SOJASI stands for Society of Jesus Agricultural and Social Institute.
We are located in a purpose-built structure, in the small village of Chimney, high above Kurseong in the Himalayas in West Bengal, India.
SOJASI is a training centre. We want to give practical training to village people or anyone who is interested in learning Square Meter gardening methods (SMVG), oyster mushroom production and organic composting. Later on we want to add computer and oral English, which we think will be more attractive and useful to young people. The length of the training courses will fit the needs of the group being trained.
Besides these training programs, we take care of eighteen school going children who need help. We live together in Morningstar, a large home in Kurseong. The children range in age from 6 to 20. Three of the older children are getting technical training one in nursing, one in computers and office work, and one at the Indian Technical Institute.
SOJASI at present is under the Xavier Educational Society of North Bengal, associated with the Darjeeling Province of Jesuits.
SOJASI is the offspring of SASAC (St. Alphonsus Social and Agricultural Center) under the guidance of Fr. J.M. Abraham, S.J. Our location is the former SASAC2. SOJASI took ownership of the training center building and lands at this location. Because of three years of abandonment and damage done by Hurricane Aila and a landslide on the property, the building and the vegetable beds needed significant repairs. We are re-learning, rebuilding and gathering resources to continue the work with the poor that had been going on here.
SOJASI has an eight-person Managing Committee (Board of Directors) and a ten-person on-site staff. The Managing Committee provides advice and oversight. The members of the staff meet together to make all important decisions about the day-to-day running of SOJASI.
Fr. J.M. Abraham, S.J.
Fr. Abraham has been working with the poor in the Kurseong area for over 60 years. He built St. Alphonsus School as a school for the poorest and pioneered a work education program using a poultry on the roof. Later he established SASAC, a home patterned on the traditional Indian extended family and a training center for agricultural education. SASAC developed many educational programs for the poor, including the types of training now given at SOJASI.
Fr. John Lobo, S.J. President of Board Fr. Lobo is the Treasurer of the Darjeeling Province of the Society of Jesus. He represents the Xavier Educational Society of North Bengal.
Fr. Cherian Maliekal S.J. Secretary of the Board
Fr. Maliekal is the Superior at Wery Niwas, the Jesuit community in Kurseong. He also teaches English, History and Political Science at St. Alphonsus School.
Fr. John Kennedy, S.J.
Fr. Kennedy is the Director at Hayden Hall, Darjeeling, a private, non-profit relief and development association that focuses on providing opportunities to poor families through empowering women.
Ms. Radha Karki.
Ms. Karki is the Administrator at Hayden Hall, Darjeeling and has over twenty-five years of experience working with development projects. She has a diploma in Social Development from the Cody Institute, St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada
Mr Jaideep Rai Mr. Rai is a former student of Fr. Abraham’s at St. Alphonsus School. He is now the Manager of the Mirik Tea Garden in Kurseong. He is very interested in and knowledgeable about organic gardening.