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When the French Revolution that took place from 1789 to 1799 in France, it brought about a massive impact which spread through the world in several small and big ways through the next several years. French society underwent a vast transformation as individual privileges disappeared and old traditional ideas were replaced with new. The Church became divided, and the clergy came under severe assault because they were associated with the nobility, and soon enough, all forms of religious life came under attack. In 1790 a devout French Jesuit, Fr. Peter Joseph de Cloriviere decided that he would strive to reinstate the glory of the Lord in the minds of the people of the time. He established the Society of the Heart of Jesus and the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary in Paris. "The glory of God and the good of the Church" were to be the two primary aims of these societies, and Marie Adelaide de' Cice joined forces with Father de Cloriviere in this noble venture to serve the poor at the same time upholding the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary led by Adelaide de Cice gained popularity amongst the women of Paris and the women of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary could live without the cloister and uniform in the hearts of people. The movement started to spread to other parts of the world, and in 1961, Vimalalayam came into existence at Ernakulam .
The Daughters of the Heart of Mary worked for the uplift of the poor and underprivileged people of the time providing several opportunities for employment to the lower and upper classes. The DHM was also involved in parish work, pastoral work and teaching outside the Center all for the Glory of God.
Our Founder held the fond dream and vision of providing the ways and means to empower poor women in need and their families, and thereby the entire society by making arrangements for sponsorship and aid. It was by no means an easy task to work out how to make this dream and vision come true. However as some once said, “When the world says ‘give up’, Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time...’” and this was the principle our Founder adopted. She sat down to analyse how she could successfully accomplish the fulfillment of this dream, so that an entire society and its thinking could be changed by empowering the women in it. She decided that the first step would be to undertake the economic uplift of the family.
In 1961, Maria Paiva Couceiro, a Daughter of the Heart of Mary from Portugal decided to set up a house for the Daughters of the Heart of Mary in Ernakulam, and on February 11th 1961, Vimalalayam came into being. The early Daughters of the Heart of Mary at Vimalalayam exerted a strong influence which was highly accepted by the later Daughters, and thus helped in the activities and growth of Vimalalayam.
The sisters at Vimalalayam decided to train the local women in the art of basket weaving to make them economically independent. As the news spread, thousands of women from nearby islands of Vypeen, Moolampally arrived at Vimalalayam eager to learn this craft and they soon benefited economically, spiritually, psychologically and socially by this. Later on the Sisters started to help the women in the upper strata and a Welfare Center, a College of Home Science, and a Hostel for deserving students were also set up associated with Vimalalayam.
The Vimala Welfare Centre was established with an aim to provide employment to poor women in the society. Our products include bags (of various shapes and sizes), coasters, utility boxes, table-mats, runners etc made of banana fibre.
Vimalalayam hostel provides accomodation to students of the Vimalalayam College and for other College going students.
Vimalalayam College, one of the traditional Women colleges established in Cochin Kerala is managed by the Society of the Daughters of Heart of Mary. Vimalalayam College is highly honoured for its higher education for women and has established itself as a bench mark of excellence for promoting education, quality of living and technical education for women.
The college aims at imparting human values and technical skills to the students while maintaining academic excellence. This enables them to take their stand in the modern world as responsible and enterprising women.
We have sisters involved in Pastoral work; Sisters as teachers working in Schools & Colleges; working as Counsellors. In 1995, the Sisters at Vimalalayam started associating with other charitable institutions like Don-Bosco.They offered to take care of more than a dozen girls who were in the dangerous situations or from the street.Valsalyabhavan was set up for this purpose. The Corporation of Cochin has recently offered a two storey building with all modern amenities to accommodate these girls, as a mark of appreciation for the good work being done.
In 2008, Adelaid Bhavan was started to accommodate girls who successfully passed their SSLC Examinations. Girls who wished to go for higher studies were placed in the college, and are now continuing their studies with great success. The other girls have been engaged in working at the embroidery section of Vimalalayam.
In 2013, Don Bosco Fathers has started a residence at Vaduthala under the supervision of Vimalalayam sisters for high school students coming from ValsalyaBhavan and other institutions .