The Bishop of Derby has launched an appeal to provide housing and basic education for girls living in one of the world's biggest and poorest slums in India, where desperate poverty and homelessness severely damage their life chances.
Bishop Libby Lane, who hit the headlines by becoming the first female Bishop of the Church of England, grew up in Glossop and her parents still live here.
The Diocese of Derby has a long mutual association with the Church of North India, built up in part through links with schools over many decades. This year, St Elizabeth’s Hostel in Kolkata, India, is the focus of Bishop Libby’s Harvest Appeal.
Drawn from some of the poorest slums in the city, the hostel is a refuge for up to 86 girls at any one time. Sometimes homeless and always underprivileged, the girls are provided with accommodation, food, clothing and other basic necessities as well as an education up to Higher Secondary level.
As a result of the pandemic, financial support has either been cut or is at severe risk in what are sometimes considered as low priority areas such as girls’ education.
Bishop Libby says she's determined that the long-term development of girls at St Elizabeth’s should continue.
Bishop Libby Lane
The appeal aims to raise thousands of pounds and is being launched in parishes and schools throughout the Diocese and will run from September to the end of December this year.
Education helps the girls overcome social and financial challenges and to access jobs and income to enable them to live independently and sustain themselves. Without the support of St Elizabeth’s, most of the girls would receive no education at all, making it likely they would remain in poverty like many thousands of other girls and vulnerable to exploitation, often by the sex trade.
Bishop Libby said: “Many of these girls come from truly desperate situations, and lacking the basic tools to be able to change their situation. St Elizabeth’s work is so inspiring – a shining example of our partners in the Church of North India making known the good news of the Kingdom of God. The joy and opportunity it brings is clear to see on the faces of these girls, and I know the people of Derbyshire will join with us help us raise the money needed to keep this wonderful institution alive. ”
Donations to the Harvest Appeal on behalf of St Elizabeth’s Hostel are being accepted by churches and Church of England Schools throughout the Diocese while individual donations can be made to the Bishop’s Harvest Appeal through www.justgiving.com/campaign/harvestappeal2021 including the option for Gift Aid.
For more information, visit www.derby.anglican.org/en/