Compassion in action is the aim of a missionary originally from Wanganui, Merania Karauria reports
Colleen Redit left New Zealand for India in 1964 where she has lived for over 40 years.
Miss Redit, the eldest of four children, grew up in Wanganui and it was at the Gonville Gospel Hall on the Harper/Puriri St corner where she received her spiritual, educational and physical training which helped shaped her life's work in the slums of Chennai in India.
Miss Redit's autobiography, Realising a Vision through Faith is the story about her founding the Christian Missions Charitable Trust (CMCT) in India, and her work with the neglected, the underprivileged and the "hurting people of the world" which those in the mission say is "God-honouring work".
Miss Redit went to Tawhero School, then Wanganui Girls' College where she studied "home science".
In her second year, Miss Redit's mother Mavis (Maddock) decided she should leave school and start work. Mrs Redit was friends with a woman who owned a kindergarten nearby and made arrangements for her to be a teacher's assistant at a Castlecliff Kindergarten.
Miss Redit said she was not happy there and had no peace.
She worked for a year and went to night school to learn typing. She also taught in three Sunday schools, was a Girls' Rally leader and joined the Red Cross and completed a one-year training period.
But she was determined to further her studies and asked the college principal if she could return to school.
When she finished secondary school, Miss Redit applied for and was accepted for Meyers Park Kindergarten Training College in downtown Auckland.
Miss Redit worked as a nurse-aid at a tuberculosis sanatorium from 7am-4pm each day to save money for her hostel fees and on Saturdays she cleaned homes for extra pocket money.
She returned to Wanganui when she graduated as a kindergarten teacher and was appointed assistant director of Central Kindergarten for one year, and then transferred to Durie Hill Kindergarten as director for a year.
In February 1964, Miss Redit sailed to India.
It was through her ministry that she later opened the Handicraft Centre in the 1970s in Chennai, southeast India, and started a two-year tailoring and embroidery course for girls. For those girls who come from villages located several hours away, they stay in a hostel started for them.
In 1996, she opened a home for orphans and, up until 2011, there were 200 children from age 1 to 21 living there.
She says those children are from the slums and some of the children need special care.
"Some children come to me with just one plastic bag and an old dress and worn-out underwear in it. These are their only possessions and it is terribly moving to see their terrible poverty."