Day 21 – Orphanage Visit

21 Jan
Our welcome to Maher Orphanage

Our welcome to Maher Orphanage

Jenny got up early to observe Prashant’s class while I planned to have a lie in – my neighbours and their revving car antics had other ideas. Ah well, up for some Pranayama instead.
At Midday went across to The Ambience to meet the driver who was to take us to the orphanage. Headed off into the fumes and traffic for what was to be an unexpectedly long and arduous journey. After an hour of careening along we passed back by where we had started from. At this point I thought Nicky was going to spontaneously combust. Another hour later we eventually arrived at the first of the Maher homes where we received a warm welcome and some much needed refreshment. We were met by Sister Lucy herself, the head of the whole organisation – a modern day Mother Theresa.

Sister Lucy

Sister Lucy

After food she sat down to tell us her story (in brief here). She grew up in a sheltered and relatively privileged environment in Kerala and was shocked upon reaching adulthood to find the suffering that was to be found in other areas of India. She became a nun because she wanted to help the poor and was working on the outskirts of a slum in Bombay when she was approached by a pregnant woman in need of shelter. Her husband was violent and also involved with another woman. She had no means of offering shelter and had to send the woman away. Later in the evening there was a commotion in the nearby slum. She hurried to assist – the husband had poured kerosene over the woman and set fire to her. She rushed her to hospital but both mother and unborn baby were dead.
Never again was she going to turn anyone away. Maher means Mother’s home and there is ‘Always room for one more’.
1980-01-09 05.59.25

I was very impressed with her frankness, her openess and her warmth. Her work is not just confined to battered women and orphans, she helps wherever there is need. Food is cooked daily in the kitchen of the home and taken to the nearby slums. She appoints teachers and social workers and goes into the slums to feed, clothe and educate. She will pick up anyone in need of help – women and children rescued from prostitution, the mentally ill, children who have no choice but to beg are given an education and daily food instead. Although her background is Catholic she has equal respect for all religions and she has no time for the caste system. The woman and children are given training in various trades and put through school – she even funds them through University and beams with pride as she recounts the success stories. She invited us to a wedding on Friday – the sixth this year of one of her girls.

1980-01-09 08.03.49
We visited two of the many Maher homes and were greeted with songs from the children. Then we went to a slum and went inside the school she is funding there. So basic – a tin shack, with a few toys – one rusty old bike between maybe 25 kids, but they looked clean, happy and well fed thanks to Sister Lucy’s work. They’ll also have a proper education and a real hope of a good life.
1980-01-09 07.14.41
Sister Lucy is not just the figure head of the organisation, she is available 24 hours a day and often gets very little sleep. She and Suprabha (her assistant) tell each other they may not get much sleep, but they know because their work is good, the sleep they do manage to get will be sweet.

To donate for people abroad:
Maher S.B Account no. 0261101061493
Swift Code – FD Pune CNRBINBBBID
IBAN NO: DE41500700100953458710
Canara Bank, Deep Heights, Nagar Road, Ramwadi, Pune 411014, Maharashtra, India

Children singing for us in Slum School.

Children singing for us in Slum School.

 

day-21-prashant

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One Response to “Day 21 – Orphanage Visit”

  1. Diana Penny January 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Hi Tamara
    I’ve just caught up on your blog: it’s completely fantastic!
    Thanks so much for all the detailed info and the stories,
    Diana

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