When Vicente Ferrer died earlier this year there must have been some concern for the fate of his project in Andhra Pradesh, India. This Spanish missionary, along with his extraordinary wife, Anne Perry, dedicated more than four decades of his life to improving the lot of some of the sub-continent’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens via the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.

Barcelona-born Ferrer originally arrived in India in 1952. Posted to Mumbai as a Jesuit missionary, even this cultured and educated man was shocked by the level of poverty that he encountered. Unfortunately some of the Indian authorities viewed Christian charity workers such as Vicente as a threat to the political system and in 1968 he returned to Spain. The following year he met British journalist Anne, his future wife, left the Jesuits and returned to India with her, settling in Anatapur in Andhra Pradesh.

Between them the Ferrers have concentrated their efforts on the welfare of the lowest castes in society, with Anne focusing specifically on the fate of untouchable women, whose lot has historically been to remain the on lowest rung of India’s complex and intricate ladder of castes and classes.

This year the Vicente Ferrer Foundation opened a new school in Anantapur, which will offer over 100 disadvantaged children a fully integrated education with classes not only in the more traditional areas of English, Maths and Computing but also in nutrition, psycho-social and medical health.

Representing his own charitable foundation, Rafael Nadal was in attendance along with Anne Ferrer, and showed great interest in the school – especially the sports facilities. Some of the children enjoyed a few games of tennis with Nadal on the school’s three courts.

He later revealed that the Rafael Nadal Foundation is to support the Vicente Ferrer Foundation financially. So impressed was he by the enormous difference the Ferrers have made to the lives of the poorest people of Andhra Pradesh that he is eager to see their work continued.

He later stated, “I am very pleased to be here to see the school and to meet the children who are going to study here. I hope that they enjoy it, and that they make the most of this project, which will help them to develop and receive all the attention that children of their age deserve. I hope that I can come back in a few years and see that those who are studying here today have a new life.”