Dr. Lavina Noronha Awarded IIPP Outstanding Community Leader ’19 by Max & Jessie Rasquinha
Messiah of the Terminally Ill, Dr. Lavina Noronha was Awarded International Institute of Public Policy (IIPP) “Outstanding Community Leader for 2019” by Founders of IIPP Max and Jessie Rasquinha on the 73rd Independence Day celebration held at Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work, Valencia- Mangaluru on 15 August 2019.
Mangaluru : Quoting Saint 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. It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. 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.”
The above thought-provoking quote by Saint Mother Teresa aptly suits the voluntary and community service shown by Max and Jessie Rasquinha, who are Mangaloreans but settled in Houston/Dallas, Texas-USA, and have been doing yeomen service in sharing their part of their wealth with the needy, and the less fortunate, for the last so many years- and their work is being appreciated by everyone. Apart from their love towards the poor, the Rasquinha couple are the Founders of International Orientation Centre and International Institute for Public Policy (IIPP) , an international organization based in Mangaluru for the cause of policy implementation for public good- and every year IIPP gives a annual award presented to those who have worked selflessly for the cause of humanity in different fields of public life.
The award carries a cash prize, citation and other goodies handpicked by Rasquinha couple from USA. Max and his wife being Mangalorean by heart have been supportive to all the socially relevant activities in his home town (Mangaluru aka Kodiyal) though he has been away for more than 50 plus years now. And every year the Award is presented to the awardee or awardees in the due course of the year when the Philanthropist couple visit their home town. The Rasquinha’s always cherish Mangaluru as their beloved `Home Sweet Home’ even after decades of leaving Mangaluru, wherever they were while pursuing their daily life. And this in recognition for her selfless and dedicated service to the community through her hospice for the terminally ill, Dr. Lavina Noronha was nominated for the `Outstanding Community Leaders of Mangaluru 2019’ Award by International Institute for Public Policy (IIPP),
And the award was presented to Dr. Noronha, personally by Max Rasquinha on the occasion of Independence Day at a ceremony held in Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work, on 15 August 2019, with a saying “New Beginnings Endless Possibilities” on the stage backdrop. The programme began with invoking God’s blessings through a prayer song by students of Roshni Nilaya, followed by brief introduction of the programme by Ms Prof Maria D’costa-the Director of UXCEL, and then by a welcome address delivered by Miss Rhiya Dehnugan. The dignitaries on the dais for the ceremony were- Max Rasquinha as chief guest; Sr Philomena D’sa- Provincial Superior of Daughters of Heart of Mary (South India); Dr (Ms) Julie (DhM)-the principal of Roshni Nilaya; and Miss Rebecca D’souza- a young author who released her FIRST book on short stories on the occasion.
Following the IIPP Award being handed over to Dr Lavina Noronha, in his address to the audience, Max Rasquinha said, “When India got Independence I was only seven years old, and I still remember that joyous day of 15 August 1947. Even though India was once a country of peace and harmony, but not anymore. On this day we should remember the contribution done by Gandhi to our nation. Mahatma Gandhi is revered the world over as one of history’s most transformative and inspirational figures. Gandhi was a fearless campaigner for the rights and dignity of all people, whose constant and unwavering promotion of non-violence as a tool to win over hearts and minds has forever left its mark on the world”
“We need to follow in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, who for 72 years of his life fought for the freedom of India from the hands of the British. Looking at the present situation in India, one would say ‘What happened to our freedom and India”? We see violence, hate, communal disharmony, corruption and what not. India shouldn’t have been in such a position, when it’s emerging as one of the developing country in the world. We need to work together for the unity of our nation, work to eradicate corruption, hate and communal disharmony. Let us work hard for a better and safer India. Let us set aside our differences, and think that we are all children of God alike” added Rasquinha.
Sr Philomena D’sa addressing the audience said, “Today we remember in pride the great leaders of our nation who fought for our freedom. These leaders have inspired us, and therefore we are here to contribute our might for the betterment and to build a strong India. Remember that each one of us are leaders in our own way, and whatever we do belong to our nation. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi where he said, ‘Be the change if you want see in the world”, therefore If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do. All of you youth can bring a change in our Country, by fulfilling your duties and help build a strong and better India”.
