A British Catholic charity is helping the Indian diocese of Port Blair, which covers the Andaman and Nicobar islands, to build 15 chapels doubling as schools and parish meeting places.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has provided £12,500 (US$20,442) to provide roofs for the chapels, replacing thatched bamboo buildings which needed constant repair because of heavy monsoon rains.
This has become difficult because of a ruling by the Indian supreme court to prevent deforestation which makes cutting bamboo and taking leaves for thatch illegal.
Local people are building the chapels, part brick and part wood, themselves. But ACN is providing aluminum sheeting for the roofs.
The chapels are essential, ACN said, because the islands’ 40,000 Catholics – 10 percent of the population — are spread out in rural areas.
There are 18 priests in 14 parishes but each parish has 15-30 sub-stations, which in some places cater for more than 200 families.