01/21/2013, 00.00
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Sisters of Cluny, the love of Christ among the lepers of Pondicherry

by Santosh Digal
Since1981, the religious welcome and treat leprosy and AIDS sufferers in their center, many were forced to beg, because abandoned by their family. Through courses in sewing, painting and crafts, patients find that they are a gift from God and are an active part of society.

Pondicherry (AsiaNews) - Bringing the love of Christ and giving hope to the most marginalized and outcast of society, especially lepers and AIDS patients in India. This is the mission of a group of Sisters of Cluny, who for over 30 years have managed a community about 8km from the small village of Tindivanam, in the diocese of Pondicherry. Here, Sister Cecily tells AsiaNews, "we welcome all those rejected by society and by the authorities and try to give them help and dignity as human beings."

Founded in 1981, the Sisters of Cluny is one of 1,000 communities in India dealing with leprosy. Most of the center's guests are Dalits, the "untouchables" of society. "Today - says the religious - there are 13 people living with HIV / AIDS and 16 leprosy patients. Among these, some also suffer from tuberculosis. Before coming to our center, they were begging on the street because they had been abandoned by their family and society." For some time, the Sisters of Cluny have also given a home to 35 children from families with leprosy, and 15 orphans whose parents have died of AIDS.

In the hostel, the nuns organize training courses of various kinds, and teach patients how to sew, paint, make cards and other small handicrafts. "This way - said Sister Cecily - patients feel that they are a gift from God, and that they can contribute to society."

Although leprosy has been eradicated in many parts of the world, even today thousands of people suffer from this disease. About half of all leprosy cases are located in India.


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Calcutta: Christmas of the Missionaries of Charity, among AIDS patients
Children and young people can be peacemakers too, says the Pope
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