Archdiocese Inaugurates Shelter Home For Street Dwellers
Bengaluru: Archbishop Peter Machado of Bengaluru blessed an open Shelter Home for the poor and neglected of the streets of the city within the premises of Archbishop’s House. Archbishop emeritus Dr. Bernard Moras inaugurated it in the presence of city civil authorities, heads of institutions and organizations, NGOs, priests, nuns and special invitees.
Fr Edward Thomas, who is the brain behind Dream India Network and foster homes for children in the city and State had always wanted a place for the homeless found in the city streets. By way of introduction, he said Archbishop showed him a place within the compound of Archbishop’s House. Fr Edward, Salesians of Don Bosco priest said the present requirement of shelter could be anywhere near 92,000 people in Bangalore alone. According to the Supreme Court, there should be a minimum of 100 persons in a shelter home. He had opened a dialogue with the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) officials including the Human Rights Commissioner. BBMP and Human Rights personnel Jagadish who opened his alms. Dream India Network and Impact India joined hands for a worthy cause.
The teams surveyed eight zones in the city in 24 days and found 4000 people homeless in four zones. Archbishop Machado and Msgr Jayanathan also went around the city to get firsthand knowledge of the situation by themselves. He washed the feet of 12 street homeless people on Holy Thursday. Fr Edward divided the people into three categories – people with families, the second group of people are able to work and earn and the third category of people are really sick.
Founder and mentor of foster homes, Fr Edward said arrangements are being made for a 20-bedded hospital within the city and within St. Teresa’s Hospital for the poor and needy. Imparting Easter Greetings to all present, Fr Edward reminded that all are resurrected like Jesus to strive towards similar shelter homes.
Dr Peter Machado also wishing all Happy Easter urged those present to start similar types of homes in their own vicinity, Jesus had no place and even for his burial, a tomb was borrowed. As the joke goes in WhatsApp, someone asked Nicodemus why he gave the grave for the burial of Jesus and he replied saying it is only for a night (another version says it is only for the weekend). He met a person in the heart of the city near the city railway station and the bus terminal who was living on the street for the last 30 years and his children were also born on the street.
The government has banned clinics unless a registered doctor takes care of such clinics with a salary of Rs 200000. Dr Machado said unless the poor comes to us, we have no direct contact with them. Archbishop thanked and appreciated the initiative Dr Moras had taken for the cause of the poor and kept the place for the same. He also thanked Green Foundation and all concerned in this regard.
Dr Moras speaking on the occasion highlighted the courage shown by the people to start it. He also lauded the BBMP and other officials including Dr Machado for their contribution to the great work done already. He said the Pope also has done the same in the Vatican. It was apt to have begun this shelter home on Easter Day to take care of the poor and needy.
Deputy Commissioner Jagadish speaking on the occasion said the delay in starting the project was an excuse and not due to the Lok Sabha elections. He also narrated the ordeal they faced to select the place and as to how many shelters to come up. Finally, they identified three major areas they found the concentration of the homeless and got direction to proceed. BBMP has buildings with sufficient space. He appreciated and encouraged the churches, mosques and temples providing for the need. However, he said the religious places should be kept as life jackets. He wished and recommended the government to take the initiative ignoring kidney theft and other inhibitions. He said he has planned to take VRS as the bureaucratic hurdles come in the way of any good work. It is a never-ending process. In all these projects vested interest of people hampers the work. He prefers to call it a ‘Transit House’ instead of shelter homes. It should not be a permanent house for the homeless. Even the destitute should live like us. Quoting a Chinese proverb, Jagadish, Deputy Commissioner, Welfare, said instead of giving a fish for the day, teach them how to fish.
Mahesh, Senior Manager, Programme APPI (Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative) said Delhi has 190 shelters. They are situated near the bus stand and AIIMS. In Bangalore also the shelters should be near the city. And shelters should come up at convenient places in Bangalore as well. Mahesh a handicapped person called upon all to join hands to achieve the dreams of shelters for all homeless and the poor on the streets. BBMP should know it is a huge affair to manage.
At the outset, Fr Paneer Selva Kumar, Secretary to Archbishop Machado, welcomed all for the inauguration of the night shelter. He said it was the brainchild and initiative of Dr Machado that gave birth to the wonderful new open shelter home built for the urban homeless people at the Archbishop’s House campus. Welcoming Dr Bernard Moras he said he was a great inspiration for all during his 14 years of tenure. Dr Moras was a friend of the poor, always had a great concern for them in many and various ways.
Earlier, Archbishop Peter Machado prayed for the homeless poor, those contributed towards the project, the builder and all present at the function.
Among others spoke on the occasion included Fr Antony Prasad, Janardhan, Welfare officer, NULM, BBMP and Br Joseph Suresh who compered the programme. Those present included Msgr S Jayanathan, Msgr C Francis, both Vicars general of the Archdiocese, Fr Anthony Swamy, the chancellor, priests, nuns. Lay leaders and Canossian Sisters who are part of the project. They also presented shawls and garlands to the dignitaries and officials.
The inaugural programme came to a close with a vote of thanks by Fr Martin Kumar, Financial administrator of the Archdiocese.