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Norfolk priest Pat’s heart is still in Indian slums 

Rev. Pat Atkinson of Blofield has dedicated 40 years to local church ministry, but is best known for her work in India with slum children, cancer patients, lepers, and street elders. She was honored with an MBE in 2006 and was featured on Esther Rantzen’s Hearts of Gold TV program in 1996. Despite being 76, she still conducts a few services a month in Blofield and remains deeply connected to her work in India through the Vidiyal Trust charity. The charity operates a residential shelter for street elders, provides meals for slum residents, offers education for slum children, supports cancer patients, provides monthly aid to a leprosy colony, and has built a children’s home in Kerala.

The Vidiyal Trust charity, founded by Rev. Pat Atkinson, has been actively involved in numerous humanitarian projects in India for the past 34 years. They focus on supporting marginalized communities, such as street elders, cancer patients, slum children, and leprosy colonies. The charity’s work has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of individuals and has helped former sponsored children achieve successful careers. Despite the challenges faced, Pat remains optimistic about the future, believing that India’s infrastructure development will reduce the need for such projects eventually. Water scarcity and drought in certain regions remain ongoing challenges that the charity continues to address.

Pat emphasizes the importance of long-term ownership and responsible stewardship of assets when undertaking overseas projects. The Vidiyal Trust, as a registered Trust in India and the UK, ensures that all donations are used for charitable purposes approved by the organization. Pat has never taken a salary for her work and has funded her numerous trips to India herself. With the assistance of her colleagues, including Muthakumar, a former client turned project manager, the charity has successfully implemented various programs that have had a significant impact on the communities they serve. Additionally, Pat looks towards a future where the need for such projects will diminish as India’s infrastructure continues to develop.

Despite the challenges and hardships faced over the years, Pat reflects on her time in India with gratitude and acknowledges the impact her work has had on the lives of those she has served. The charity’s efforts have saved countless lives and brought about positive changes in attitudes towards Christians in Madurai. Motivated by the belief that helping the marginalized is akin to serving a higher purpose, Pat continues to be inspired by the words of Matthew 25:40. As she looks towards the future, Pat remains hopeful that the changes and improvements in India’s infrastructure will lead to a better quality of life for its people, reducing the need for the charity’s intervention in the long run.

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