Special Days

Special Days

Special Days

April 12

2 April : World Autism Awareness Day

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood. Caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, it is a life-long condition with no medical cure.

It affects communication, speech, gesturing and listening. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently. Early signs of autism can be detected at the age of 2-3 years. If a child does not make eye contact while speaking and does not respond when called by name or gestures, then a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Signs of Autism can include:

  • Repetitive movements, words or phrases as well as limited interests or activities;
  • Avoiding eye contact or physical touch. Over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain;
  • Learning disability or speech delay in a child;
  • Getting upset by minor changes;
  • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty in communicating and interacting;
  • Difficulty in understanding facial expressions and tone of voice.

Once one learns about this neurological disorder, it is easier to break the stigma around it, to understand it and behave sensitively with the person. Screen time (use of electronic devices such as TV, mobile, tablets) should be kept at a minimum. Instead, the child should be given toys, books and interactive home-based situations.

As of 2016, autism affects about one child out of 68. It is estimated that one out of 42 boys will end up being diagnosed with autism. Boys are five times more likely to have the disorder than girls. In India, 1 in 89 children suffer from Autism. This disorder affects males and females of all races in all parts of the world.

Access to assistive technology at an affordable cost, can reduce the barriers to their participation on an equal basis with others. But more than 50% of these persons who need assistive devices are not able to receive them.

Let no one be left behind. “Let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres

6 April International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

This is an annual celebration of the power of sport and sports organizations to drive social change and human development, to foster peace, reconciliation and understanding.

Sport can promote tolerance and solidarity among the participants, fans and people all over the world. Historically, it has played an important role in all societies, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play.

The United Nations defines the right of access to and participation in sport physical education and play as a Fundamental Right for all. But this has often been ignored or disrespected.

Sport as a universal language can be a powerful tool to promote peace, tolerance and understanding by bringing people together across boundaries, cultures and religions. Its intrinsic values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game are understood all over the world and can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

Sport programmes permit encounters on neutral territory and in an environment where aggression can be controlled, regulated and transformed and hence facilitate reconciliation between opposing parties. Although sport alone cannot stop or solve an acute conflict, it represents a flexible and cost-effective medium for post-conflict relief work and peace-building as well as conflict prevention.

The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace promotes healthy lifestyles and focuses on giving as many people as possible access to sport. It is a passion shared by women and men across the world and promotes physical well-being and social empowerment. It is a powerful instrument to nurture the values of solidarity, responsibility, respect, honesty, teamwork, equality, motivation and self-esteem, including everyone, even the most disadvantaged, including refugees and migrants.

Physical inactivity leads to an estimated 3.2 million deaths every year.

We must do everything to support sport. Make sport for all a reality, and leave no one behind.

Sr Esme da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days

Special Days

Mar 10

20 March 2019: International Day of Happiness
A meaningful special day founded by a homeless orphan who became a philanthropist.

It was founded in 2011 by Jayme Illien, philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor.

Thirty-two years before founding the International Day of Happiness, Jayme had been an orphan rescued from the streets of Calcutta, by Mother Teresa’s Sisters. He was later adopted by a forty-five-year-old single white American woman named Anna Belle Illien, who then founded Illien Adoptions International, Inc, a non-profit child social welfare and international adoption agency.

Illien chose March 20 for its significance as the March equinox, a universal phenomenon felt simultaneously by all of humankind, and which occurs the moment when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk.

Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations; a fundamental human goal and a human right.

This year’s theme is “Share Happiness.”  It focuses on the importance of human connection in the context of the epidemic of loneliness and isolation in modern societies.

This holiday was initiated by our small neighbouring country of Bhutan. According to statistics, its citizens are the happiest people on the planet.

What is happiness? For one, it may be family, for another money, or travel etc.  But even when we have everything we dreamed about, we may still not feel happy.

Do you really want to feel happy?

How to Build a Happy Life

Take responsibility for your happiness. Others can help or hurt you, but no one can make you happy. That task is one’s own.

It is like building a home. The foundations for this “home” (happiness) are seven: love, faith, purpose, simplicity of life, forgiveness, gratitude and the ability to enjoy the ordinary pleasure of life.

