KCWA at 25: Glorious journey through the years

April 24, 2014.

The Law of Divine Oneness states that everything is connected to everything else. What we think, say, do and believe will have a corresponding effect on others and the universe around us. So when there is an urge from within to provide selfless service to the community and to the deprived brethren in particular, such a cause is bound to blossom and flourish. Coupled with the blessings of the Almighty any association formed with good intentions, indivisible unity, open mindedness will thrive longer and scale higher. Kuwait Canara Welfare Association (KCWA) is one such living example.

During the 1980s many Mangaloreans gazed at the green pastures outside their native and reached Mumbai. Some daring souls ventured towards foreign lands and most of them aimed at the Middle Eastern countries for their livelihood thus landed in Kuwait. The priority of each of those who were in any of the gulf countries was to uplift their families back home and create a good financial foothold for their future. Amongst the hustle and daily struggle of life in the Gulf, four stalwarts of the Canara region then living in Kuwait – Francis Misquith, Charles Vaz, John Misquith and Elias Saldanha – came together with a noble vision ‘to provide basic education to the poor students. Thus on July 25, 1988 Kuwait Canara Welfare Association was formed under the able leadership of these four founder advocates.

 

Francis Misquith Suratkal, Charles Vas Pakshikere, John Misquith Suratkal, Elias Saldanha Katipalla

To enumerate the accomplishments of KCWA in a nutshell; the seed that was planted by four founder members, has been nurtured by fourteen presidents, tended by more than two hundred and fifty managing committee members, groomed by over two thousand members, and reaped by millions of poor children and needy brethren. The total amount disbursed for providing education to the poor students and other humanitarian causes has reached a height of 2.8 crore Indian rupees over the 25 years of KCWA’s existence; an average of 12 lac Indian rupees per year.

The Path KCWA Tread

KCWA’s cause resonated with a few of the fellow Mangaloreans residing in Kuwait and thus made a humble beginning with just 25 members under the noble leadership of Elias Saldanha. The first meeting was held on July 25, 1988 and the constitution of the association was presented and approved during that meeting. The members unanimously decided to contribute KD 2 per month and send the proceeds periodically to the needy children back home in India for their basic education. At the meeting, election was held and the association had its first full-fledged working committee.

First Working Committee

First meeting on July 25, 1988

The association was dedicated to its patroness, Mother of Perpetual Succor and a holy mass was offered at the annual General Assembly. As the word passed around, more members joined the association and the number of members increased to 64. In addition to the member’s contribution, the association initiated raffle draw and collected INR 49,500 (KD 2,828) and the amount was sent to 33 churches of Mangalore diocese, around INR 1,500 each. Moreover, in response to an appeal, INR 5,000 was sent to a poor family in need on humanitarian grounds. On July 14, 1989 KCWA’s first anniversary was celebrated with grandeur and Bishop Francis Micallef congratulated the members for their great achievement during the first year. Fr John Pinto was the chief guest of honour, who blessed and wished the association a bright future. Thus KCWA began its journey towards turning its dream into a reality.

During the second year, KCWA’s membership further increased to 176. Since the members residing in Kuwait were away from their families for long periods, the managing committee felt the need to initiate avenues for brotherhood and cultural values into KCWA, and hence KCWA took yet another first step to realize its initiative and decided to celebrate the ‘Monti Fest’ or Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 10, 1989 at the Holy Family Cathedral. The first KCWA ‘Monti Fest’ was celebrated with great devotion. To keep up with the tradition the new corn was brought from Mangalore and blessed during the concelebrated high mass; and thereafter a traditional meal was shared among more than 450 people of the community. The people were also entertained by a social drama “Patim Apnayellem Dirvem” written by Johnny Suratkal (Misquith) and directed by Rony Suratkal.

To uplift the financial status of the association and to help more beneficiaries, KCWA with the coordination of Louis Rodrigues, successfully presented the first ever Wilfy Nite in Kuwait on November 30, 1989 at the Indian Art’s Circle Auditorium, Funaitees and saved KWD 688. Furthermore, on June 15, 1990 KCWA presented a social drama ‘Tho Maka Naka’ played by local artistes. A sum of INR 1,35,000 (KD 7,500) was distributed amongst 90 parishes in the Mangalore diocese, thus once again keeping the objective of KCWA alive.

