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A Little Sister for Savio Boys Town

by Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.

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In the lush farmland of the Cannanore District of Kerala in southern India, the harvests of fruit and cashew nuts are sent elsewhere to market. Here Savio Boys Town makes its home with the financial support of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. The orphanage specializes in caring for handicapped boys, many of whom have been abandoned.

Recently, another child joined this community, and the place – especially the boys – will never be the same. The family with some 150 boys finally has a little sister.

Mary Kutty, or Little Mary, has been blind since birth. Her parents labor on a small plot of ground from which they eke out a frugal and tenuous existence. They could offer their daughter little to meet her special needs.

Franciscan Clarist Sisters have served in Savio for years. They know the area, and its people respect the dedication and patient love with which the Sisters care for their formerly neglected charges. At the residence and school, orphaned and disabled boys receive the food, shelter, basic education, and vocational training which their parents could not supply. The residents will stay at Savio Boys Town until their training leads them into jobs.

When the Sisters learned of the blind girl, they felt their resources at the orphanage could help. One priest who serves there had earned a master’s degree in special education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his training was with the blind.

Savio Boys Town had already been caring for five blind boys. One suffers from cancer of the optic nerve and has already lost full sight in one eye. He certainly will lose his remaining weak vision. There are no available resources for the delicate surgery which could have helped save his sight. But the people of this area, like all people of limited means, do the best they can with the resources at hand.

The same ingenuity motivates the workers at Savio Boys Town. When her parents approached Sister Vimala for help, her Sisters decided that Mary could live in their convent as “their daughter” and take advantage of the institution’s special teacher for the blind without going through the time and effort of government red-tape. Because such a teacher is so rare in Kerala, to keep a child like Mary from this special education just because she is female would be a horrible injustice and a shameful waste.

The community of handicapped boys lives in poor simplicity. Because only minimal health care is available, illnesses are common. Nonetheless, the youngsters express a genuine enthusiasm for life. Their consideration and concern for one another have always been a joy. However lame or mentally retarded they might be, the boys participate in the life of their home. When the priests celebrate the Syrian rite Mass, all the children contribute. The sighted guide the blind, the lame help the deaf and sightless, the more able carry the handicapped. From their separate incompleteness, they come together to form a vigorous, healthy, and more perfect whole.

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