Young Rebecca, the daughter of Blossom and Jackson D’Souza of Kuwait, who had written her FIRST book of short stories titled, “Hope That’s Grace” published by Uxcel, Mangaluru was released on the occasion by Max Rasquinha ,the chief mentor of the Toastmasters International in Mangaluru, joined by other dignitaries on the dais. Rebecca has been a avid reader as teenager, and aspires to be a writer of acclaim some day. Thanking all those who inspired and helped her in bringing out the book Rebecca addressing the audience said, “I write to give expression to my creativity and imagination. I want my readers to be able to connect with my stories. My message to the world is, to inculcate the habit of reading because it increases one’s vocabulary, improves one’s writing skills and fluency in the language and enhances one’s confidence too”. Today as she plans to complete her graduation at the S.P. Jain Institute, Singapore, she hopes to be an editor some day, while she continues to follow her passion of scripting novels to be a noteworthy bestseller .
As a token of appreciation Max Rasquinha presented medals to the deserving NCC cadets/achievers on the occasion. A medley of patriotic songs was sung by a group of Roshni students, followed by vote of thanks by Miss Akshaya. The programme was compered by Miss Roveena D’silva, and the Independence Day celebration was hosted by National Service Scheme Unit (NSS) of Roshni. In the past, the IIPP award has been conferred on eminent people like- Former Bishop of Mangaluru Rev. Aloysius D’Souza, Eminent Singer and composer Wilfy Rebimbus, Former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, Rev. Mnsgr. Fred Pereira, Social Work Educationist and activist Dr. Olinda Pereira, Late Rev. Fr. Ronnie Prabhu SJ., Sachitha Nandagopal, Joe Gonsalves, Sr.Maria Shruthi and James Serrao.
Regarding 2019 IIPP Award, Dr Lavina Noronha-the Director of Ave Maria Palliative Care, Vamnajoor-Mangaluru, who has selflessly strived to bring dignity to death and quality of life for those who are terminally ill and have lost hope of life, through her Ave Maria Palliative Care Centre at Vamanjoor on the outskirts of Mangaluru truly deserves this Award. Dr. Lavina M. Noronha is an epitome of humility and dedication as she treads a path less traveled while most would be happy to build their careers towards lucrative professions and self centred growth and personal success. She is a living example of commitment at work in service of humanity, having received her M.Phil. from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore and her Doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.
Dr Noronha served as the Associate Professor and Director of the MSW Program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. To add to that, she has had several years of clinical practice in the fields of mental health, Crisis Respite, Employee Assistance and Hospice in the U.S.A. She also has several professional publications and presentations on a variety of topics to her credit and is the Founder President of CREST International Inc, U.S.A. and a member of the Indian Association of Palliative Care.
Her life changed, when she came to India to be with her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Although, in the past, she had counselled many Alzheimer’s sufferers, it was different when she saw her own father suffer. She saw that there was very little help available around for terminally ill patients and moreover, there was very little that was done to alleviate their pain. She returned to her hometown to start a Hospice, leaving behind her lucrative and coveted job. She joined the CDSE Trust which offered her land to build the hospice unit.
Dr Lavina’s dream project, Ave Maria Palliative Care has patients suffering from cancer, Liver Diseases, Renal Failure and Dementia who need holistic comfort and care. The home is free and anyone is welcome, regardless of religion, class and caste. Dr Noronha has been efficiently managing the 15 bed hospice with utmost professionalism taking along a equally dedicated team of doctors, nurses, care givers and volunteers coupled with the goodwill of many which she has earned over the years of her toil.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean after the formal function, Max Rasquinha said “He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own” is a saying that may be aptly attributed to many a dignitary of Mangaluru, for even from a distance one can observe, year after year, their dedicated service to the community. One can witness, moreover, their charity, generosity and nobility, animated by an attitude of selfless and joyful service. It is but proper that the community expresses its gratitude for all they have done for society by conferring on them timely awards. We have in our list several such leaders who deserve to be recognized and honored”
“They are the prospective candidates for the award of recognition. But for practical reasons, we can select only a few each year to be the recipients of our award from the International Institute of Public Policy. Such timely recognitions are considered essential in order to encourage others to emulate their example and be motivated to render vibrant service to society. All the dignitaries that are dedicating their talents and efforts for our Community and our Society are always been noted and admired for future recognition. Watching the greatness in others is a virtue of greatness in ourselves. It is the Society that gains as an ultimate bargain” added Max. May God bless Max and Jessie Rasquinha- the Good Samaritans that God has created to serve the community!