Depending on your attitudes, you can learn to enjoy the work you do, the people you are with, your age, your state of health, just everything in life. Develop a positive attitude to life.

Happiness is an inside job. It comes from within. And you have a right to be happy.

21 March: Down Syndrome Day
These persons need our special care, and they teach us precious lessons.

Down Syndrome (also called Trisomy 21), is a common genetic birth disorder where extra genetic material causes delays in a child’s mental and physical development. While each cell in the human body contains twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, individuals with Down Syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome.  This disorder is present in all regions of the globe, across racial, gender and socio-economic lines. It affects about one in eight hundred births worldwide.

The syndrome is associated with mild to moderate learning disabilities, growth milestone delays, certain facial features and low muscle tone in early infancy.  People with Down Syndrome are more prone to various infections due to low resistance.

There are no set treatments for Down Syndrome, but adequate access to health care, early intervention programmes and inclusive education, as well as appropriate research, are vital to the growth and development of the individual.

A wide variety of educational support programs and counselling sessions can help the child and the families concerned to improve their motor movements and social, language and cognitive skills. There are also schools that help these children to socialize and develop important life skills.

This Day is observed in an appropriate manner in more than sixty countries worldwide, in order to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down Syndrome. Funds are raised by several charitable Associations for supporting research and information on medical and scientific advances in this field.

This year, Down Syndrome International focuses on: Leave no one behind

 All people with Down Syndrome must have opportunities to live fulfilling lives and be included on a full and equal basis with others, in all aspects of society. The activities and events on this Day showcase their abilities and accomplishments.

Values, such as perseverance, empathy, desire to excel, enthusiasm for the little things, generosity, naturalness, the importance of living in the present … are some of the things people with Down Syndrome teach us, and this enriches all of us.

Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days

Special Days

Feb 02

4 February: International World Cancer Day

The Celebration raises awareness of cancer and how to prevent, detect or treat it. The primary goal is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer. It is an opportunity to raise our collective voice to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.

Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), which estimated that 84 million people would die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 without intervention. Low-income and medium-income countries are harder hit by cancer than the high-resource countries. It is essential to address the world’s growing cancer burden and to work on effective control measures. This calls for a strong alliance between researchers, health-care professionals, patients, governments, industry partners and the media to fight cancer.

New strategies and programmes need to be implemented in India to fight and control this deadly disease. More than 12.7 million are diagnosed with cancer. More than 7 million die of cancer every year. The various types of cancer and death ratios per year are liver cancer (6,10,000), lung cancer (1.3 million), colo-rectal cancer (6,39,000), stomach cancer (8,03,000), breast cancer (5,19,000).

People need to be instructed to check its symptoms, follow its preventive measures, protect oneself from environmental carcinogens and be saved from the risk of this disease. Risk factors causing cancer are use of tobacco and alcohol, overweight, low fruit or vegetable intake, less or no physical activity, sexual transmission of HPV-infection, air pollution in urban areas, indoor smoke, genetical factors, over-exposure to sunlight, etc. People are also made aware about the vaccination method against the human papilloma virus and hepatitis B virus.

There are social myths that cancer is contagious and communicable by touch, so that patients are sometimes ostracized and treated as untouchables, whereas in reality they need a lot of support, care and concern, comfort and understanding.  Patients have equal rights to live like normal persons in society with self-respect and a normal environment in their home and society. Their wishes should be fulfilled by their relatives even if they have less chances of survival. Yet over-sympathy or pity may only increase their pain and fear. A new positive approach that cancer is curable is needed to boost their courage to fight the disease.

14 February: Valentine’s Day

 Valentine’s Day originated as a Western Christian feast day in honour of the Saint, a Roman priest martyred in 270 AD and considered the patron saint of lovers. He was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to persecuted Christians.  Valentine was interrogated by the  Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and attempted to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer, Asterius.  He wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

The expression “From your Valentine” was later adopted by modern Valentine letters. According to legend, Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.

Another legend has it that to remind these men of their vows and of God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St Valentine’s Day.

