On behalf of the Grand Commandery of the Castello, I visited India again in February 2018.
Women in Need (WIN), our major charity, continues to work hard for women who are in desperate need of help.
Our latest project here is to buy a portable iBreast scanning device for early detection of breast cancer. A three-month crowd-funding drive among Members and Friends of the Grand Commandery led to raising the necessary funds and in May 2018, on the 45th anniversary since Castello Lanzun became the home of our Grand Commandery, the money to purchase the iBreast scanning device was forwarded to WIN.
I was taken to outlying villages where this device will literally be a lifesaver. Women in these villages have a real problem travelling in to Nagpur for scanning. WIN will be able to scan and detect cancer without the need to transport patients many miles to Nagpur.
The iBreast device is connected by wifi to a centre in Mumbai for patients to be assessed.
I also paid another visit to the leper colony in Dattapur. I saw big changes here, but I was made most welcome again.
The Leper Colony, Dattapur
I was asked to plant a tree at the Dattapur Hospice
In April, I visited Kagando Hospital in Uganda again. This is another charity which the Grand Commandery has assisted in recent years.
Our latest project here was to build two accommodation modules for visiting medical staff, with the main portion of the rents received going directly to help leprosy sufferers in the locality.
...to this - in just a few months.
I was asked to inaugurate the building during my visit.
Inauguration of the Building
In the meantime, the Grand Commandery of the Castello continues to raise funds for charity through social events organized at Castello Lanzun.
We also donated funds to rebuild a row of shops just outside the hospital after the original ones were destroyed by fire.
The New Shops
Our intrepid Hospitaller, Chev Paul Warren, returned to Uganda in March 2017 to discuss a new project for Kagando Hospital.
The original plan had been to buy some agricultural land for the hospital. However this turned out not to be viable, due to the difficulty of obtaining a definitive land title.
After meetings with hospital authorities, a plan was proposed to build accommodation for visiting medical staff. The rental income from the property would go into a dedicated account for the benefit of leprosy sufferers.
This plan has now developed into reality, with the first tranch of funds from the Grand Commandery already sent to Kagando.
Whilst in Uganda, Paul had the opportunity to revisit the house the Grand Commandery built for Mr Michael Zigara last year, and to meet Michael and one of his daughters again. (The other daughter was in school.)
Paul also visited some other local leprosy groups.
Click here to see where Kagando is on the map: http://bit.ly/2rZ0pcw
Handout of Clothes, Soap and Sugar to Local Villagers
(Click any photo to enlarge)
With Michael Zigara
Rita Miller with Some of the Children
Proposed Land for New Accomodation
With a Leprosy Group in Kasese
With more Leprosy Sufferers in Kasese
In 2016 the Grand Commandery funded the building of a house for a leprosy sufferer, Mr Michael Zigara, in Western Uganda. In late August 2016, our Hospitaller, Chev Paul Warren, went out see the house and to visit Kagando Hospital which has a leprosy department.
He found Michael's new house to be well built and a great improvement on the previous mud hut.
Leprosy is still common in this part of the world, and Paul saw many sufferers, both in the hospital and in the surrounding areas. The people are very poor and have no water or electricity. Collecting water often involves a trek of several hours.
The Council of the Grand Commandery of the Castello is considering a possible future project in Western Uganda.
This report was sent to the Council of the Grand Commandery by Leah Pattison in August 2015
Women in Need would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of our activities in Nagpur & Wardha – India. You have enabled us to improve the lives of so many women. Through the hospice, you have also helped those who were abandoned and dying, to be able to die with dignity.
Firstly, our ambulance continues to be an invaluable asset to our work. We continue to provide primary health care to impoverished areas across the city. The mobile clinic enables us to provide health checks and treatment to up to 200 women a week who may be suffering from malaria, TB, HIV, leprosy or any other ailment.
The advantage of the mobile clinic is that we can reach a population of people in areas where there is no local Primary Health Centre. We are also able to detect ailments at an early stage, thus saving lives.
The ambulance also transports women to and from clinics and hospitals throughout the city and even from Wardha to Nagpur, which is a one and a half hours drive.
The ambulance being used to disribute drinking water after the main supply was contaminated by floods.
Transporting Women for Cancer Screening
WIN has a collaborative initiative the Indian Cancer Society in screening women for the early signs of breast, cervical and oral cancer. The majority of cancer patients referred to the charity for financial assistance are terminally ill, therefore it’s crucial that the charity addresses this by encouraging women to be screened. This is not an easy task as many women are unwilling to undergo screening due to fear, ignorance and religious constraints. The charity’s social workers work hard in encouraging women to attend our organised screening sessions.
