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Winter, 2013
Volume 39, Number 4
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In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
20 October 2011
Erin Edwards




Anna Valavanal (left) and her sister, Irin, visit the Deivadan sisters and residents in Thankamany. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

In the July 2010 issue of ONE Peter Lemieux reported on the fearless work of the Deivadan Sisters in Kerala, India and the community that stands with them:

Siji Valavanal and her two daughters visit the Deivadan Home in Thankamany, in the Idukki District, a few afternoons each week. Established four years ago, the home takes in abandoned elderly women. On those days, Mrs. Valavanal picks up her daughters, 5-year-old Anna and 12-year-old Irin, from school and takes them to the market, where they purchase sacks of rice, tapioca, vegetables and other staples. They then head over to the Deivadan Home, knock on the door and offer the groceries. But more important for Mrs. Valavanal, she and her daughters stay awhile and visit with some of the residents.

Anna, wearing a bright pink-checkered dress, and Irin, wearing a pretty green dress, approach the bedside of a reclining resident. The frail woman sits up, reaches her hands out and clutches Irin’s hands. Irin smiles. She then gently caresses Anna’s cheeks. Anna blushes. The elderly woman beams.

On any given day, visitors drop in unannounced. Some bring sacks of rice, while others offer financial support. Together, as a community, they keep afloat these homes for the abandoned elderly. Some, such as Mrs. Valavanal and her daughters, have adopted the residents as additional parents and grandparents and stop by regularly.

“We’re happy when we come here. We sit and enjoy their company, feel their pain and hear their problems,” explains Mrs. Valavanal.

“Nowadays, society is always looking at the top level, not the low levels. Most people want to make relations with those with status, not to serve those in need. I want to create in my daughters’ minds the desire to serve others,” she says, echoing the wisdom of Father Kaippenplackal’s mother. For that lesson, Mrs. Valavanal could not have found her daughters better teachers than the Deivadan Sisters.

For more from this story, see, Fearless Grace by Peter Lemieux.



Tags: India Sisters Caring for the Elderly
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