The celebration of Saint Valentine did not seem to have any romantic connotations until Chaucer’s poetry about “Valentines” in the 14th century.  Marking the beginning of spring, Valentine’s Day has more recently been celebrated as the day of love.

In spite of its obscure origin, this day has become a very popular day dedicated to love and friendship, fidelity to marriage and the family. A day to remember and cherish. It brings out what is most beautiful in human life and relationships.

Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC To subscribe to the magazine, click Subscribe


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Special Days

Special Days

Jan 15

27 January: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Day commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War: the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 5 million Slavs, 3 million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original concentration camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combined concentration/extermination camp), Auschwitz III–at Monowitz (a labour camp to staff an IG Farben chemicals factory), and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941. Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazis’ ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Question’ during the Holocaust. From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed en masse with the cyanide-based poison Zyklon B, originally developed to be used as a pesticide. An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and tens of thousands of others of diverse nationalities, including an unknown number of homosexuals. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labour, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was sent west on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on 27 January 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In the following decades, survivors such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947 Poland founded the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979 it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Every member nation of the U.N. honours the memory of Holocaust victims. We must go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world.

It rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief.

It is a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights and do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights.

We also focus on the disabled community that was one of the many victim groups of the Nazi regime.

The day is celebrated with exhibitions on the Holocaust—films, photo-albums, autobiographies, diaries and memoirs of survivors to give people a first-hand experience of what it must have been like.   

There is a quote attributed to Stalin who ordered the death of several million citizens of the USSR: “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” So true, isn’t it? When someone dear to us dies, it is a personal tragedy for us. But when we read about hundreds of people who die in a natural disaster or war, or thousands killed in battles or ethnic fights, this information is merely a number for us, right?

Another sad fact of human life: We do not learn from history. There are persons and groups that promote the kind of ethnic and religious hatred that the Nazis promoted. They do not seem to see that it is not only inhumanly cruel, but it is also self-destructive. Germany nearly destroyed itself through the madness and mayhem of the Nazi rule. Germans were so ashamed of this part of their history that they would not teach it in schools; they did not want their children to know what they had done during the Nazi rule. Germany also became the most hated country after the war. It took several decades for them to rise from ashes, with gigantic US aid and help from elsewhere. German also went out of its way, once it was financially strong again, to regain the good will of people elsewhere through foreign aid.

Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days


NOV 01

16 November: International Day for Tolerance

In 1995, the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, UNESCO created a special prize,  the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize that rewards significant activities of institutions, organizations or persons, in the scientific, artistic, cultural or communication fields for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. The prize is awarded every two years.

TOGETHER is a global UNO campaign to promote tolerance, respect and dignity, to reduce negative perceptions and attitudes, and to strengthen the social contract between host countries and communities, refugees and migrants.

This Day is an occasion for people to learn to respect and recognize the rights and beliefs of others; to reflect, discuss and debate on the negative effects of intolerance. Other activities include essays, dialogues and story-telling of people’s personal accounts of intolerance and how it affects their lives. Human rights activists also use this day as an opportunity to speak out on human rights laws, discrimination against minorities, all forms of racism, xenophobia, exclusion and hatred.

Globalization has sharpened inequality, poverty, enduring conflicts and movements of peoples. Diversity is seen as weakness. There is a rise of exclusive politics. Barbaric terrorist attacks are designed to weaken the fabric of ‘living together.’

Tolerance is more than indifference and the passive acceptance of others. It is an act of liberation, a struggle for peace, accepting the great diversity of humanity, reaching out to others across new bridges of understanding and dialogue.

Cultures differ from one another in many ways, and also share common elements. But humanity is a single community. There are seven billion ways of ‘being human’.

We pledge:

  • to defend humanity’s cultural diversity and heritage from pillaging and attacks,
  • to prevent violent extremism through education, freedom of expression and media literacy,
  • to empower the young to strengthen dialogue between cultures and religions.

Tolerance is an act of humanity, which we must nurture and enact each in our own lives every day, rejoicing in the diversity that makes us strong and the values that bring us together.

