The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo – Eastern province

The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo – Eastern province

Adrien Villa, # 28 Surappatu Main Road, Vinayagapuram,
Kolathur P.O Chennai 600 099
St. Charles Borromeo

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Gummidipoondi

O’ our Founder Fr.Adrien Bresy we wish to offer this Platinum Rose to you in remembrance and in gratitude for all that you have accomplished on earth and for the intercessions and supplications you make from heaven for all of us.
Precious Platinum Rose dropped by Little Therese of Lisieux from heaven, is a hardy hybrid tea rose, in bright crimson, with round double petals; it is a vigorous shrub which grows up to one meter.

The two spiritual giants whose footsteps we follow are our founder Fr.Adrien Bresy and our Patron, St.Charles Borromeo. During their life time all their yearning was ‘what more could we do for the people of God!’ The celebration of the Platinum jubilee of our mission in 2004 compelled us to do something more for the neglected ones of the society. A proposal that soared up was to start a HIV/AIDS centre. The first step toward the actualization of this project was to form a team that would chalk out the action plan and systematically work at it. Sr. Alphonsa Paul, Sr. Laly Kuriakose and Sr. Lucy K.were the members of this team.

The analytical study made by this committee of this abandoned group of the society, the HIV/AIDS patients has revealed that in India as elsewhere AIDS is often seen as someone else’s problem, as something that affects those who live in the margins of society, whose life-styles are considered immoral. Even as it moves into general population, the HIV endemic is misunderstood as stigmatic among the public. People living with HIV have faced violent attacks, been rejected by families, spouses and communities and even refused medical treatment; discrimination also alarmingly common in the health care sector. Negative attitudes from health care staff have generated anxiety and fear among many people living with HIV/AIDS. As a result many keep their status secret as some even commit suicide. The silent tsunami of HIV/AIDS has claimed 20 million lives worldwide so far.

The ‘Trio’- Sr. Alphonsa Paul, Sr.Laly Kuriakose and Sr. Lucy K.did a lot of spade work. They set out to Salem as they were given hope to find many home based HIV/AIDS patients living devoid of adequate human care. The hurdles they faced indicated to them that this was not a feasible place. They stayed in Kolapalur Community and travelled to Erode and to the neighbouring villages, conducted awareness programmes to conscientize the people about this dreadful disease. Rather than getting support and hope they arrived at dead end of the road.

As optimists they continued their search in good faith. Finally they were directed to Gummidipoondi by TANSAC (Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society) where they could find home based patients. Sr.Saroj the Provincial Superior sent a letter of request to Most Rev. Dr. A.M.Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras Mylapore to start a centre in this locality. The permission was given through a telephonic message on October 3, 2005.

On October 18, 2005 Sr.Saroj, Sr.Sagayam, Sr.Alphonsa Paul and Sr.Laly met the Most Rev.Dr.A.M.Chinnappa and got His approval in person to start the work at Gummipundi. Sr.Mary Queen, the Provincial councilor in charge of MSP of the Eastern Province accompanied Srs.Laly and Alphonsa to Prithvinagar to tidy up the house. On October 20, this house taken on rent was blessed by the parish priest Rev.Fr.Amal Sudhakar IMS. Sr.Saroj, her councillors, late Sr.Loyola, Sr.Assunta, Sr.Sagayam, the Superior of Charles Villa- Perambur, Sisters from Adrien Villa Rev.Fr.Gnanprakasam, Parish Priest of Lakshmipuram, the Religious Sisters of the parish and a few parishioners were present on this occasion. The pioneers started their work with great enthusiasm. They visited PHC (Public Health Centre) at Kottakara, Ponneri and different parts of Thiruvalluvar district and came in contact with quite a number of HIV/AIDS patients. On December 9, 2005 a stretch of six acres of land was purchased from Mrs.Vasantha at Kuruvattucherry Village and registered.

As the sisters came in touch with more and more patients the need for setting a centre became imperative. On April 4, 2007, the foundation stone for a centre for AIDS patients was blessed by Rev.Fr.Amal Sudhakar. Sr.Jaya, the Provincial Superior, along with her councilors and Sisters from Adrien Villa were present. The sisters shifted from Prithvi Nagar to another rented house at Kuruvattucherry close to the land so as to supervise the construction work. The hard work of Srs.Gracy Pothen and Elizabeth James at this time is praiseworthy. The incomplete Sisters’ quarters was inaugurated by Rev.Mother Benedicta Lobo, the Superior General and blessed by Rev.Fr.Amal Sudhakar IMS on January 16, 2008.

The official opening of the Convent and the Community Centre took place on April 2, 2008. Rev.Sr.Jaya, the Provincial Superior unveiled the slab and Most Rev.Dr. A.M.Chinnappa, the Achbishop of Madras- Mylapore blessed the house.

A recent newspaper in Chennai states at least 50 fresh cases on an average are reported everyday to the Government Hospital of Chennai. It is no small wonder that Sisters of St.Charles have plunged into this new venture of educating and creating awareness and prevention of this serious epidemic. Carlo Bhavan at Gummidipoodi cares for the home based AIDS patients. Caring for the uncared is the hall mark of Carlo Bhavan, Community Care Centre. The presence of a doctor in this care centre is a great blessing. He is committed to his profession and makes himself available according to the needs of the patients. He is ready to extend his service in person or offer his advice and give directions even over the phone when required.

Out Patient Department

The dispensary functions throughout the day as the patients come from near and far distances. Sisters offer their services even at night.

In-patient Department

Positive cases of HIV/AIDS are admitted in the centre. While they are given good care through required medical treatment and good nutrition, the Sisters maintain their communication with their families through visits, counseling and prayer that gradually changes their attitudes towards their dear ones and accept them back into their homes.

Mr.Jayakumar a HIV/AIDS positive case abandoned by his wife and children was found in the Government Hospital. He was referred to our center, Carlo Bhavan, by a councilor at the ART centre from Chennai at the last stage of his life. Intense care, concern and acceptance was given to him by our sisters. But after some days the killer disease made Jayakumar its victim to death. To get legal support to bury the dead was a hectic task. Finally Mr. Paul DPM (District Program Manager) enabled us to perform the burial rites.

Carlo Bhavan has great scope for extending its service to many more deserving HIV/AIDS patients. A group of trained staff and sufficient infrastructure are the immediate needs to be fulfilled. Let us hope that the Lord who inspired us to begin this good work will provide us with everything we need to pour His compassionate love on our needy brethren who are ever on the increase.

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