MOTHER’S HOME – AN OASIS OF PEACE & AN ISLAND OF SANITY, Sr. Usha Macwan OP writes about her mission in India:
Ahmadabad, one of the developed cities of Gujarat (India), Gomtipur - a haphazard area which takes us back to the painful memories of the riots. People in this area cater to the labour needs of nearby industries and factories. But with the closing down of mills, people became jobless. Riots became a means to vent their frustration.
Instead of resolving issue of livelihood, they began to make Ghettos along the lines of religion and released all their pent up energies on each other. The riots of 2002 was not only a manifestation of this problem but was also compounded with political instigation for their own desire to capture power. Interaction with other communities was reduced to a bare minimum and it took very little for communal hatred to flare up.
In such scenario, we do find the islands of sanity, individual and group acts of extraordinary courage that defied the tide. St. Mary’s Community of Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary, situated in Gomtipur area of the city of Ahmadabad, is one such Island of Sanity or to say a place known as “MOTHER NU DAWAKHANU”- Mother’s hospital or Home, where people of the area feel at home and accepted. It was this feeling of belongingness to St. Mary’s that thousands of People (almost 5000 women, children and men) took refuge in the compound and the Nursing Home of St. Mary’s during the Post Godhra riots of 2002. The sisters of the community have braved the raging storm at great risk to themselves to save lives and to help retain a glimmer of faith. Even after the riots, the sisters continued the rehabilitation work of building the houses, distributing the materials like, food, clothes and medicines. They also paid home visits to the families, counseled those who were depressed and shocked and helped them to face life with courage to live again in the midst of chaos. They not only provided moral support but motivated the women to become independent by providing them the opportunity to become independent economically.
St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan Kendra provides livelihood opportunities to the hundreds of women of the area to live with dignity. The remarkable point of this centre is that, in spite of all the long history of riots and divisions of the community, the women belonging to the diverse community, work together; where in they do the marvelous work of embroidery and mirror work adding colours to their lives. St. Mary’s Nursing Home too provides excellent medical services with its dedicated and committed staff to the people of the area especially to the women. The Humane Touch of the sisters and the staff not only heals the women physically but supports the women morally who belong to the vulnerable community.
Therefore, we can proudly say that St. Mary’s is a place of inter-religious and inter cultural centre-informal in its method and practical in its approach-where everyone irrespective of religion and caste, practice the dialogue of life. Everyone cherishes the feelings of fraternity, equality and friendship. In the midst of the abandonment, hatred and riots, the collective acts of humanity and courage of Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary stand out as beacons.
- Sr. Usha Macwan OP