19 November: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

The Day draws attention to the emotional and economic devastation caused by road crashes. It also recognizes the work of support and emergency services.

Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent and traumatic events. Their impact is long-lasting, often permanent. Each year, millions of newly injured and bereaved people from every corner of the world are added to the countless millions who already suffer. Road crashes are the leading cause of death in people aged between 5 to 34 years. Every six seconds someone is killed or injured.

The grief and distress experienced by this huge number of people is all the greater because a significant number of the victims are so young. Many of the crashes could and should have been prevented. But the response of governments and society to road death and injury and to bereaved and injured victims is often inadequate, unsympathetic, and inappropriate to a loss of life or quality of life.

This special Remembrance Day is therefore intended to respond to the great need of road crash victims for public recognition of their loss and suffering. It offers the opportunity to demonstrate the enormous scale and impact of road deaths and injuries and the urgent need for action.

Many events can be held on this Day:

  • Remembrance services and flower-laying ceremonies in memory of dead road victims;
  • Reunions of affected families and friends;
  • Media campaigns and coverage, video presentations on road traffic crashes;
  • Awareness campaigns on the risk of speeding traffic .

Slowing down is a safe option.

We all want to arrive safely at our destination. By slowing down, we make our roads safer for our children, families and friends. Research shows that a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes.

Road traffic slogans to live by:

Alert today – Alive tomorrow.
Slow down! Your family will be waiting for you.
Stop accidents before they stop you.
Speed thrills but kills!
Accidents do not happen, they are caused.


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2 October: International Day of Non-Violence

The United Nations observes this Day annually on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most influential political activists of all time. He was born in India in 1869 and through his efforts, India gained its freedom on 15 August 1947. He was assassinated on 30 January 1948.

Gandhi put forward the notion of “non-violence” and the tremendous impact of this form of social response as a tool for the peaceful resolution of differences and “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence“. He saw the use of violence to achieve peace as completely irrational.

Rejecting the idea that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, Gandhiji would say, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Can’t we hate those who do us harm? No, he insisted, “hatred can only be overcome by love.”

We cannot expect others to change, while we refuse to. Hence his famous saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

This world has had its share of bloody wars that ended countless innocent lives and led to widespread destruction. Non-violence is not pacifism.  It rejects the use of physical violence and advocates other means like protests and persuasion, marches and vigils, multi-faith prayer meetings, candle-light ceremonies, civil disobedience to unjust laws, non-cooperation and non-violent intervention, such as blockades, occupations and sit-ins, to achieve social or political change.

There are people in this world who have made the changes they thought necessary, without the use of violence or brute force. To name but a few – Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela.

These are the type of people that the International Day of Non-Violence celebrates. Read or enact their biographies. Spread their message of non-violence. Find out what motivated them to act as they did, what helped keep them strong even when they saw terrible things happening all around them. These stories are fascinating and inspiring. They teach us the virtues of bravery, compassion, and perseverance. Spreading hatred and violence may look clever, and is easier, but it is self-destructive. No lasting solutions are found through violence.


11 October: International Day of the Girl Child

The International Day of Girls is declared by the United Nations to raise awareness of gender inequality faced by girls internationally, especially regarding education, nutrition, child marriage, protection from discrimination, violence against women, legal and medical rights.

Statistics: The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a formidable source of power, energy, and creativity. But

  • More than 62 million girls around the world have no access to education.
  • Many global development plans do not include or consider Girls.
  • Globally, one in four Girls are married before age 18.
  • Girls, ages 5 to 14, spend more than 160 million hours more on household chores than boys of the same age do.
  • Girls around the world are vulnerable to acts of sexual violence and the perpetrators often go unpunished.

The Day of Girls helps raise awareness not only of the issues that Girls face, but also what is likely to happen when those problems are solved. For example, educating Girls helps reduce the rate of child marriage and disease. It helps strengthen the economy by helping Girls to have access to higher-paying jobs.

The empowerment of and investment in girls are critical for:

  • breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence
  • economic growth, the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty
  • promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys, men and the wider community.