The Gulf War in 1990 created an environmental catastrophe that resulted in severe displacement of foreign workers creating fear and worry for their families back home. The Iraqi forces set fire to the Kuwaiti oil wells and dumped huge amount of crude into the sea. KCWA’s activities came to a standstill during the period. Even though the Gulf War came to an end, there was panic in everyone’s hearts and minds due to the damaging effects of the war. Amidst fear, people took the courage and arrived back to Kuwait for the sake of their families. However, there were no social or cultural activities until Fr John Alex Pinto took a giant step to reconstruct KCWA along with Victor Monteiro.

Fr. John Alex Pinto and Victor Monteiro

KCWA regained its vigorous life through robust motivation from the clergy and diverse talents from dynamic committee members. It is noteworthy to state that even women came forward to take responsibilities for the first time and the honor goes to Ida D’Silva and Mable Andrade. To instill fellowship and brotherhood among the members, KCWA arranged its first family picnic on November 19, 1993 at Mina Alzoor Public Beach.

On the April 15, 1994, KCWA organized a great event ‘Konkani Sangeet Milan’ at Indian Art’s Circle Auditorium, Funaitees and the show was well received by the Konkani speaking community residing in Kuwait. During the event the first KCWA Souvenir was released. ‘Monti Fest’ was celebrated with great splendor at the Holy Family Cathedral on the 11th of November, 1994 and as usual, the traditional meal was shared. On this auspicious occasion, a music cassette compiled by Lancy Rodrigues, Bondel was released and KCWA Choir was commissioned. Francis D Souza, Ruzai assumed the responsibility to lead KCWA Choir. The first Christmas tree celebration was held at Indian Art’s Circle Auditorium, Funaitees on the 2nd of December, 1994. KCWA donated KD 1,111 for the construction of new Holy Family Cathedral building. During this term KCWA took another step towards the education of poor children by sending INR 1,50,000. This amount was placed in fixed deposits of INR 10,000 in 15 parishes of Mangalore diocese and the interest earned on these deposits was used for helping the poor children year after year by the parish priests.

KCWA Choir Group

KCWA Cricket Team

 Over the years KCWA introduced many events for the interest of its members and fellow Mangaloreans in Kuwait. It encouraged the talents of everyone by organizing cultural and sport events. At this tender age, a mega project of building an institution to provide computer education to the handicapped and children of special needs, with an estimated cost of INR 40 Lakhs was conceived. As time passed the concept of Life Membership was introduced, mortuary fund was for the member was established and a cricket team was formed. KCWA disbursed INR 20, 00,000 for St. Agnes Special School, INR 5, 00,00 towards education of poor children and 2,00,000 as humanitarian help and thus set a new record.

In the year 1999 for the first time a talent competition was arranged for the children of KCWA members, and 160 children participated in the competition. The St Agnes Special School for Handicapped was inaugurated on January 8, 2000 by Ramanath Rai, the then minister for fisheries and ports. One of the major achievements of KCWA in the field of education was to build the school to provide computer education for the handicapped with free hostel facility.

Inauguration of St Agnes Special School

During the term KCWA remitted INR 10,000 each to 75 parishes and till then the total sum of 18,70,000 was remitted by KCWA to the parishes of Mangalore diocese for education. Constitution detailing the rules and regulations for functioning was presented and approved in the general body meeting on February 25, 2000. Subscription amount for life membership was increased from KD 50 to KD 100. INR 50,000 was donated to the Indian Ambassador towards contribution in support of Kargil war.

Over the years KCWA made its presence felt in various educational institutions of Mangalore, by donating money towards the education of poor children. It also invested money towards the development of parishes that were not financially strong. On the cultural side KCWA started with the community celebration of the members children who received the First Holy Communion in Kuwait. It also staged various cultural shows and dramas with local and artists from Mangalore, thus generating funds to meet its objective.

On August 16, 2006 KCWA lost a gem in the form of John Misquith, Suratkal after he succumbed to cancer and departed to his heavenly abode. KCWA suffered a great loss with the passing away of one of its founder members. He was a well-known personality and was nicknamed ‘Johnny Suratkal’ and was also called as the ‘Comedy King’. He served the community selflessly through KCWA since its inception. KCWA members contributed generously and a sum of INR 3,00,000 was sent to his grieving family.

