MANGALURU: A still image on a projection screen shows a family of four seated around the dining table, glued to their cell phones. “There is a lack of face-to-face communication in families today,’’ declares Sr Carmelita Monteiro at a counselling workshop for parents who had enrolled their children at St Angela’s Nursery School in Bijai.
You do that always, a woman sitting in the front row of audience whispers to her husband in an accusing tone. The husband chooses not to respond but continues to listen in rapt attention. “It is because of this lack of communication that the bonding between parents and their child hardly takes place,” emphasises Sr Carmelita of Sampoorna, a counselling centre.
“Love of parents acts as a firm foundation in the life of children. Growth progress in a much-admired child is much higher than in children facing criticism, neglect and rejection. Studies had revealed that boys spend almost eight hours and girls 10 hours a day on their cell phones. The more you keep away children from nature they are sure to get sick more,” Sister warns parents.
Sr Carmelita, Ursuline Franciscan Sister and a native of Mangaluru, could have chosen a retired life, resting on the glory of her many past achievements. But she launched Sampoorna Counselling Centre in 2012. “Youth in Mangaluru are going astray due to neo-rich culture and influence of easy Gulf money,” says Sr Carmelita emphasising the urgency behind the launch of counseling services.
It all began 30 years ago, when she did her Masters in counselling at De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it changed my destiny from an educationist to a counsellor,’’ Sr Carmelita says. During the study she found one counselor being appointed for every 200 students in Philippines. And 30 years later, hundreds of schools in these parts still do not have counsellors, Sr Carmelita regrets.
In the initial days, Sampoorna was located at Ave Maria Palliative Care campus in Vamanjoor. At this juncture, the Sister who belongs to the 1968 batch recalls gratefully, how her old students, alumni of Giri Jyothi Convent School in Kudremukh, came forward and assisted her in her mission by offering financial support. “This help seemed like God’s plan that I should go ahead with the dream of a counselling centre in Mangaluru,’’ stresses Sr Carmelita.
At the golden jubilee programme organised by her well-wishers celebrating her 50 fruitful years of religious profession in April, she had revealed how her old students had been the motivating force behind her new venture.
“You are under 24-hours surveillance,” says Sr Carmelita, emphasising the parent’s role as models for their wards.
Justifying her observation, she recollects the case of an eight-year-old child with unstoppable whooping cough. “When the boy came to me I found he was insecure and kept dreading over the safety of his mother. The mother had beautiful eyes and grandmother in jest would keep declaring that her daughter would be kidnapped for her beauty. And the boy overhearing this conversation kept fearing over his mother’s safety. Whenever he thought about his mother, especially in school, he would cough so that he could be sent home. This ploy, however, became permanent, irritating teachers and his classmates. With one counseling session, whooping cough stopped and parents also stopped sharing negative emotions in front of their children,” she says.
Academically poor students, youth at cross-roads, addiction to drugs, pornography, cyber loops, child care, family relationships, divorce and such other issues across ages come to Sampoorna. “The need of the hour is counselling, to save our youth and families,” she stresses. Apart from individual counselling, she organises awareness programmes to different age groups, such as parents, teachers, students and adolescents.
Sr Carmelita is presently focusing on shifting the centre closer to the city and expand the team by training more women to become counsellors. Sampoorna, Vamanjoor (944 9451026).