The parish inherited the social and welfare activities for the economically deprived people of the local area from the Sister of Charity who initiated it in 1974. A centre was created to carry out the same work by the parish under the name ‘Pallotti Welfare Centre’. The centre was a response to the need of the economically deprived people of the local area. In the initial phase charity was the major thrust hence medicines, food products and clothing were distributed to the people. Over the years the emphasis has shifted from charity to a development approach. Interestingly, this shift in approach has resulted in the branching out the centre from the church to the adopted slum community, Poomeri Nagar, unit 20, pump house and Aarey Road.
Access to Poomeri Nagar is a pathway under the water pipes. In this hidden world, the slum people have carved a niche and worked out a life-style for themselves. The slum settlers are from Chennai, Mumbai, and are mainly Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The total slum population is approximately 400. Basic amenities like toilets and water supply are not available for the people. The slum dwellers get their water supply from a gash in the pipes to assuage their basic needs. Recently a few households have acquired access to electricity and now many have got the electricity connections. Children in the area go to widely dispersed municipal schools.
Currently the goals of the centre are to educate people to mobilize and utilize community resources, to harness their potential and to make them economically independent. In keeping with goals, the centre runs a balwaadis (kindergartens) programme for pre-schoolers conducted by local teachers. Sewing classes, medical check – ups, community meetings are part of the activities at the centre. There is perceived need among the people to have a remedial classes for the children to sustain their interest in studies. The women of the community are looking for self – employment schemes which will make them economically independent. Formation of mahila mandal, youth group and support groups would help to address individual needs and strengthen relationships in the community.
In the past few years a group of Pallottine brothers have spent their vacations living and working with the slum community. Lay people, religious and members from church associations visit and work with the slum dwellers, whenever feasible. Each and every intervention has proved to be a good boost to the morale of the slum people. As we look forward to the happy continuation of these empowerment programmes, let us extend our talents, times and resources to the people of these slums who are very much integral part of our community.