02/10/2009, 00.00
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For Sisters of Mother Teresa, disabled not “vegetables” but “wealth” for humanity

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Missionaries of Charity run a centre for physically and mentally disabled children in Mumbai. The disabled are not “vegetables” but people with “special needs” and a “blessing” for a world that imposes models based on “productivity.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The mission of the Sisters of Charity who run Asha Daan House in Mumbai, a centre founded in 1976 by the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, is to take care of abandoned or physically and mentally disabled children as well as AIDS patients. They also help the dying to leave this world in dignity after being repudiated by their families with no other place to go. The nuns have devoted their life to the service of others, seemingly different people, who have a right however to all the “love, respect and dignity” a human life deserves.

As we prepare for World Day of the Sick, set for tomorrow 11 February, Sister M Infanta, describes a daily routine that is not only one of suffering but also one based on love and sharing between the nuns and the centre’s residents.

“In Asha Daan there are about a hundred children, boys and girls, 83 of which are physically or mentally handicapped,” she explained. “They range from 3 to 15 years of age, but they seem much younger. In some cases mental disability reaches 90 per cent, but each one of them is a treasure, a gift and a blessing.”

“Each life ought to be lived,” Sr M. Infanta said, even if it does not meet utilitarian criteria or is not “productive” according to today’s models.

“These children have been created to love and be loved. They are a unique source of blessing for us, society and the whole world,” she said.

“Children with physical and mental handicaps are not vegetables, but children with special needs,” she said. “They respond to acts of affection, physical contact; they are unique individuals capable of communicating. We know this as do the volunteers who work at the centre; even if responses may just be slight signs.”

“We Sisters of Charity receive a lot for the service we provide to the needy,” said the nun, who has been in the order founded by the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata for the past 40 years. “As Mother Teresa used to say, show tenderness in your face, eyes, smile and the warmth of your greetings! You must show a happy smile. Don’t just treat people; offer your heart as well.”

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