HUNDREDS of young volunteers, including "hippies," from many coun tries have been helping a Belgian Jesuit priest in Central India to build new villages for disaster victims where famine, flood and disease are commonplace.
The priest is Fr. Michael Windey, S.J., who lectures in the Xavier Institute. of Social Science at Randii, and from Guntur. in the State of Andhra Pradesh, runs a Christian Re lief Organisation. This is art inter-Church project backed by the Indian Government, F.A.O., and the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.
Its offshoot is the Village Re construction Organ isation which works on the principle that foreign aid in the form of money, food and clothes is not the answer. The disaster victims themselves, says Fr. Windey, must be involved. creatively and as whole communities, in a self-help programme of building new villages on new sites.
The programme aims to build 30 villages every year with durable houses, wells, sanitation and community centres.
THREE TESTS Fr. Windey was sent to India 25 years ago to teach social science. He began by establishing producer co-operatives for handicapped people. Then, and ever since, he has leaned heavily on students and young professionals to help him in his work.
Of the "hippies" he has said: "They have plenty of heart to help, but, before accepting them, we must screen them by three tests which assess their capacity to do hard work, to go for long periods without food, and to see how deep their motivation is."