In India, there are a number of things we need to attend to urgently: the killing of female fetuses and of newly born girls (which causes the terrible male-female ration in several states in India); child marriages; the lack of educational opportunities for girls; lower wages paid to women workers; domestic violence; the financial and sexual exploitation of domestic workers, most of whom are women; the lack of toilets in homes and in schools, which puts the women and girls to great inconvenience and causes health problems.

The celebration of the day also “reflects the successful emergence of Girls and young women as a distinct force in development policy, programming, campaigning and research.”


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Sr. Esme da Cunha fdcc

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Special Days


SEP 04

September 8: International Literacy Day

Its aim is to make the people aware and to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies in every Country. A day to remind world leaders, influencers, writers and the general public of the current status of adult literacy and learning.


Some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults are still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

 According to UNESCO’s Report on Education (2006), the lowest adult literacy rate are:

Regions: – South Asia (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%)

Countries: – Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%)

Despite its economic growth, India still remains the country with the largest number of illiterate adults in the world. The literacy rate for India is 74.5% for men, and 65% for women. There is a huge difference among the States in literacy rates, as the Literacy Map of India shows. The rates range from Kerala with 94%, Lakshadeep  and Mizoram with 92% each, Tripura with 88 and Goa with 87%. At the bottom of the ladder as Bihar (64%), Telengana (66%), Arunachal Pradesh and Rajasthan (67%) and Andhra Pradesh (68%).

We can all do something to improve this situation. A school can conduct literacy classes for the neighbourhood; panchayats and districts can hold campaigns to promote literacy. More initiatives will come where there is good will.

The report shows a and Aclear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women. Literacy is the best remedy to eradicate poverty and inequalities across the world

This Day highlights the changes and improvements being made worldwide in literacy development. UNESCO has been central in improving global literacy since 1946, in partnership with governments, charities, local communities and experts in the field worldwide.

UNESCO also announces its International Literacy awards, a prestigious prize recognising excellence and innovation. Submissions will be on “Literacy and Skills Development”, the theme for 2018.

Some of the Themes of the past years are: Education for All, Literacy and Health, Literacy and Empowerment, Literacy and Peace, Literacy in the Digital World.

We celebrate the Day to promote the public consciousness about the extraordinary value of the written word and to encourage the literate rate of society. Literacy has the ability to raise the family status and hence the country status.

It is celebrated to encourage people towards getting continuous education and to take up their responsibilities towards the family, society, the country and the world at large.


September 26:

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations; the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946—after the disaster of Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

Yet today, some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. As of 2017, while there have been major reductions in deployed nuclear weapons since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear warhead has been physically destroyed and no nuclear disarmament negotiations are underway. (For national estimates, see the Chart.)

This International Day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority. It also provides an opportunity to educate the public—and their leaders—about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.

Commemorating this Day at the United Nations is especially important, given its universal membership and its long experience in grappling with nuclear disarmament issues. It is the right place to address one of humanity’s greatest challenges, achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted on 7 July 2017, marks an important step and contribution towards this common goal.

Secretary-General António Guterres:

The dangers posed by nuclear weapons have been forcefully driven home, making this event timelier than ever. Think, for example, of the tension between N. Korea and USA.

We know that the horrific humanitarian and environmental consequences of the use of nuclear weapons would transcend national borders.

 The only world that is safe from the use of nuclear weapons is a world that is completely free of the nuclear weapons themselves.

It is true that we live in challenging circumstances, but this can be no excuse for walking away from our shared responsibility to seek a more peaceful international society.


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Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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Special Days

Special Days


August 9: International Day of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous people, also known as aboriginals, adivasis or natives, are the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area later.

They have a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories and are distinct from the other sectors of society now living there. Foreign or domestic incursions have devastated and decimated these peoples, robbing them of their lands and means of livelihood and deprived them of their natural rights as human beings.

In India, they are listed under “Scheduled Tribes.” They form the majority in some parts of India (e.g., the seven North-Eastern States), significant minorities in some states (e.g., Jharkhand, West Bengal and Central India) and smaller percentages in other parts of India.

