A Visit to Grace Home – Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu
Welcome to Grace Home for Girls in the city of Nagercoil in the state of Tamil Nadu, at the very southern tip of India. It is situated on the grounds of Concordia Lutheran Seminary, and all the school-aged girls attend the Concordia Lutheran High School on the Seminary grounds.
Grace Home draws poor girls, orphans, semi-orphaned and destitute or abandoned children from villages surrounding Nagercoil. Some have experienced the death of one or both parents, some experienced desertion and rejection and some have families who are so poverty-stricken that they are unable to care for their children. Without Bethania Kids’ intervention, possible outcomes may include prostitution, forced begging and labor and various other forms of abusive exploitation. The transition to the disciplined, structured life at Grace Home is sometimes difficult, but made easier by the support and encouragement from the other girls who have had similar experiences. With the loving care of the staff and the daily provision of nutritious meals, health care and hygienic living, these girls soon flourish. They are full of energy and fun, and also show great respect to the staff and to one another.
As you drive through the gates of the compound, you see it initially as a place of tranquility. The many mature trees, flowering bushes and vegetation are a refreshing reprieve from the heat and noise of the city. You will also notice the playground equipment, laundry hanging out to dry and the girls playing, picking fruit or watering the plants. Visitors are welcomed with an Indian Emblem which is like a welcome mat. The home is a two-story U-shaped building with a small courtyard in the middle and open porches facing the courtyard on both levels. The girls’ bedrooms and an office run along the sides with the dining room at the base. The kitchen is located in a separate building in the back where food is most often cooked on open fire pits. Upstairs are additional bedrooms, as well as the Otten Memorial chapel, a large classroom and the library. Were you to visit, the girls would be very excited to show you around. Their bedrooms, equipped with bunk beds and cubbies, are kept tidy and have a separate single bed for one of the women staff members who sleeps with them. Although there are sheepish smiles on the faces of those 11-12 year-old girls when you ask how they sleep on their beds that are piled with books and clothes, they admit they prefer keeping their things on the bed and sleeping on the floor mats in the usual Indian tradition. Gardens include tapioca trees, banana trees, mango trees, and jackfruit trees.
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
A Place of Safety and Love
Will you hold my hand as I walk you through our Grace Home? I want you to see the home where we live, learn about everyday life and how we grow in faith and love under the guidance of the staff who care for us. We are a close family. We grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally and academically. Most of my sisters here come to Grace Home when they are young, some about 4-5 years old. It is scary coming here for the first time as we have all experienced something sad in our lives. We miss our families and we must get used to new surroundings. We are truly loved here and soon we grow in that love. My sisters cared for me when I arrived and made me welcome because they knew how I was feeling from their own experience.
As we grow up here, we learn of our rights as women and the importance of education for the future. The leaders of Grace Home since the beginning have been advocates for the rights of women and they teach us to be confident and independent. When we are 18 years old, we must leave Grace Home (by law), so it is important we are well-prepared for life on our own.
Grace Home recently received an award from the Indian government as the best home in the Nagercoil area, which is a testament to the excellent care, management and commitment of our staff. Grace Subhia, for whom the home is named, made education and vocational training for women a top priority so they would go into the world with confidence and the resources needed to lead independent lives. The Grace Home girls are excellent models of Ms. Subhia’s philosophy as they continue to win scholarships and awards and go on to become nurses, teachers and accountants. Under the tutelage of the highly educated teachers and tutors on staff, the girls spend many hours studying and take their academic achievements seriously.
It’s not all seriousness, though. We also know how to have fun and play. Visitors are treated to some amazing dance performances by various age groups. Music is also a large part of our lives. We make music for ourselves as well as in praise of our Lord during devotions and at church services.
Meet the Staff of Grace Home
Staff at Grace Home have dedicated their lives to the welfare of needy women. They are remarkable in their service and dedication. Since its inception, Grace Home has been known for its emphasis on education and spiritual growth. Many of our staff at Grace Home are degreed teachers. The staff in the photograph include Selva Soraja, Raja Perinbadass, Jeyatakshmi, Muthu Priya, Vijaya Rani, Renjitham, Thresammal, Murugan, Vasantha Kumari, and Jessy Muthammal.
The Grace Home was voted the Best Residence Home in the region by the local government. Shown is Selvi Monikaraj, former Director of Grace Home, accepting the award from the regional government official. The overseeing government agencies have used Grace Home as an example of a model facility.
Meet some of the girls at Grace Home: Jessima and Shalini
Jessima and Shalini Vijayan are examples of the enormous difference Bethania Kids can make in the lives of two young girls. Their father was Christian, and their mother was Muslim. Because of the different faiths of the parents, both of their families disapproved of the marriage and continually harassed them. Their father ultimately committed suicide when he could no longer stand the emotional torture from his relatives. Even after his death, the mistreatment continued, driving both girls and their mother out of their home. Jessima and Shalini’s pastor brought them to Grace Home, where they are now fully engaged with their new family and friends and excelling in their studies. The people from their village are so thankful these two abandoned girls found a home at Grace Home.
Every evening in their devotions, the girls at Grace Home pray for their sponsors, and give thanks for the numerous benefits that Bethania Kids provides for them. Through your generous support, you can transform the lives of these impoverished children, bringing them love and hope.
History of the Grace Home for Girls
Grace Home is named after its founder, Grace Subbiah, a single woman who dedicated her life to the rights and welfare of women in India. She was a member of the Indian Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC). Grace started the Dorcas Tailoring School for women on the grounds of Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Nagercoil. A few years later, she started the home for young women that was named after her. Grace died suddenly in 2010. Selvi Monikaraj, who was on the Local Committee for Grace Home at the time of Grace’s death, stepped quickly into the leadership position. Selvi Monikaraj served for 10 years as the director of the Grace Home. Selvi’s husband, Rev. Dr. Daniel Monikaraj, was the President of Concordia Seminary next door. Selvi too passed away suddenly in 2018. Selvi was known for her loving care and for fostering education, a strong spiritual life, and preparing young girls for their life after leaving Grace Home. In 2018, Grace Home was selected as the Best Residence Home in the region. Selvi received the award from local officials.
Selva Saroja became Director of Grace Home in 2019. Selva had served as a counselor to the girls for many years and was also a member of the Local Committee for Grace Home. She knows all the girls well and was the perfect choice to succeed the former Director. The cornerstone of the building recognizes Al, Polly and Bob Hennig who were instrumental in starting the home.
How you can help!
- Sponsor a Child at Grace Home for $50 per month or $600 per year, covering all the necessary expenses for one girl.
- Scholarships for college and vocational training and support of our education makes a big difference to our futures. Make a gift to “Scholarships” in the Comprehensive Campaign.
- We have a great new computer lab. We can use additional software, new computers, and AV speakers and amplifiers. Make a gift to “Communications” in the Comprehensive Campaign.
- Churches or individuals can make gifts to fund the monthly or annual expenses of Grace Home for Girls in Nagercoil. Monthly expenses for Grace Home = $3,150.00; annual expenses = $37,800.00
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
There are countless ways to participate in this vibrant ministry and share God’s love with the children at Bethania Kids.
Our 100% Promise
We channel 100% of every penny donated into direct ministry for children.
For more information about this and other ministry topics, please contact Bethania Kids at firstname.lastname@example.org or