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Bringing smiles to the differently-abled

Home has been looking after the disabled for 78 years

Natalina (left) with a companion Natalina (left) with a companion
  • Julian Das, Secunderabad
  • India
  • March 15, 2011
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Clad in a pink sari, hair neatly combed back, Natalina offered no clue to the fact she is hearing- and speech-impaired and a cancer patient.

There was an electrifying sparkle in the 35-year-old’s infectious smile as she stretched out her hand and welcomed guests.

Natalina is one of 235 women and children, and 95 men living at the Home for the Disabled in Bansilapet, Secunderabad in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Natalina, picked up from a hospital in Secunderabad when she was barely six and diagnosed with cancer two months ago, was enthusiastically serving breakfast to some special guests last week.

The guests included four bishops and twelve priests attending a “Consultation on decentralization of Radio Veritas Asia’s South Asian Languages Program” in the city and had made a brief visit to the Home.

The 78-year-old home, run by St Anne’s Sisters of Providence, is administered by a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian and a Parsi, said the home’s secretary, Father Raymond Ambroise.

Every meal is paid for by locals, says the priest, who’s had an association with the home for 45 years.

Most of the residents were picked up from the streets or hospitals, says Sister Esther George, 77.

All the work except the cooking is done by the residents. Those who are bed-ridden or wheelchair bound are “adopted” by other residents and taken care of, says the retired nun.

Wheelchair bound Philomena, 65, who has been a resident for 54 years, looks after the women and children’s section in the home. She has been nicknamed the “manager”.

Sister George, who has spent 49 years with the home, says it was Sister Mary Pietrina Joseph who shaped the institution’s character during the 45 years she spent there until her death in 2003.

She was called the Mother Teresa of Secunderabad for her services to the disabled, concludes Sister George.

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