The ambulance is used to transport 20 women every week to a local hospital – Mure Memorial, where they are screened. The ambulance is again invaluable because the logistics of gathering and transporting the women would be otherwise very difficult. The ambulance makes two journeys with batches of 10 women per trip.
Eye Camp – Transporting Ophthalmologists from The Mahatma Eye Hospital to Local Shanty Towns
The ambulance is used for transporting medical teams to impoverished areas across the city. For example, eye specialists are taken to local community centres within these poor areas, where they check the local public for eye problems. WIN pays for treatment, reading spectacles and surgeries.
Mental Health Team
The ambulance continues to collect a mental health team from the city’s mental hospital. They conduct free consultations at WIN’s clinic.
Leprosy Health Awareness
WIN collaborates with many health workers operating in different sectors of the Health Department. Over 15 years, the charity has developed a network of volunteers who assist WIN in combating many areas of women’s health.
Leprosy paramedic,Mr Choudery often volunteers his time to travel with WIN’s team in our ambulance to various areas where poverty, illiteracy and superstition is rife.
Leprosy is making a comeback and yet Mr Choudery and his colleagues who are employed by the local authority, are not permitted to officially record the marked increase in positive leprosy cases. The reason for this is that the Indian government wishes to deny the resurgence of the disease, which the WHO had invested billions in eliminating (elimination means 1 case per 10, 000 population). Leprosy was eliminated (not eradicated) in India in 2005.
Above: Mr Choudery with WIN’s staff: Raj, Rama and Pooja spreading leprosy awarness.
Young family struggling with poverty and leprosy
The above photos are of a couple who are struggling to make ends meet. The man in the photo has leprosy and was detected through our awareness programs. His wife has to work to keep the family because her husband lost his job after his employer discovered he had the disease.
WIN supports the entire family financially and emotionally and continues to work towards dispelling the myths and prejudices surrounding leprosy.
Hospice & Long term Care Ward - Wardha
The hospice is used to care for terminally ill women who have been abandoned by their families in the grounds of Nagpur’s 2 government hospitals. They are refused admission due to a lack of available beds and so many die where they are left, alone and in pain.
WIN regulary discovers women who are very sick or dying and we are able to offer them a bed in our small hospice at Wardha.Many are elderly and infirm, or suffer from diseases such as cancer and HIV.
The below image is of an 11 yr old called Gouri whose parents died from AIDS. She lives with her grandmother and elder brother who aren’t infected with the virus. WIN supports Gouri whose life is fraught with infection and pain. The 2nd line anti retro virals she takes cause severe side effects. From time to time, Gouri needs to be hospitalised for long periods, which is impossible in government hospitals because of a shortage of beds. She is able to take respite care whenever she requiers at our facility in Wardha.
End of life care for leprosy patient Wimal Yadav after the charity supports her for 15 years
After her death at the charity’s hospice, Wimal’s body was prepared for cremation with the funeral rites of her choice. This is an important aspect of our duty of care to those who have passed in our hospice.
WIN’s Tuk Tuk – Auto-rickshaw
The charity’s auto rickshaw continues to serve the charity well. It provides transportation to those who are sick and require a doctor’s attention at a nearby clinic. It also enables us to bring local doctors to our hospice and shelter whenever a medical emergency arises.
In addition to this, the auto is used to transport some our women to a nearby vocational training centre where. Those who are recovering from mental illness, can learn new skills and regain confidence and having our own transport at Wardha provides easy access to local facilities.
Finally, the auto also is used for our staff when they shop locally for supplies. They would otherwise have to pay substantially for a privately hires auto or struggle on a local bus.
Below is an unusual photograph of the three vehicles donated by the Grand Commandery to projects in India - all together at once. The motorised rickshaw was donated to "Women In Need" (WIN) for use by the Women's Refuge in Wardha. The ambulance in the centre was provided for the main leper colony at Dattapur and the one on the right to WIN at Nagpur.
Grand Commandery "Fleet"
Since 2010, the Grand Commandery has provided regular support to, and built a long-term relationship with, the Women In Need (WIN) charity based in Nagpur, India. WIN is run by a remarkable woman, Leah Pattison.
Leah grew up in Weardale, County Durham and after graduating with a Fine Arts degree she undertook some voluntary work in India in 1995. This involved working at a Leprosy colony in Dattapur, Wardha, where her task was to teach English to young girls at the hostel there. This experience totally altered her life plan to become an artist. Leah was so moved by the particular plight of the women and children she encountered suffering from leprosy that she found herself returning to India and to Dattapur to continue working there. In 1997 Leah was to experience first hand the ordeal of her new friends when she herself contracted leprosy. It required a year of treatment before leah was pronounced clear of the disease. At Dattapur she had met and become close friends with a young Indian woman called Usha Patil, who had suffered severely from leprosy from the age of ten and who had undergone nine years of treatment and reconstructive surgery before being freed from the disease. Their friendship became a special bond formed through the sharing of adversity. Usha was the first person to notice the symptoms of Leah’s leprosy and so, as Leah had supported Usha through her illness, Usha now sustained Leah through her own crisis. The outcome was that they both decided to devote their future to the care of leprosy sufferers and, towards this end, they both qualified as leprosy paramedical workers at the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation in Wardha in 1999.
