By Nirmala Carvalho
Mumbai, Sept 27, 2019: Sister Martha Mondal is the founder of the Helpers of Jesus Sisters in Mumbai. She spoke to AsiaNews about her experience ahead of October’s Extraordinary Missionary Month.
In 1999 she founded the Sneha Sagar (Ocean of Love) Society in East India, a suburb of Mumbai, to help “orphans, street children, HIV-positive children, destitute elderly and women,” she said.
Today the organisation is a public association with nine communities in Mumbai, Vasai and Nashik.
“I started my work out of pure love of God and the poor under divine inspiration, depending totally on Divine Providence,” she explained.
“I thank God for his faithfulness and blessings to the Helpers of Jesus over the years working in the Archdiocese of Bombay,” and “for being with us and helping us to accomplish the mission entrusted to us.”
The motto of the Helpers of Jesus Sisters is to “reach out to the last, the lost and the least”.
“Our sisters work with love and dedication. Everyone is loved and accepted, giving hope to the abandoned, making a better place for all to live in,” Sister Martha said.
“My dream to embrace more and more poor and the marginalized is still alive and active.”The Sneha Sagar Society was established to provide “free education to children living in the slums and training courses for women to become economically independent.”
It “works among the poor and needy, educating children as well as rehabilitating socially handicapped and orphaned children and destitute women. The women are also given non-formal education in child care, health, hygiene and human rights”.
Within the Helpers, postulants and novices “read and meditate on the Word of God, molding themselves to be followers of Jesus. It is a divine period for a novice to integrate herself.”
The Sisters also study “basic psychological counseling, nursing care, information technology. They can also attend a ‘Know yourself’ course offered by professionals.
They also study the Holy Scriptures, liturgy, Christology and the spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi who is our patron saint.”The Society has two facilities for orphans in Malwani and Vasai, and one for HIV-positive children in Ahmednagar.
The children are poor, come from different castes and creeds, from different part of the city. These facilities are a “home away from home that shelters the homeless abandoned children and those from broken families.”
The “children sometimes have a traumatised childhood; there is an outburst of insecurities, fear, anger, aggression, low self-esteem. They find it difficult to accept their backgrounds”.
For this reason, the nuns try to lead them on a “journey inward to bring about holistic growth and development.”
Once this starts, “Gradually we see a change in thinking, attitude, value system and outlook in life.”The Sisters also run two homes for destitute women in Naigaon and Mira Road.
“Some of them are missing cases brought by the police and some are mental cases sent by social workers.”Typically, the women “cannot afford to pay. So we provide for their basic needs and medication. Doctors visit our Homes to ensure they have a healthy mind and body.”
“The elderly destitute women are looked after with utmost care and empathy in a pleasant atmosphere to help them live a peaceful life till their last journey.”The Sisters are also active in cases of natural and other disasters.
They brought relief to eight monsoon-affected villages in Kerala, and have helped people on Madh Island, in Punjab and Gujarat.
On 15 February 2019 they began providing food for about a hundred homeless people once a week.
In Malwani they bring rice, beans, sugar, lentils, clothes, blankets and soap to some 50 poor families once a month.All of this is possible because of donations.
For this reason, Sister Martha is keen to “take this opportunity to thank our well-wishers for their continuous moral support and generosity towards our organisation” and for their prayers “for the Helpers of Jesus so that we may be able to grow and give our services to the poor and needy.”