Helping Families of Prisoners as Long as the Need Exists
Three months after the horrific 2008 Kandhamal riots in India’s Orissa state (now Odisha), Gornath Chalanseth received a surprise summons from the police. When he arrived at the police station, he was loaded into a van and taken to prison. His family later learned that he had been detained in connection with the murder of radical Hindu priest Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. In the riots prompted by Saraswati’s murder, angry Hindus killed more than 100 Christians and destroyed 5,800 homes and 300 churches and Christian institutions.
Under intense pressure to find those responsible for Saraswati’s murder and to appease rioting Hindu fundamentalists, Orissa police arrested Gornath and six other men. The one thing the prisoners had in common was their Christian faith.
Throughout the men’s imprisonment, VOM supported their families. “A lot of godly people began to help us,” a prisoner’s wife said. “Whatever needs we had became solved.”
Thankfully, Gornath and the other men were released last year and reunited with their families after more than 10 years in prison.
When Christians are persecuted for their faith, VOM provides immediate assistance. And we continue to meet ongoing or long-term needs such as those of the imprisoned men’s families. VOM assists with living expenses, children’s educational needs, relocation assistance, legal assistance and vocational assistance, among other needs.