The Grand Commandery of the Castello has actively supported this project for the past year. We are driven by two facts. First, we talk direct to Leah’s mother, Sandra, who lives in Bishop Aukland, Co Durham and works as Leah’s administrative support. From Sandra we can get minute by minute updates on the project progress and it is direct to Sandra that our donations go. Second, we highly applaud the fact that this young woman Leah not only treats the discarded women of India for leprosy and AIDS, but also strives to rehabilitate them back with their husbands, children and families and into productive work after successful treatment. This often means weeks of painstaking and frustrating argument and persuasive discussion with family and employers alike to take the patient back into society to live a normal and useful life once more.
Our aim is to help Leah set up a custom built clinic in her district of Dattapur and in this respect, the Grand Commandery initially donated £12,000. You can read and see more about this project at www.youtube.com/user/markashleyfilms Mark who is Leah’s brother, has produced these film clips.
In March 2010, the Grand Commandery agreed at its Annual General Meeting to donate €12,000 to the ‘Women in Need’ project to buy an ambulance for use at Leah Pattison’s Dattapur Leprosy centre.
Leah and Usha standing outside the Ambulance donated
by the Grand Commandery of the Castello - 1st December 2010
At the 2011 Annual General Meeting held in March, members of the Grand Commandery present unanimously agreed to donate the equivalent in Euro of £6,500 Sterling in continued support of the 'Women in Need' charity in India. Leah Pattison has now received the donation and the money will be used to set up a small but essential hospice in Dattapur. It will be equipped with beds and other support equipment for a clinic designed to treat chronically ill patients, especially those suffering from Leprosy. This was followed by a further €3200 towards the end of the year.
In 2012 we announced a further £7,500 Sterling to support the maintenance of our ambulance, payable in three annual installments.
At the December 2012 Council meeting, looking forward to Christmas, it was decided to present Leah with a further €1000 donation to the hospice in Dattapur, for a project of her choice.
Our Hospitaller, Chev Paul Warren went out to India in March 2013 at the invitation of Leah to see at first hand how our money was being spent.
Paul Warren and Leah Pattison at the Leper Colony near Dattapur
Paul was very impressed with what he saw. Apart from being present at the weekly clinic in Nagpur, he also spent two days at the Leper Colony in Dattapur, and did a clinic run in the ambulance purchased by the Grand Commandery a few years ago.
The ambulance in use in Nagpur
Following this visit, the Grand Commandery has donated further funds, approximately €5,000, to set up some of the women in small businesses, and to buy an auto rickshaw for the leper colony.
Dr Sharma(head of the Colony) and Paul Warren begin the annual spring cleaning at the Leper Colony
Donation of Motorised Rickshaw
In 2014 we donated an auto rickshaw to Women In Need.
WIN’s shelter for homeless women in Wardha is eight kilometres away from nearby hospitals and four kilometres from the local town centre. Public transport is unreliable and especially in the event of an emergency.
The auto rickshaw has a 4-stroke engine and provides efficient and convenient travel, thus eliminating all the previous difficulties.
The Motorised Rickshaw with our Intrepid Hospitaller at the Controls.
Funding of Businesses for Women in Difficulty
10 women were recipients of businesses funded by the Grand Commandery. These ranged from general stalls and chilli stalls, to a variety of sewing machines, all enabling women to earn from home whilst looking after their children.
The majority of these women are single mothers, for whom balancing work and home has been a constant battle.
Leah reports that one candidate, suffering from cervical cancer, has found a sense of purpose through her jewellery business. Her elder daughter is able to continue the work in her mother’s absence on days when she is unwell.
One of the Businesses whose setup was funded by the Grand Commandery
In 2015 the Grand Commandery provided the leper colony at Dattapur in India with a much-needed ambulance.
The New Ambulance
The Ambulance from the Rear
The Dattapur Colony is in the country about 75km South West of Dattapur in the Wardha Region.The new ambulance will be a great asset for transportation to and from hospital, as public transport is not reliable.
Refurbishment of a Leper Colony in a remote part of the country.
The Grand Commandery donated €10,000 to a leper colony in Kazakhstan, to enable badly-needed refurbishment of the bathrooms and to buy new beds. This project was overseen after by a member of the Grand Commandery, Confr Jarred Guthrie, who was working in Kazakhstan at the time.