The year 2006 was also a year of a milestone achievement as KCWA basked in the glory and achievement of disbursing INR 1,00,00,000 towards the education of poor children and other humanitarian causes. A mega event “Korodacho Kurov” to celebrate this achievement was held and KCWA took the opportunity to honor the past presidents and five patrons who provided constant financial support all through the years. The patron members are Lawrence D Souza (Caesars), Charles D Sa (Basam International), Vally D Sa (Khalil Bahman) Sam Alphonso (Al Thuwaini) and John Fernandes (Sanbouk). The main sponsor for the event was Felix D’Souza of Al-Rathath Est. He foresaw the potential that KCWA has and laid the foundation for the second crore by donating a sum of INR 1,00,000

The year 2008 was the year of KCWA’s 20th anniversary, and was celebrated on the 4th of April at the American International School auditorium A cultural event ‘Sobhan Saanz’ was organized under the direction of Eric Ozario and Stany Alvares were the Master of Ceremony. His Excellency Dr. Henry D Souza, Bishop of Bellary was the chief guest of honor. The event was well attended by more than 1,200 people of our community and the program was well received by the audience.

KCWA felt the need of contacting its members often and a new SMS system was purchased for easy communication. Furthermore, KCWA donated INR 1, 17, 1961 to Gandhinagar diocese in Gujarat to purchase 60 bicycles for the poor children to go to school. KCWA, along with other associations, continually worked for Mangalore – Kuwait direct flights and the first direct flight from Mangalore landed in Kuwait on July 18, 2008; a great joy to all Mangaloreans residing in Kuwait.

The ‘World Konkani Convention’ was held in Mangalore on December 9, 2010 and KCWA was chosen as one among the 25 international organizations those worked with dedication towards the promotion and upliftment of the Konkani language. On behalf of KCWA, Dr Manohar Prabhu received the award from the President of India Pratibha Patil. During this time 173 ordinary members and 26 life members joined KCWA and extended their helping hand towards accomplishing the noble vision and mission of KCWA.

In the year 2011, KCWA became a member of the International Federation of Karnataka Christian Associations. On the 13th of April, 2013 KCWA celebrated its second milestone achievement of disbursing INR 2,00,00,000 and presented the ‘Don Korodancho Sombrom’ at the American International School Auditorium with grandeur. Francis Sirur, member of the previous managing committee, secretary and also the public relation officer laid the foundation for the third crore by donating INR 1,00,000 to KCWA.

 The year 2013 marked KCWA’s 25 years of existence. It also happened to be a year where a new committee would be elected to take charge of the working and administration of the association. After the formation of the managing committee the preparations to celebrate KCWA’s Silver Jubilee began. A year-long celebration of various activities and events was planned, and it began with a thanksgiving Holy Mass on August 5, 2013 in the Holy Family Cathedral.

The Silver Jubilee Monthi Fest, the birthday of our Patroness was celebrated on September 8, 2013 with immense veneration. Fr Joel D Souza (the visiting priest from Mangalore) was the main celebrant of the concelebrated Holy Mass. After the Mass, KCWA shared the traditional meal with more than 3,000 people of the community.

To mark the year of faith, a family retreat was organized on September 12, 2013 at Holy Family Cathedral in association with Christ the King Konkani Prayer Group. The retreat was preached by Fr Noel Almeida and Fr Joel D’Souza and was attended by more than 250 faithful.

The Silver Jubilee Athletic Meet was organized at Keifan Stadium on October 16, 2013. The event was open to all Mangalorean Catholics and all were impressed by the talents exhibited by 430 athletes of the community.

A talent vompetition was organized on November 22 at the Indian Community School and for the first time in the history of KCWA more than 300 contestants participated in the competition.

On December 6, 2013 KCWA celebrated ‘Christmas Party’ on a grand scale. During the event members’ children who excelled in 10th and 12th standard examinations were felicitated and merit scholarship was awarded. Fr Dolphy Pais OFM Cap, the Franciscan Provincial of Karnataka was the chief guest of honour.

The KCWA Cricket Cup 2014 took place on March 7 this year at the Sulaibiya Cricket ground and 11 teams participated. The championship was bagged by Udupi Friends Team and Sharq United were the runners-up.

KCWA website (www.kcwakuwait.org) was fully renovated and redesigned with a new look and diverse features by Rajesh Aranha. The website provides a great deal of information about KCWA to its members and the visitors. KCWA Facebook also keeps the members well informed about the events and announcements. Through the website and the Facebook, the dream of KCWA predecessors to introduce advanced communication system in KCWA was realized. The Indian Embassy registration process was completed and now KCWA is an Embassy registered charity organization.