Key Facts

  • There are over 370 million indigenous peoples, living in more than 90 countries with at least 5000 diverse cultures and some 7000 languages. Estimates show that one indigenous language is dying every week.
  • Indigenous peoples constitute about 5% of the world’s population…


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 30th July:  International Friendship Day

This day is dedicated to celebrating Friendship—one of the sweetest bonds, formed by a mutual relationship of trust, affection, cooperation, and support between two or more persons. We all need friends, no matter what we are going through or where we are in life.

If two persons can be friends, two families can be friends, two neighbourhoods can be friends, two cities, two nations … the world can be bonded by friendship! What a different world that would be! So, kudos to friendship, the bond between hearts!

A good and true friend is hard to find and, if found, it must be considered as God’s special blessing. C.S. Lewis, the renowned British novelist and poet, said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

So true are these words; no life is worthwhile without friendship. This is the most vital ingredient to live life to its fullest. We need someone special to share our happiness, our sadness and our problems; to share moments of joys and success too.  A true friend is one in whom we can trust blindly; one who knows everything about you and still loves you.

When everything seems to be going against us, it is our friends who fill us with courage and give us courage to keep fighting.  Walking with a friend in the dark is way better than walking in the light alone.

It is a popular custom of celebrating this Day by offering yellow and pink roses to your friends or exchanging “Friendship bands”.

The Miracle of Friendship

There is a miracle called Friendship
that dwells within the heart
and you don’t know how it happens
or even when it starts…


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Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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It is celebrated on the 1st Sunday of May each year, with the aim of bringing peace in the world through laughter.

Laughing and hugging feel good, but few realize how valuable these simple tools can be in improving our sense of wellness. Laughter can help to heal and dissolve everything.

Laughter is the cheapest, most available, effective, palatable and enjoyable ‘medicine’ God created for us. 

Doctors and psychologists have researched on this wonder-drug which they call Laughter Therapy: the use of humor to promote overall health, to relieve physical or emotional discomfort. A good laugh makes us feel better, stronger, more capable of thinking objectively and creatively. We learn to overcome difficulties rather than be overwhelmed by them. It is the body’s natural physiological process to release the painful emotions of anger, fear and boredom.

When we laugh, our body relaxes. Endorphins (natural painkillers) are released into the blood stream. Laughter provides a full-scale workout for our muscles. You do not need to be happy or have a sense of humour to benefit from a good laugh. But who wants ‘fake’ laughter when we can have the real thing?

Psychologist William James said: “We don’t laugh because we are happy; we’re happy because we laugh.”

So: “Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,

        Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.” (John Masefield)

So, laugh. It helps you to:

  • live longer
  • Boosts your Immune System and protects your Heart
  • Relieves Pain and Reduces Depression
  • Improves your Breathing and Blood Circulation
  • Helps You Lose Weight
  • Boosts your Relationships


The International Day of Families is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994, the Year of the Family, and to celebrate the importance of families.

Is the family in crisis?

There is a widespread perception at the present time that something has gone wrong with the family. High rates of divorce, increased marital conflict, rising crime, drug-taking and anti-social behaviour among the young, are all taken as evidence that the family and the social values on which it is based are in decline.

Pope Francis speaks:

“For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can aspire to greatness as we strive to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals.”

Declining family values and divorce affect those who suffer the most—women, children, and the elderly: “We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment.”

How to Observe the International Day of Families 

  1. Volunteer with your family

For example: join an organization that builds houses for those in need. Build a house for a family while bonding with yours.

  1. Reflect on just what family means to you

Family isn’t always blood. It is the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who love you no matter what! Think about what family really means to you, and how you can get closer to the people you love.

  1. Organize a community family picnic

There might be many families in your neighborhood that would love to get to know one another but just haven’t figured out the best way to. Plan a picnic together.

  1. What do people do?

A wide range of events can be organized at local, national and international levels. These include:

  • workshops, seminars, exhibitions
  • educational sessions for children and young people;
  • policy meetings for public officials and launching of campaigns to strengthen and support family units.

Family is what God gives to us. The Family Day is what we can give to one another!

Another Special Day in May: 13th May: Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to do something special for your mother!

Sr Esme Da Cunha FDCC

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