Dr Saitaliev, the Medical Director of the colony, who is a Moslem, wrote:
- Dr Saitaliev
A project for and by People Affected by Leprosy (PAL)
The Grand Commandery of the Castello has actively been involved in a really exciting project brought to our attention by the Priory in Hong Kong. It concerned a Leper colony in the Sichaun Province of China named the Jing Yang Village. Work consisted of building a health clinic and providing water to all the dwellings in the village. The agreement was ‘that should we be in a position to raise all the required sum of £25,000 Sterling within a certain period of time, we would be allowed to fly the flag of St Lazarus on top of the clinic’.
So enthused by the project were we that the Council of the Grand Commandery immediately authorised a sum of £3,250 Sterling and then shortly afterwards £2,750 Sterling, making a total contribution of £6,000 Sterling. In addition, we endeavoured to raise the remaining balance from other Jurisdictions throughout the world. A limited amount of success was achieved with support from the USA, Holland and the UK, but unfortunately it was insufficient.
The Council then agreed to pay a further £2,333 Sterling to the project and there was also an anonymous donation of £805. Throughout 2007, further donations were made by the Grand Commandery of the Castello and, in 2008, we were proud to be able to hand over the balance of money required to bring the total up to the target amount of £25,000. This amount, achieved in just over 12 months and raised from a membership averaging around only 60 members we feel was a significant and praiseworthy achievement.
For a more detailed explanation of Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) and its effects click here
In June 2009 The Grand Commandery gave €700 to the Missionary Movement ‘Jesus In Thy Neighbour’ which is headed by Master Fr Gorg Grima. This money allowed Fr Gorg, 30 minutes 'air time' for an appeal on Malta National TV. The appeal raised an amazing €80,012 - enough to build 114 homes for leprosy sufferers in Ethiopia.
At our St Lazarus ‘Night at the Opera’ event held on the 14th May 2010 at St James Cavalier, Valletta, the Grand Commandery donated €700 to Fr Gorg Grima for the build of an additional house at his leprosy centre in Ethiopia.
At the 2010 Grand Commandery Patronal Service held in the Castello on the 17th December, a further €700 was donated to Fr Gorg Grima for the building of another dwelling in his Ethiopian Leprosy Centre. Fr Gorg was most grateful for the gift. He thanked all members for their continuing support in his effort to alleviate the social degradation and scourge that Leprosy brings to those who are either suffering or, although cured, remain severely disfigured and socially rejected.
At the 2011 Patronal Service, a further €8,000 was donated to Fr Grima to build ten Leper Houses in Ethiopia, each of which will bear the Grand Commandery logo.
Within the Grand Commandery’s concept that ‘every charitable penny raised gets to the hands of those that need it’ the Grand Commandery has supported many more worthwhile causes worldwide. The more recent include:
To the 2006 Asian Tsunami Appeal - €6,990
To a hospital on the Ivory Coast to treat children suffering from a water ulcerous infection called ‘Ulera De Buruli’ - €2,330
To the charity ‘Independent Living’ a donation of €1,400 to purchase a hydraulic hoist and wheelchair.
For the bush fire disaster in the Victoria region of Australia, €1,000 donated to the ‘Victoria Bush Fire Appeal’
As well as supporting those in need in far flung places, it would not be charitable to ignore our own doorstep in Malta. In this respect, the Council always has its eyes open for local deserving causes and, in recent years, the Grand Commandery has made the following donations:
In 2005, €11,650 was given to ‘Dar Tal-Providenza’, a residential care home for the disabled in Malta.
Support to the ‘Inspire, the Foundation for Inclusion’ (formerly known as ‘Razzett Tal Hbiberija’), a centre for the disabled in Marsascala, Malta, by purchasing various pieces of equipment to help ease the pain of the disabled. Previously we donated €816 for a ‘Bubble Tube’ for the centre’s Multi Sensory Unit. In 2013 we donated a further €2,000 for the purchase of two special suspension swings at the Unit.
The New Suspension Swings at Inspire
A donation of €1,496 to purchase a hospital bed to enable patients to receive treatment at the Adult Training Centre in Gozo. We purchased various pieces of equipment for the ‘Richmond Foundation’ in Malta costing €815.
A donation of €1,400 was given to the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ in Malta.
Two light weight wheelchairs were purchased for the ‘Malta Hospice Society’ at a cost of €1,165.
A donation of €350 was made to ‘St Paul’s Anglican Pro Cathedral’, Malta towards the repair required to the Cathedral roof.
To counter for the unseasonably low temperatures experienced in Malta during January to March 2012, the Grand Commandery donated two gas heaters with cylinders for use in the Communal room of the Silesian Men’s Hospice, Sliema.