Mangaluru: Preach the Gospel and Heal the Sick! ‘Snehasadan’- Caring for People living with HIV

“This is my vocation, this is my resolution and my entire purpose, to serve the poor sick, as serving my kins and princes, because in serving them i serve Christ our Redeemer”- St Camillus de Lellis, the Founder and patron of the Camillian Order

“We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace”- His Holiness Pope Francis

Mangaluru: Camillians, a Order founded by St Camillus de Lellis are called to serve their brothers and sisters-this means helping them to stand up and walk on their own, exercising their fear of the unknown and expanding their minds through education. It entails feeding them when they are too weak to feed themselves, opening their eyes to the realities of life, challenging them to let go of hurts and prejudices and liberating them to even-greater horizons of transcendence and beauty.

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This is how the Camillians continue the healing ministry of Jesus so that ‘the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and deaf hear, dead are raised to life-the good news is proclaimed to the poor (Luke 7:22). “Snehasadan” – a St camillus Care Home located at Kaikamba, in the outskirts of Mangaluru is run by the Camillian Fathers, who take care of the adults and children affected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Currently there are 43 residential children and 15 adults, who are being cared for by the Camillian priests and staff. ‘Snehasadan’ functions as one of the care and support initiatives of Sneha Charitable Trust owned and operated by Ministers of the Infirm (Camillians)-India. “Snehasadan” take pride core in values” Care, Compassion, Commitment and Competence. It’s vision is to ensure human dignity in the given reality.

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‘Snehasadan’ which was established in the year 2001, since then the community of this organization along with the staff, volunteers, donors and well-wishers have rendered selfless service to the less fortunate in the society by becoming eyes to the blind, feet to the lame (Job 29:15) and by becoming the true witnesses of the merciful love to these poor sick children and adults. For their selfless service, dedication, commitment, sacrifice, and love to these less fortunate folks, the government presented “Snehasadan” with Karnataka State Award for its service to the welfare of Children on Children’s Day (14 November 2105) in Bengaluru-the award was presented by KJ George-Minister for Bengaluru Development, and Smt Umashree-Minister for Women and Child Welfare. The Governor of Karnataka, Vajibhai Vala also presided over the award ceremony”

The mission of ‘Snehasadan” is to be a positive force in addressing the comprehensive needs of the sick, ensuring their dignity and overall quality of life, by motivating, caring, supporting and rehabilitating, with a priority for the care of special children. Their vision is to bring total health to all and to promote a culture of life ensuring human dignity in the given reality. Their core values are- Care, Compassion, Commitment and Competence. Apart from ‘Snehasadan’ -Mangaluru, there are six other similar centres in India. At present ‘Snehasadan’ has 65 beds facility for the patients including 43 children and 15 adults.

Speaking to Mangalorean.com, Fr Antony Kunnel MI, Director of ‘Snehasadan’ said, “The award that we received is the fruit of the collective efforts of many. We appreciate the kind blessings and support of Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’souza-the Bishop of Mangaluru- we thank Eugene Rent and family-Mangaluru for the gift of 2 acres of land on which Snehasadan now stands. My sincere thanks to all the past and present staff, priests, parishioners, government officials and departments, friends and well-wishers , and also Rosa Mystica School at Kaikamba, who were all responsible for us getting this prestigious award”.

He further said, “At Snehasadan, living and sharing with Sneha kids is one of the most amazing experiences in my life. Celebrating life with them is what holds me together with each passing day, giving them hope and helping their dreams come true is how I love them and guide them. I am doing this for I love being part of a place where love and hope abound in plenty. One day one of our kids poured out her heart saying, “What an illness! My life is meaningless. It makes my life lifeless, makes me hopeless. What an illness! It killed my brother. Everyone hates me because of this illness. what an illness”

“Welcome to this world of ours. Friends of Sneha Kids project was born from the idea that together we can all make a difference and bring HOPE to the life of children at Snehasadan. Some of our visitors and volunteers quickly realized that it’s worth being part of it. With the Grace of God around us we make awesome plans like these, and see our 43 kids grow, study in public or private school and there is more; they kick and run around the play ground, sing and dance all the way, very often to be found in muddy or tattered boy clothes. Hum..that’s anything but perfect. And that’s just the living of our “Story of Life” at Snehasadan. Thanks in million to everyone who made our Home of Love more loving and endearing” added Fr Antony.

Going to the History and Background – Snehasadan, St. Camillus Care Home, is the third ministry initiative of Camillians in India under Sneha Charitable Trust. The whole idea of starting this centre began with the initiative of Eugene Rent, a Rotarian from Mangaluru, and also the owner of Eden Aquatic and Sports Club-Mangaluru. Rent, along with the Rotarians of Mangalore mid town, donated two and a half acres of land and invited Camillians to Mangalore to open a centre for people living with HIV. This new joint venture between the Camillians and the Rotary club began formally by the laying of the foundation stone by the Bishop of Mangaluru Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, on June 1, 1998.

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At this crucial period of the Order, the delegation was under the leadership of Fr Siby Puthenpura. The delegation council appointed Bro Luca Perletti as the contact person between the Camillians and the Rotary. After the term of office of Fr Siby Puthenpura, Fr Ernesto Nidini came as the delegate and due to his unexpected departure from India, Bro. Luca took over the responsibility of the construction which was continued even after Fr Babychan was elected as the Delegate. In May, 2000, Fr Jayan Chamakkalayil and Fr Pascalis were appointed to look after the construction and establishment of the centre. The centre was blessed and inaugurated by the Bishop of Mangalore on February 4, 2001, in the presence of many Camillian religious and members of the Rotary club.

