A 3-in-1 Celebration at Vishwas Trust for Elderly

“Happy birthday Dear Dr Olinda Pereira! Time definitely flies when you’re having the time of your life. We bet you can’t believe you’re already 90. We definitely can’t — you look and act so young for your age. It only took you 90 years to look so good, so happy and so young. You don’t look a day over your 80th birthday, let alone a decade. Hope your 91st birthday is a wonderful celebration of the amazing you. Happy 91st birthday!”- Team Mangalorean

Mangaluru: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour ..The Lord has done great things for me, Holy is his name” – 15 August was indeed a great Day, especially at Vishwas Trust for the Elderly-Valencia, Mangaluru, where they celebrated triple feast: The Assumption of our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven ( a Catholic Feast); the 70th anniversary of the independence of our Country; and the 91st Birthday of Dr Olinda Pereira. On this, the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, Catholics truly had to celebrate as the First Reading from the book of Revelation tells them “the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head”. On 70th independence day, we truly celebrated the beauty and diversity of our country and above all on this Golden day, family members, relatives, friends and well-wishers who had gathered at Vishwas Trust truly sang the ‘Magnificat’ with Olinda as she completed 90 years of her arrival on earth, and steps into her 91st year.

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Olinda as a Daughter of the Heart of Mary, has in more ways than one, tried to imitate Mary, her model in O-wnership, L-eadership, I-nteriority, N- urturing, D-edication and A-vailability. Through her exemplary life, we all know, she has meant so much to so many people all these years from the time she made her first profession in the wake of Vatican II exactly fifty four years ago. As we celebrate the beauty and significance of this day, let us thank the Lord in a very special way for giving us three Golden GIRLS in our life: Mother Mary, Bharat Matha and Dr Olinda Pereira.

On the outset before going further with this article on behalf of Team Mangalorean I would like to extend heartfelt birthday wishes to our dear friend Dr Olinda Pereira by saying, “Throughout your life, you’ve made it your mission to be loving, kind, gentle and true. Mission accomplished! Now, our mission is to shower you with our love and gratitude. At 91, you’re not old or young. You defy description. You’re a time-tested classic! You seem to be more carefree in spirit and younger at heart with every passing year. To us, you sparkle like a brilliant gem. And the years have not diminished your special glow — they’ve only made you more luminous. This is the perfect occasion to celebrate you and your life. You are more than our role model-you are our heroine!”

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Dr Olinda Pereira is well known educationist and a visionary – who with her foresight and determination has made a great contribution to the world of women. Having been the former Principal of the very well known School for Social Work – Roshini Nilaya in Mangaluru and associated with a number of women organizations all around India, Dr. Olinda Pereira is a indeed a name to reckon with. She is a true embodiment of selfless sacrifice and commitment to her work and in spite her being 91 years old, she still gives of her time and efforts to women and the elderly in particular.

The Independence Celebrations at Vishwas Trust began with the flag hoisting at 9.15 am on 15 August by chief guest Sharmila Vidya Sagar- Associate Professor, Dept. of MBA at Sri Devi Technical Institute, Mangaluru (and also a active volunteer at Vishwas Trust), along with Director/Founder of Vishwas Trust-Dr Olinda Pereira and other dignitaries. The formal programme began with invoking God’s blessings through a prayer song by Jessie Baretto, a volunteer at Day care Centre, followed by welcome address by Felcy Pinto, administrative staff at Vishwas. The cultural entertainment comprised of songs in Hindi, English, Kannada and Konkani performed by staff and volunteers of Vishwas. A two-minute silence was observed to pay respect to the brave soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedom. Vidya Sagar in her speech emphasized the meaning of Freedom got through Independence and urged that everyone should be corrupt free and as Indians live without creating violence, hate and racism. Felcy proposed the vote of thanks, while the entire event was compered by Sushmitha, a MSW student.

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Dr Olinda Pereira: ” You will never grow old!”

-A tribute by Dr Olinda’s nephew Fr Cedric Prakash Sj

The American singing legend Nat King Cole was born in 1919 more than 91 years ago ! In the early-fifties one of his love songs “You will never grow old!” took the world by storm. True it was a love song – but the haunting lyrics and melody of this amazing song also dwelt in essence with growing old gracefully! Olinda Pereira would have been in the prime of live when the gramophones of yester-years would have been popularizing this song .Not sure if she ever heard it then or at any other time for that matter; but one thing is sure that today on her 91st birthday this love song is certainly an apt tribute to a lady of substance who in many ways refuses to grow old – leave alone ‘allowing her hair to turn grey’ or to ‘sit and dream in an old rocking chair!’

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“You will never grow old!” -today dearest Aunty Linda aka Olinda I am sure that the hundreds of youth whom you have groomed and nurtured over the years as educationist , Principal , guide, mentor and friend will be echoing these words as they remember the way you have accompanied them in their journey of life. You left no stone unturned to ensure that they take their rightful place in society ; you motivated many of them to selflessly serve others.

“You will never grow old!” – is a sentiment that will be shared by many of your companions, colleagues , family and others Whether you were in Mangaluru or in New Delhi ; in France or in Ethiopia – you always made friends and reached out to them in very personal and specific ways. You have always been able to communicate a spiritual depth , a great intellectual calibre and a loving warmth which has endeared you to them. For many you are and will always be a priceless treasure.

“You will never grow old!” – is a chorus which many poor, simple, ordinary people will be singing today ! The way you have touched their lives is legendary .You have done so in your own unassuming and hidden ways . You have made live worth living for them Many of them will bear testimony to this.

