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June 14, 2016

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  SR. LUCY KURIEN: SHELTER FOR DISTRESSED WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Sr. Lucy Kurien, 'Maher', Pune, Maharashtra

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‘Maher’ is a word meaning mother in Marathi.  This was the first shelter established by Sr. Lucy Kurien 19 years ago in Pune.  Today it has 29 homes in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Kerala.

Being attracted by the mission of Mother Teresa, the young Lucy naturally chose to be a nun.  For 10 years she functioned had a sequestered existence.  But the view of the vagabond existence of the poor made her join the organization Hope, in which she worked for another 8 years.

It was then that the point of no-return happened in her life.  A pregnant  woman from the neighbouring slum approached her for shelter from the violence of her husband.  As she had to seek permission for taking an inmate, she sent her back with the hope that the next day her problem would be looked into.  The same night she was burned to death by her husband.  As the hospital gave Sr. Lucy the charred body of an infant, her heart was scarred by a burning stick of sorrow.

By the advice of a priest from Hope, she realized that her calling was among the  poor and destitute.  She wanted to provide a home for the vulnerable women.

She received a donation of 1 lakh from a German musician.  With that she purchased land in village.  Then by crowd-sourcing the goodness in the people, she was able to raise money in fits and starts to complete the building in 1997 after 4 years.

The initial period was tough and they had to do with the salvageable portion of the damaged vegetables discarded by the sellers.  The next challenge was to overcome the propaganda that she was converting people to a different religion.  A crowd of 70 who once came with weapons to finish her off, left after seeing the symbols of all major religions in the prayer hall of Maher.

Women, children and men are taken care of in different  wings of Maher.

She has received the Nari Shakti award from Central Government and Leadership award of the Global Women's Summit.

 

Courtesy:  Chaitralakshmi (text), Tibin Augustine (photo), Vanitha, March 15-31, 2016

"The time is always right to do what is right."