ROME, 5 June – On the return trip from Assisi, I met Sr Leeza Kokkattu sitting in the opposite isle seat in the bus. It was easy striking up a conversation with her. She is a missionary from India working in Cambodia for last 10 years.
“Before leaving for the overseas missions, I was in Umsawi parish in the Karbi Anglong area under the Shillong province,” says Sr Leeza who has also her aunt and uncle, both Salesian missionaries working in northeast India. Hailing from Kerala, in south India, Sr Leeza is a bundle of energy, enthusiastic about her people and apostolate in Battambang, a rural mission in northwest Cambodia.
We are just 3 Sisters in the community, says Leeza, narrating her efforts to take care of girls from the remote rural area. We have a hostel, as well as adult literacy programme and spoken English classes, to equip girls who pursue Computer Application, Office Management and Home Science courses. Besides running a youth centre, we also help in the parish. The FMA Cambodia mission which started in 1992, today has 21 Salesian Sisters coming from 10 countries.
The Catholic population in the country is a minority, while the majority is Buddhist. Sr Leeza quickly adds, “the girls are very friendly and very appreciative of what we do for them, especially because we go out of the way to help them with tuition fee and boarding expenses. The consoling part of all these efforts is that the girls who complete the course successfully are assured of immediate job placement with a decent salary.”
Comparing the pay which her girls get after completing the two year course, Sr Leeza says, if a teacher in a government school gets a salary worth USD 35, our girls will get jobs that pay USD 90.
Visit to Ancient Rome
Saturday, the group of 29 Salesian Sisters spent Saturday visiting Basilicas of Mary Major, St John the Lateran and did a rapid tour of the ancient Rome before they got back to the generalate, to prepare for the farewell to the Sisters in the generalate.
The Charism Exhibition is the symbol of FMA fruitfulness and expansion. Mary, Community and Education of young women are threads that run through the whole exhibition. The enviornment consists of a long hall divided into three corridoors which are linked together at the end, by a scene depicting Mornese as the SOURCE. The FMA history is seen through the image of a water-way. The water leitmotiv is expressed in the background music, the colours and the various elements which remind one of water. The 90 minute visit to the exhibition in the basement of the generalate concluded with 20 minute prayer service entitled: To the call of the General Chapter.
The solemn Eucharistic celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ was followd by dinner and thanksgiving show by the visiting group.
Sunday 7 am, the group leaves by bus to Turin with a two hour stop in Florence and arrival in Turin scheduled for dinner time, 7.30 pm.
For most of the Sisters, this programme is once in a life time opportunity!