Mar Thoma Suvishesha Sevika Sangam
Mar Thoma Suvishesha Sevika Sangam
The women in the Mar Thoma church also shared the spiritual power generated by the Reformation. The Mar Thoma Suvisesha Sevika Sanghom the women’s wing, was inaugurated during the Maramon Convention in the year 1919, under the leadership of Abraham Mar Thoma Suffragan Metropolitan., who gave the Sanghom continued support and inspiration.
Every women of the Mar Thoma Church above the age of 18 years is a member of the Sevika sanghom. The Sevika Sanghom has branches in all parishes of the Mar Thoma Church both in India and abroad. Each branch elects from among its members a committee including office bearers. The Vicar of the parish is the President of the branch Sevika Sanghom, who gives guidence and support to the activities. . A few branches are grouped together to form a centre and a few centres together constitute a Diocese. The Sevika Sanghom follows the pattern of the Mar Thoma Church in the organizational matters.The organization owes much to the self sacrificing and indefatigable work of Mrs. Kandamma Varghese as organising Secretary for over 20 years travelling far and wide, organising branches in parishes, doing evangelistic work among Christians and non-Christians. She also served as General Secretary for a few years. Dr. Mrs. Annamma George served as organising Secretary for 14 years and organised centres and centre meetings. Her theological insights and vision have taken the women of the Sevika Sanghom to a higher level of thinking in the social and religious sphere.
The need for empowering and educating women workers was realised early. The Vanitha Mandiram, the Bible school run by the Sevika Sanghom was established in 1925 at the headquarters of the Sanghom. The Mandiram has trained many women as evangelists since its inception. Miss kellaway, an Australian Missionary came with the help of C.M.S and served as the Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram to train the workers. She worked for 20 years. Before she returned to Australia. Her distinguished services, deep Christian devotion and labour of love are remembered with deep gratitude. The library attached to the Vanitha mandiram is dedicated as a memorial to Miss. Kellaway.
The next Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram was Miss. Mariam samuel. Her experience as a teacher in the Baker Memorial School, kottayam and as an Evangelist in the villages of Bengal has enriched her service. After her retirement, she stayed at the Vishranti Bhavan, the home for the retired workers of the sevika sanghom, till her death at the age of 95 years.
Miss. Susy David, who had theological training in Jabalpur and Chicago carried on the torch until her demise in 1998. Miss. Saramma Eapen who is a theological graduate and a full time Sevika Sanghom worker , is the present Principal. The Vanitha Mandiram remained as a Bible school all these years. The sevika sanghom is in the process of establishing a study and research centre by the name “Kandamma Memorial Study Centre for women’s studies”.
Along with evangelism, the work of bringing relief to the needy was also taken up. Naturally the concern for the Orphans became one of the top priorities. A home called Salem Bhavan was opened in 1923. Kottooreth Sosamma , who was the first President of the Sevika Sanghom brought up six Orphan children in her home. They were taken into the Salem Bhavan. Subsequently more children were admitted and taken care of. Most of the children-both boys and girls are married. Some have done well in life and are working outside kerala and abroad, while others are struggling hard to meet both ends. A few more are to be married . Some are studying in schools. A few are retarded/disabled. Kandamma Kochamma, Mrs. P.J. Mariamma, Mrs. Saramma Mathew, Miss. T.T.Sosamma are a few among those who cared for these children. Mrs. Aleykutty Jacob. is the present Superintendent of the Salem Bhavan for the past 23 years. She has done a lot in helping the children to settle in life. Those who had ability to study could reach good positions in life. The ex-members of 106 families of Salem Bhavan has formed a Kudumbayogam, which meets once in a year for a get-together.
The number of children seeking refuge in the Salem Bhavan has reduced due to the advanced medical facilities and social awarness. A Balika Bhavan was started at Elanthoor where 75 girls from poor-families of remote areas. Without schooling facilities are admitted and educated in the nearly schools. All the applicants cannot be admitted into the Elanthoor Balika Bhavan due to certain limitations. Hence the Sevika sanghom is considering to open more Balika Bhavans.
Medical work also was started to serve the poor in the sea coast area of cheriazhical, near Karthikappally and at Puthuppally near Kayamkulam. Later when the Medical mission work was started by the Church the Sevika Sanghom withdraw from this field.
Educational work was undertaken in 1950 at Punalur and at Kottarakkara. Later on these have been placed under the corporate Management of the Chruch. A Kindergarton school was started in 1955. It has developed into a K.G and U.P school with boarding facilities at Thiruvalla in the international year of children in 1979, the Mar Thoma Nursery teachers training school was started and it is one of the few institutions that has the recognition of the Kerala Government and NCTE of the Central Government.
Hostels for working women became a great need and the Sevika Sanghom responded by starting one at Kottarakkara. Another hostel was started adjacent to the Vishranti Bhavan, Thiruvalla. Working women and students of neighbouring colleges stay in these hostels. Jyothi Nilayam is the third hostel run at Erimayoor near Palakkad. The working ladies who stay in the hostel can keep their children below 4 years old. A creche and a nursery school attached to the hostels are also functioning for the convenience of the working mothers.
Vanitha Bodhini is the official magazine published in Malayalam and English by the Sevika Sanghom. The magazine serves as a media for conscientising women on current affairs, Biblical and theological issues and several matters concerning women
The Sevika sanghom has started a registered society called Sthreejana Vikasana Samithi(S.V.S) to help women to become self supporting. The
Lahama bakery, curry powder unit, Printing press, Snack centre and the tailoring School, functioning under the S.V.S are managed by women to provide job opportunities for women.
A refresher course is arranged every year for the workers and they stay in the Ashramam at Thiruvalla.The members of Sevika sanghom at various levels-parishes, centres, diocese have taken up various project for the uplift of women and children. There are 11 mission fields, where 50 sisters of the Sangham stay and work both in the parishes and in the periphery among the poor and the marginalised.