Foul suspected in convent school food poisoning *India’s first transgender pastor

February 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Karnataka, National, newsletter-lead, State

Students outside the hospital ward

Students outside the hospital ward

Karnataka, February 10, 2012: Nearly 50 students of a Catholic school were admitted to hospital after the midday meal. A church official has suspected foul play in the food poisoning of some 50 students of a Catholic school in Mangalore.

The students of the St Joseph’s Higher Primary school developed nauseating symptoms after they consumed government-sponsored midday meal served to them.

Father William Menezes, public relations officer of the Mangalore diocese, said that within no time thousands of people gathered to blame the school for the incident.

“There could be some foul play to divert the attention of the public from recent government scandals,” he said.

Sister Sharal Santhumayor, principal of the school, said that out of 240 students of the school, nearly 50 students were rushed to the nearby Father Muller Hospital for food poisoning after they consumed the government-sponsored lunch yesterday.

She said that 15 students are admitted in the hospital for observation, while the rest have returned home healthy.

“They were admitted for observation as they had shown nauseating symptoms. Condition of all the children is stable and they are able to take food now,” said Poppy Chadda, a doctor in the hospital who is administering the children.

Chadda said that the food sample has been sent for testing.

According to the school sources, Vithaliya Monteiro, a Catholic, cooks food for children of 27 schools, including this one, but nothing happened to the students of other schools.

Sister Shuba Moras, the correspondent of the school, said, “as the news of stomach pain of one or two students came out, more than thousand people gathered near the school with ambulances and almost forcibly carried children into the hospitals.”

“Mostly poor students are taught in this school. I could not understand how so many people could gather within no time,” she added.

P. Appi, whose child was admitted in the hospital, said she was frightened when she got the news but “now my child is fine and has taken food.”

The incident has happened at a time when the Mangalore diocese is all set to celebrate the post centenary jubilee of its establishment on February 11-12 after a whole year of celebrations.

“This is shocking news to us when all is set to celebrate the grand post centenary jubilee of the establishment of the diocese,” said Father Menezes.

He said that the school authorities have informed the police.

– francis rodrigues

India’s first transgender pastor


BharathiTamil Nadu, February 08, 2012: Bharathi conducts services in Tamil and English every Sunday. At a young age, Bharathi got attracted to the Bible. She went on to complete her Bachelor’s in Theology and achieve the distinction of becoming India’s first transgender pastor.

For the past eight months, Bharathi has been preaching at the Evangelical Church of India in Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu.

She conducts services in Tamil and English every Sunday, besides training another transgender to become a pastor.

“I have conducted two baby showers for families and even named a child. Though I do not have a licence to conduct a wedding, a parishioner printed my name on his wedding invitation,” she said.

Traumatized and shunned as a youngster, Bharathi said societal acceptance was once just a dream for her just as it is for members of her ilk across the country.

She said she had formed a team to work among transgenders in Chengalpattu, to bring them into the church and thus into the mainstream.

Recalling her harrowing past, Bharathi said her family assumed she was a boy at birth.

“I was very feminine and my classmates and neighbors would make fun of me. I became a loner and could not even complete class 12,” she said.

Bharathi said that when she was 10, an “angel” entered their home.

“A nun near our home took pity on me and took me in,” she said.

The church soon became Bharathi’s home and she decided to embrace Christianity at the age of twelve.

“I started reading the Bible and praying in church every day. I converted when I was 12 and was baptized a few years later in 2000,” she added.

Bharathi, who left home more than seven years ago, visited her family two months ago.

“I had resolved to return to my family only after reaching a position of repute. When I returned, my parents were proud of me,” she said.

The pathbreaking move by the ECI, which has more than 100,000 followers across India, coincides with evangelical denominations in other countries, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, deciding to allow transgenders as pastors.

– times of India

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