From now on, the missionary of the Immaculate has to apply for a new visa every year, as an NGO employee. The Vimala Dermatological Centre is supported by local people. Among them are Hindus, Christians and Muslims.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Sister Bertilla Capra has again received a one-year Indian visa. The nun, who is a member of the Missionaries of the Immaculate, an institute associate with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) might have had to leave India after working in the country for 44 years in the service of lepers.
Recently, India's Home Ministry told Sister Bertilla, 77, that she can remain in the country until November 2016, but that from now on she has to apply forfor a visa every year.
In the past, the nun was given a five-year visa. In 2010 the government changed the rules andthe sister and other missionaries working in the health field with lepers, must ask for a one-year visa as "employees of non-governmental organizations".
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sister Bertilla expressed her gratitude to the government for granting her a visa.
The Missionaries of the Immaculate have worked for decades at the Vimala Dermatological Centre, located in Versova, a Mumbai suburb, looking after leprosy patients at different stages of their illness. Here they are not marginalized, but help them live with their families and find job opportunities for them.
"What is very nice," said one of the sisters, "is that people around us - Hindu, Christian or Muslim - support us and each day bring rice, cereals, fruits, medicines to the sick ."
"Even doctors," she added, "whether surgical doctors, ophthalmologists or orthopaedics, come to visit the sick and care for them by treating them like other patients."