Gandhiji prem niwas

By and by Mother Teresa was getting some support and cooperation from others besides the monetary help. It is the story of fifties. She still was far away from being able to take up large projects.
She was still operating from her two room Moti Jheel space.
One day, a family abandoned a woman at her door step. Strangely the woman wore ornaments and costly clothes. She revealed her name as Janaki.
The woman didn’t know why she had been dumped there. The fact was that she had developed symptoms of the dreaded leprosy. The family took little time in getting rid of her.
Mother gave her shelter in the one room home, a small room what five rupee rent could get. There were other patients too. So, it posed a problem. Mother would not like to keep a leper with other sick people which could frighten others if the truth was revealed. She must shift Janaki as soon as possible.
The problem set Mother’s mind thinking. She had seen lepers abandoned on road sides in Barrackpore, Sialdah and Garihat pockets. The lepers were in large numbers languishing on the banks of Hoogly in Titagarh.
Those homeless, helpless and hopeless lepers were crying for some one’s attention. Mother made up her mind to answer to those praying cries.
A temporary hutment was built for male lepers. No arrangements for the living of Sisters were there. Hence some Sisters used to visit the shelter once a week with Mother Teresa to give them routine treatment. It was a success any way. The lepers had found a roof over their heads.
Encouraged by it, another shelter was erected to shelter women lepers a week later. Janaki and other female lepers were shifted there.
Janaki was still unaware of her real status. She insisted to be sent home. She told the Sisters that she was badly missing the comforts of her luxurious home. Janaki wanted to know why she was being made to go through the rigours of the shelter? She had three well settled sons.
One was Army Brigadier. Other was a doctor who earned good money. Third was doing a roaring legal practice.
She wailed and insisted upon being allowed to go to her home.
The Sister gently revealed to her the fact that as she was suffering from leprosy, her near and dear ones actually had abandoned her and she would not be accepted back into the family.
The harsh reality shattered her. For quite some time she just stared into space vacantly too stunned to speak. Gradually she accepted the truth and realised how valuable service Mother and her Sisters were rendering to the lepers. She adjusted herself to the norms and realities of the home for lepers.
Those two leper shelters were named ‘Gandhiji Prem Niwas’ by Mother Teresa. She had seen and read about his selfless service to dalits, harijans and the lepers although she had not met him personally. But she had lived through his independence struggle years. So, Mother had great respect for the Father of the Nation.
These homes provide shelter, food, clothing and treatment to the lepers. For those lepers who were on way to recovery, handloom training was given. They made good money which encouraged them to work harder. Then, a time came when these Homes were sheltering thousands of lepers.
New wings had to be added to accommodate them. A leprosy hospital was also come up besides a hostel for the Sisters as the patients needed constant care. Gandhiji Prem Niwas had grown into a big complex which required systematic running.

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