Pre-novices spent a week at Snehadaan (Gift of Love) an institution for the palliative care of the young and elderly men and women affected by HIV AIDS and Sneha Care Home, a center for the HIV affected children aged up to 16 years. These institutions situated in Carmalaram, Bangalore are run by the Order of Clerics Regular, Ministers to the Sick (Camillus fathers).
The 13 pre-novices accompanied by their directors Sisters Anice Vattukulam and Suman Dungdung were introduced to the ministry through an orientation on awareness of the disease HIV Aids, the campus, everyday routine and the way to care with precautions. The pre-novices joined the nurses and the staff of the center every morning as it began with a prayer for the day. They involved themselves by doing the daily chores of cleaning the whole area including each patient’s rooms, cleaning their cupboards, arranging their clothes and helping to keep their places neat and tidy. The invalid and the bedridden women patients had to be helped to meet their personal needs such as bathing. brushing, dressing, feeding etc. Meals were to be served for all in the dining room and for a few in their own bedrooms and for some all the meals had to be fed. It was the first time in life we ever bathed or fed another person. This challenging task became a joyful experience as we reflected on the audacious love of the one who gave his life for the entire humanity.
We bonded with every person in the care center and saw the face of Jesus in them. Though sick, handicapped, abandoned and lonely, the inmates reflected exuberance and contentment. They inspired us to remain contented and ever grateful for the gifts of God that we receive abundantly in our daily lives. Every evening, we taught songs and told stories to the children of Sneha care home. We joined them for their evening prayer.
We also had the joy of preparing and participating in “Sneha Run” an annual fundraising program for the benefactors. Our entire being was so motivated that we used our leisure to pack up 5000- 7000 candles (made by the inmates) to be given as gift to all the donors of ‘Sneha Run’.
Before we retired to our rooms each day, we came together to spend some time to pray, reflect and share our day’s experiences, inspirations, thoughts and challenges. Most of us were in tears as we shared each day our encounter with the God of courage and compassion. We are grateful to our formators Sisters Anice and Suman, and the Provincial team for providing us with such a wonderful experience which will ever be an inspiring memory in our lives. ‘Deepening oneness in Christ with hope for joyful commitment’ became a reality in our lives during our short stay at Snehadaan.
Augustina Lepcha and Kancharla Sujatha