Christmas, charity on the coast

Christmas, charity on the coast

SOCIAL CAUSE White Doves is an organisation in Mangaluru that does social service as well as entertains, through its performances, writes Ronald

Christmas, charity on the coast

As the Christmas season approaches, the port city of Mangaluru gets colourful. While shops display colourful stars and greeting cards among other fascinating attractions, bakery owners are busy preparing delicious, designer cakes and special delicacies (also known as kuswar) that include rice laddoos, nevreu, gulio, kidiyo and tukdi.

On the other hand, many churches as well as enthusiastic youth begin preparations for the Christmas crib a month in advance — creating streams, “building” Rome or Bethlehem — exhibiting their creative ideas.

In addition to these, Mangaluru witnesses another unique programme organised by White Doves, a civil society organisation involved in sheltering destitute people.

Every year, as Christmas approaches, the White Doves Choir gets ready to spread the message of Christmas through its mobile show, that includes presentation of a few scenes from the Bible (parables).

Corrine Antoinette Rasquinha, founder of White Doves, informs that the choir has presented over 370 shows, in and around Mangaluru, since its inception 21 years ago. Usually, the shows are performed on a truck in the second and third weeks of December, just before Christmas.

However, this year, they are moving out of Mangaluru — to Hassan and Belur. “This year, the mobile show comprises a 90 feet stage, all built on trailer trucks, with 125 artistes from all age groups performing,” Corrine says. “The real meaning of Christmas is lost now,” she opines, adding that what White Doves does is to give best Christmas messages through these mobile shows.

The White Doves perform to a new theme every year. While Prophet Daniel and the Prodigal Son was performed this year, Good Samaritan and St Sebastian and St Francis Assissi were staged in the last two years. As far as the artistes are concerned, many are amateurs and few are professionals.

White Doves began as a result of Corrine’s ambition to help the poor and needy. It runs two rehabilitation centres — one for men and another for women, both in Mangaluru — caring for and sheltering the abused, destitute and mentally challenged.

At present, there are 130 inmates including 68 females and eight children. Another significant achievement of White Doves is that they have so far managed to reunite 72 persons from all over India with their families. They are from different regions including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Nepal, as well as Bangladesh.

There are interesting stories behind every attempt to reunite the inmates, who were found on the streets.

These rehabilitation centres are run with the support of private donors and income generated by the White Doves Choir.

In addition to the existing two shelters, the White Doves is coming up with a 200-bed psychiatric/destitute nursing home at Maroli, about 10 km from Mangaluru.

Cultural aspects
Corrine is an accomplished singer, lyricist and producer, and has been associated with talented musicians for the last two decades. So she leveraged this to raise funds for the needy (much before the White Doves was formed).

“I have visited more than 17 countries to give performances,” she says and adds that nearly 300 singers (mostly college students) would have taken part in various performances of Corrine’s band.

Quite interestingly, as Corrine puts it, the White Doves has the support of talented individuals who willingly contribute their time and talent.

“They come together to raise funds and goodwill through the choir and other gospel music concerts. We  also sing at weddings, funerals and church ceremonies. The amazing blend of singers, musicians, actors and technicians as part of the annual Christmas street shows of the White Doves is a major seasonal event for the people of coastal region.

The members of the White Doves team also get engaged in social service by feeding the homeless. The beneficiaries also include handicapped people, migrant labourers who are striving to get proper work and dependents of poor patients.

Referring to the famous quote by Mother Teresa, Corrine says, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. The White Doves strives to be that ‘drop’ to ensure that the ocean of love never runs dry.”

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