives the organization tax exempt status, a status that is not easily obtained. The home has also been honored with various awards for its exemplary service to children.
Each of the fifty children is sponsored by a member of Georgetown PRC as well as members of other congregations. Sponsors provide spiritual, emotional and monetary support to their child, writing to them regularly and sharing the “gospel of peace”.
“Here in our residential care, they [children] do receive not only bread, but also the Bread of Life” – Paulraj