Motto: Helping the poor help themselves
SOJASI (Society of Jesus Agricultural and Social Institute) makes a big difference in the life of the poorest families in Himalayan villages, in the Jesuit Province of Darjeeling, by offering practical training in organic farming, which will enable them to earn a living.
Established in 2010 in a mountain village called Chimney, high above Kurseong, the training centre of SOJASI offers training in Square Metre Gardening Methods (SMVG), oyster mushroom production and organic composting. Farmers come for training from the neighbouring state of Sikkim too.
Another goal of SOJASI is to help the poorest children get formal education and skills training. “There are so many children who are just left out, without the chance to go to school and without proper guidance,” says SOJASI Director, Cecilia George. SOJASI looks after 18 needy children and teenagers, aged between 6 and 20: “We live together in Morningstar, a large home in Kurseong,” continues Cecilia.
SOJASI is the offspring of SASAC (St Alphonsus Social and Agricultural Centre), an organisation with similar aims that was founded by Canadian Jesuit Murray Abraham SJ in 1978. SASAC was born after Fr Abraham and former students of his from Kurseong conducted a survey in some mountain villages and found people who seemed like “lost sheep.” When SASAC closed, SOJASI was born and another organisation, Woodcot, continued at the former SASAC base.
Director: Cecilia George