During this term KCWA disbursed INR 7,00,000 to 28 parishes of Mangalore and Udupi dioceses and INR 10,48,000 to 20 other beneficiaries. Moreover INR 5,20,000 was disbursed to 12 beneficiaries as humanitarian help. In other words a total sum of INR 22,68,000 was disbursed from April 2013 to March 2014.

KCWA Silver Jubilee

KCWA will be celebrating its milestone silver jubilee with grandeur in an event called “Rupyotsav” on Friday, April 25 at the American International School, Maidan Hawally, Kuwait from 3 pm. A thrilling social drama by popular artistes from Dubai ‘Aami Nathlyaa Vellar’ will be presented along with a musical extravaganza called ‘Retro to Metro’ by famous singers Adolf, Iqbal, Rajgopal, Shafi, Nayana and their team.

Caesars and Issnad Urban Development are the main sponsors of the event. Daijiworld is the official web sponsor. Dr Gerald Issac Lobo, bishop of Udupi diocese, Ronald Colaco, philanthropist, entrepreneur and president of the International Federation of Karnataka Christian Association (IFKCA), and J R Lobo, MLA of Mangalore South constituency, will grace this grand occasion as the guests of honour.

KCWA has come a long way since its inception. It has stayed true to its motive and objective and has enriched the lives of thousands of underprivileged children by giving them a chance to practice their right to education, has helped the needy and has spread the love for humanity. Great numbers of people have supported KCWA wholeheartedly over the years and the selfless service and generous contributions from the members, office bearers, benefactors, sponsors and donors is an integral part of KCWA’s success story.

Summary of KCWA’s Achievements

As of 2014, a total of Indian Rupees 2.77 crore has been donated by KCWA towards education and humanitarian necessities in India and Kuwait, a major share of which is directed towards the cause of education of children in rural areas in Karnataka.

• Poor Children’s Education Fund established in 160 Parishes/Institutions spread throughout the Canara region of Karnataka State. This fund facilitates books, uniforms and school fees to the needy children, which is distributed irrespective of their caste or religion. At present this education fund has grown to Indian Rupees 1.8 crore, which is managed by the Parishes/Institutions.

• The Computer Education Centre at St Agnes Special School built in the year 2000, at a cost of Indian Rupees 40 lac. This institution is being managed by the Apostolic Carmel Sisters at Bendore, Mangalore, and provides free computer training to deserving candidates.

• A permanent scholarship of Indian Rupees 10 lac to educate two meritorious students from Mangalore diocese, annually, in the St Joseph’s Engineering College, Vamanjoor, Mangalore.

• Contributed Indian Rupees 5 lac towards sponsoring a classroom in the Navachetana School Project, Venur. This school shelters and cares for the Differently Abled Children under management of the Ursuline Franciscan Institution at Venur, Mangalore.

• Provided financial assistance of Indian Rupees 5 lac towards building a primary school at Kumbla through St Monica Educational Institutions in Mangalore.

• Disbursed Indian Rupees 6.5 lac to setup the Anugraha School for Differently-abled Children in Bellary diocese, Karnataka, India.

•  A scholarship of Indian Rupees 8.5 lac was distributed to 205 deserving University students of Mangalore and Udupi dioceses to pursue higher education in 2012.

• Contributed Indian Rupees 10 lac towards the Library block of the newly constructed St. Mary’s College Building in Bela, Kasargod District, Mangalore Diocese.

• Routed Indian Rupees 31 lac towards various humanitarian intentions.

KCWA is grateful to the all the presidents and the managing committee who have served the association selflessly through the years and have steered it in the right path.

1. Elias Saldanha (1988 – 1989)
2. Henry Stany Pinto (1989)
3. Michael Lobo (1989 – 1990)
4. Salvadore Rodrigues (1990)
5. Victor Monteiro (1993 – 1997)
6. Lawrence Pinto (1997 – 1999)
7. Felix Saldanha (1999 – 2001)
8. Maxim D’Mello ( 2001 – 2002)
9. Pascal Pinto (2003 – 2005)
10. Stephen Machado (2005 – 2007 and 2011 – 2013)
11. Jossie Pinto (2007 – 2009)
12. Rudalf D’Souza (2009 – 2011)
13. Anil Fernandes (2013 – Till date)

KCWA will continue being a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration with the help of people having a compassionate heart and love for the poor.