Christmas stars up for grabs at a book store (below) and festive streamers adorn GEL Church on Main Road in Ranchi on Sunday. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
Christmas is not just about getting gifts, it’s also about sharing them.
Thousands of children staying at 30 residential schools under the aegis of Gossner Evangelical Lutheran (GEL) Church will share the gift of joy with their counterparts in Uttarakhand, many of whom were rendered homeless by flash floods in June.
The major Christian denomination has launched Mission Rupee One to support thousands of children displaced by the natural calamity. As part of the noble endeavour, each student of GEL cradles all over the country will donate a rupee this Christmas as a mark of solidarity with the little victims of the calamity.
Moderator of GEL Church Nelson Lakra said the initiative was aimed at reaching out to the thousands of displaced or orphaned children who would not have a merry Christmas this time.
“I have asked all children staying in our hostels to donate Re.1 each on Christmas-eve for the children of Uttarakhand. We want our children to share their joys with their unfortunate brothers and sisters, many of whom have lost their homes and parents in the calamity. The collected sum will be sent to Holistic Child Development India, an NGO working for children. The donations will continue till all children in Uttarakhand are rehabilitated,” he said, adding that the Mission Rupee One would be gradually extended to other organs of GEL Church.
Lakra further said that a major part of their budget earmarked for Christmas festivities has also been diverted to fund relief work in the flood-hit state.
“We have joined hands with National Council of Churches in India, World Lutheran Services and other organisations to do all that we can for the displaced thousands,” he said, adding that they were glad funds earmarked for Christmas were being used for a noble cause.
Asked whether reduced budget will have an impact on the grandeur of celebrations, Lakra replied that they would deal with the deficit by reducing administrative expenses.
“Christmas will be celebrated with usual gaiety and fervour. However, we will have to do without an organ as a new one arriving from Germany has encountered shipping delays and will reach Calcutta in January. From there, it will have to be transported to Ranchi on a trawler. We are not hiring an organ or any other musical instrument to accompany the choir,” he added.
The GEL Church runs residential schools across the country for children from marginalised families. Each of these hostels houses nearly 100 boarders, many of whom are orphans.
In Jharkhand alone, it runs five residential hostels. While one is located on the GEL premises in the capital, Khunti in Ranchi district and Govindpur in West Singhbhum boast of two hostel each.