In July 2001, Fr Joshy Kanjirathamkunnel took charge as the director of the centre, and began admitting patients in August 2001. It was under the administrative skills of Fr Joshy, Jaison Narikuzhiyil, John Kakkarakunnel Snehasadan grew to a well-established community care centre. The 65-bedded centre has also added orphan and vulnerable children (OVC) component to its care plan from 2002, and with that Camillians in India kick started one of its major care interventions in HIV scenario. They served Snehasadan till July 2004, when Fr Naveen Mathew took charge as the new director. Bro. Madhu and Fr Santhosh were his colleagues in leading Snehasadan to provide services to the sick and the needy.

In March 2006, Fr Siby Augustine joined Snehasadan family as the administrator. Fr Naveen, Bro. Madhu and Fr Santhosh got transferred in July 2007 and Fr Joy Inchody was appointed the new director of the centre and Fr Teji Thomas as the Patient Care coordinator. Fr Suneesh replaced Fr Teji in July 2008. In July 2010, Fr Antony Kunnel was appointed the new director. Fr. Lijo took charge as the Administrator on 22nd March and left for Trichy Seminary in July 2014. Fr Teji Thomas Anickattuvaylil MI is the present Administrator of Snehasadan who took charge on July 2014. Fr Antony continues to be the Director of the Centre.

Major Ministries/activities of Snehasadan Community : Ministry at the centre for Children and adults; Administrative activities; Net working with other NGOs; Camillian Task Force Mission of community members; Fund raising activities; Spiritual/pastoral ministries; HIV/ AIDS awareness programmes; Hospitality. Other Specific Ministries/Activities of the Community include- Regular Eucharistic celebration at Rosa Mystica convent; Confession, Holy Mass at neighbouring parishes, convents (on call); Lecturing in St Agnes by Fr. Antony Kunnel (one month); Transportation of patients and children to Hospital and Accounting.

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Snehasadan began with the intention of serving the HIV/AIDS infected people of Dakshina Kannada region. Here, a comprehensive approach help patients regain their health, confidence, dignity and will to rejoin the society. The centre still continues with the vision of its founding members, though the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) component was added to its care plan. At present Snehasadan takes care of 43 OVC and nearly 15 adults, moreover, it had undertaken a number of outreach programmes in the neighboring villages and communities. National AIDS Control Organization had recognized Snehasadan as a community care centre for PLHIV. It provides value-based formation and education to children to help them build self esteem and confidence.

Services provided at Snehasadan include Psycho-social services; Counselling; Nutritional care; Ongoing educational support; Spiritual support; Referrals and linkages; Medical services; OI management; Palliative care and pain relief; Nursing care; ART referrals; Diagnostic services; Physiotherapy; Training of family members; Support meetings and Counselling; Out patient care; Positive prevention activities / workshops; and awareness programmes and Workshop.

Camillians ushered into the care of orphaned and vulnerable children in 2002, with Snehasadan admitting HIV-infected children together with their parents. In many cases, when their HIV-infected parent/s died, no extended family came forward to look after these children. Therefore, Snehasadan started providing shelter, nutrition, education and necessary treatments to them. Later, the care of these children turned out to be the focal point, and addressing their various needs and issues a comprehensive care plan was implemented. Combined with the existing formal education system, the programme strives to provide psycho-social support and value education to equip them to live their lives joyfully and responsibly. At present the centre provides care to 46 children.

Camillian Task Force India (CTF) -Camillians Task Force is an organization that carries on the humanitarian mission of the Camillians, delivering relief (physical, psycho-emotional, social, and spiritual) and empowering persons who are victims of natural and human-made disasters of every kind (flood, tsunami, hurricane, cloud burst, landslide etc).

In conclusion, according to Mathew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, ….”, we should know that giving is something done voluntarily. Giving should not be done under compulsion, coercion, duress, or conviction. There are some exceptions, of course. When you do give, you are to give what you have chosen in your heart. Those who take pity on those less fortunate than us are true neighbors and care givers..

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There are many reasons to give – we give in order to help fellow citizens in need, help the poor and less fortunate, people with disabilities, and even help family members in distress. All you have shall some day be given – therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. We should never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up. The place to improve the world and society is first in one’s own heart, head and hands. The joy of being able to bless and give someone you love and care, and to make them smile, is priceless. The satisfaction that comes from making a difference in the lives of others cannot be overstated.

Knowing that you have helped make someone else’s life a little brighter and better is a special feeling, and one that will last with you for a long time. And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy. So if you are looking for a way to enhance your act of sharing and giving experience, try giving back now. Let’s give to the less fortunate, ashrams, non-profit organizations, needy families and children, and others a feeling of hope, and make a difference in their lives. And one place you can donate some of your wealth is “Snehasadan” -a St Camillus Care Home, where the Community members are inviting well-wishers and friends to be partners in their endeavors to help the persons living with HIV to live a life of dignity.

At ‘Snehasadan” they are proud of their accomplishments and thankful to the Lord for his providential care shown to them and their inmates. They rely on the generosity of patrons/benefactors. Each day, donations from concerned people qualitatively prolong the days of infected and add to the happiness of affected back at home. Many individuals, families, parishes, colleges, have generously donated in kind and cash for the day to day maintenance. Open your hearts and give generously to a good cause and make a difference in the lives of these less fortunate. I end this column with thought-provoking words of Mother Teresa:

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in. I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things. A life not lived for others is not a life. Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

You can transfer funds to A/C: Sneha Charitable Trust; A/C No: 0046053000005873; Bank: The South Indian Bank; Branch : Hampankatta, Mangaluru; IFSC/NEFT: SIBL 0000046

Or for more details contact: Snehasadan-St Camillus Care Home, Kaikamba Post, Kaikamba-Mangaluru-574151 Ph: 0824-2258119; 2258119; 9448118119
Email : snehasadan05@gmail.com Website : www.snehacharitabletrust.org

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