“You will never grow old!” – yes the many ” old” ( most younger than you) who are today associated with VISHWAS will be shouting out these words in a variety of voices You are their beacon of hope , a shelter a refuge . They too eagerly await the ‘Golden Village’ of your dreams! They are patient because of your love , care and understanding. You mean the world to them.

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In conclusion, She is a woman of deep faith and ever since I was a little boy, I realized that she possessed this sterling quality in great abundance. The faith she is imbued with is a triple one – faith in God, faith in others and faith in herself. When one goes through what she has achieved in these 89 years, one will easily realize that all this would not have been possible if she was not a woman of faith. The second quality which strikes me is her fortitude. In spite of the many challenges she has had to face, she has persevered and come out from every situation even stronger. Being born on the day we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, I cannot but help feel that the faith and fortitude which Mary possessed has rubbed off in good measure on my Aunt “. So in thanksgiving dearest Aunty Linda ,we celebrate another year of the Lord’s abundant blessings upon you. May He give you his grace and strength as you hasten towards your centenary We join the many choirs of today, your birthday, in singing “You will never grow old!”

The Author: Fr. Prakash is a human rights activist belonging to the Gujarat Jesuit Province. He is currently based in Beirut Lebanon and works on Advocacy and Communications with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria, Iraq , Turkey , Jordan and Lebanon)

About Dr Olinda Pereira :

Olinda Pereira was born on 15 August 1925 in Mangaluru- she had her Ph.D. Mysore University, Mysore; M.A.., Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.; B.T., St. Ann’s College of Education, Mangalore; and B.A., St. Agnes College, Mangalore, (Madras University). She was later a Internee, Institute of Women’s Studies, Manila, Philippines- 1996; Administrative Assistant, Provincial House, Nairobi, Kenya: 1991-1994; Director, Institute of Social Service, Prabhatara, New Delhi: 1985-1990, 1997-1998; Exchange Professor- School of Social Work, McMaster University, Hamilton Canada. 1978, 1979, 1984; Principal, College of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya 1961- 1984; Member of National Committee on Women in 1979

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Her publications include: Understanding Children – 1,2,3, Sallak Publications – 1974; Adjustment and its Correlates among Pre-adolescents – Preeti Publications – 1977; Domestic Workers Struggle For Life-A.T.C Publications – 1985. Dr Olinda Perteira is presently involved in the Care for the Elderly.Visits to the Direction Day Care Centres for Senior Citizens Helpline for Senior Citizens, and Establishing a Golden Age Eco Village for Senior Citizens.

Dr Olinda Pereira is a recipient of various awards namely : Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award, McMaster University, Hamilton 1979; Women Achiever Award – St Agnes College 1997; Sandesha Award for Social Service: 2002; Rachana, Woman of the Year: Mangalore Catholic Chamber of Commerce 2008; Woman of the Year Award – Mangalore University 2009; Veera Rani Abbakka Award for work in the field of Social Service -and Outstanding Manager Award 2011- Mangalore Management association, and many more.

Dr Olinda Pereira who is a person of courage, strong faith, values, ideals, love, and years of wisdom makes her who she is. She always stands up for what is true and what is right and knows what is truly important in life. I feel she is indeed a blessing from God, and I respect her with love and gratitude. She has helped shape up many families, their ideals and beliefs, and through her example of steadfast, fervent and humble and friendly touch, Dr Olinda has been an inspirational role model for her family/other families, relatives and friends. Her spiritual life bears witness to the joy of loving, the dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and the surpassing worth of faith in God. We all should simply adore her qualities and ideals, thereby accepting her as a role model in our lives.

Dr. Olinda Pereira and one would picture her only as a pioneer in the field of education or women empowerment. Always engrossed in her work, she has the will and the way to serve Humanity. Her special interests are in the Women’s development and one can see that from the numerous associations she has associated herself with. She has been the School Assistant at St. Mary’s High School and was earlier the Principal of School of Social Work Roshni Nilaya, Mangalore. She is also the Director of the Institute of Social Service, Prabhat Tara, in New Delhi and her love for the Elderly has encouraged her to start and be the Director, Vishwas Trust (Home Based Care for the Elderly) which is rendering yeoman service to the elderly.

One very notable feature of her contributions to the Catholic Women of India is that she was instrumental in organizing the Council of Catholic Women of India. This has been a great move and has helped the catholic women of India to come together under one forum to discuss the pressing issues that pertain to women development and also interacts with the world body of International Catholic Women (WUCWO).

Dr. Olinda Pereira has been responsible for developing a syllabus in Women’s Studies in the M.S.W. Course and for attempting to set up a Women’s Studies Centre. True to her commitment, she wishes every women march forward to progress. Says Dr. Olinda Pereira “Work towards education and self-empowerment and become self reliant and equal partners with men. Dr Pereira as a person congenitally disposed to be a pioneer in building human development institutions, like the Roshini Nilaya of Social Work; developed agencies like Janatha Kendra, Family service Agency, Child Guidance Clinic, and Navajeevan Marg.

Sent to Nairobi by her Superiors, Dr Olinda developed a centre which serves as a meeting point for the members of her congregation working in the countries of East Africa. Dr Pereira has functioned as a trustee of NGOs like the Butterflies in Delhi who work with the street children making a living on the streets, Link De Addiction Centre, Shubhadha Society for Women in Distress, promoted the Federation of Welfare Agencies in Mangaluru and has been an associate and advisor to many who value her experience and expertise as evident when she was appointed to the prestigious membership of the National Women’s Commission. Dr Olinda Pereira in her capacity as Director of the Services to the Elderly offered by Vishwas, she has promoted not only the Trust but also the Consortium of organizations in Mangalore, that render service to the Elderly and linked it with organizations associated with Helpage in Bengaluru..

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