World Leprosy Day
Leah Pattison, founder of Women in Need (WIN), a UK charity operating in Nagpur, India, is appealing to raise funds for a second ambulance. “One idea that we would like to expand on,” explained Ms Pattison, “is that of developing a mobile clinic network, inspired by the US Mobile Healthcare Association which "promotes and serves the mobile healthcare sector through advocacy, education and research in order to increase access to care for all.”
Last March, Leah was presented with the MBE insignia by H.R.H. Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace for services to underprivileged women in India.
For the past eight years, WIN has been the recipient of ongoing support from a Maltese NGO called the Grand Commandery of the Castello (VO/1558). Based at Castello Lanzun in Mensija, San Ġwann, the Grand Commandery is an ecumenical jurisdiction with members hailing from eight different countries. The jurisdiction forms part of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem established in Jerusalem in the 11th century.
Raising funds for a second ambulance to assist lepers in India
(click to enlarge)
Marking World Leprosy Day, observed around the world on the last Sunday of January, and to assist Ms Pattison, the Grand Commandery has launched the ‘Women In Need Ambulance Appeal Fund’. The raised funds will go towards the purchase of the new TATA Winger ambulance for WIN estimated to cost nearly €19,000. The donation will further enable WIN to provide free primary health care to thousands of women and children in the deprived communities of Nagpur city through the charity’s mobile primary health care programme.
“As the new year renews our voluntary commitment, hope keeps glowing in our hearts. Donating towards the ambulance fund would be a wonderful kind deed, no matter how small or large the donation is. This would be the best and most beautiful form of charity, because these persons suffering from leprosy cannot thank us personally. This way, our donation will truly be a gift from the heart for the benefit of human beings like us,” said Carmel Bonello, the head of the Grand Commandery.
In recent years, a substantial part of the charitable funds raised by the Grand Commandery’s social events have gone towards WIN’s various needs in India, especially where lepers are concerned. Donations from Malta included a mobile primary health clinic in Nagpur’s urban slums (see photo); a small hospice for elderly leprosy patients at Dattapur; beds and equipment for abandoned women sheltered by WIN; an autorickshaw for the hospice; the creation of a garden for abandoned women; and, more recently, an iBreastExam (iBE) device enabling WIN to provide free breast cancer screening in remote villages in order to save lives.
Ms Pattison said: “We thank the council and members of the Grand Commandery of the Castello for their exceptional ongoing support. We appeal to the public in Malta and Gozo to support the Grand Commandery of the Castello so that this voluntary organisation can further strengthen its mission to assist and relieve our brothers and sisters afflicted by leprosy in India.”
Donations for ‘Women In Need Ambulance Appeal Fund’ (WAAF) can be sent via sms:
5061 6127 for €1.16, 5061 7306 for €2.33, 5061 7921 for €4.66,
5061 8809 for €6.99 and 5061 9251 for €11.65
Bank details are:
Swift code VALLMTMT
IBAN number: MT34 VALL 2201 3000 0000 4001 8632 226
Bank name: Bank of Valletta
Account number: 4001 8632 226
Grand Commandery’s vocation improves lives of leprosy sufferers
For thousands of years, people with leprosy have been stigmatized and, till this very day, in some countries they are even banished from their respective communities. While leprosy has been eradicated from Malta, and the subject is just mentioned once a year on World Leprosy Day, observed around the world on the last Sunday of January, a jurisdiction of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, based in Malta, has made it its ongoing mission for the last 45 years to fund charities assisting hundreds of lepers in both India and Uganda. Its ongoing support has significantly improved the lives and alleviated the suffering of lepers.
The members of the Grand Commandery of the Castello, based at Castello Lanzun in Mensija, limits of San Gwann, currently assist two main charitable organisations: Women in Need (W.I.N.) in India and Kagando Hospital in Uganda.
Women in Need
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 two remarkable women, Leah Pattison and Usha Patil.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of sick women being abandoned on the streets,” said Ms Pattison, who has left a comfortable life in the UK to assist lepers in India. “In 2017, we have employed more staff members to cope with the increasing demand on the charity’s services. We have also developed collaborative initiatives with the local hospitals. In their free time, various consultants contribute time and expertise when they visit our shelter in Dattapur. However, the challenge is to maintain all the services we offer to our leper brothers and sisters”.
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.
In 2017, 18,920 women were served and/or educated through WIN. The charity regularly discovers women abandoned who are very sick or dying, and are offered a bed in their hospice in Wardha. This hospice for the terminally ill was funded by the Grand Commandery of the Castello itself.
WIN collaborates with many health workers operating in different sectors of the region’s health department. Over these 17 years, the charity has developed a network of volunteers who assist WIN in combating many areas of women’s health and needs.
Every year, the Grand Commandery Hospitaller Chev Paul Warren travels to India and Uganda to monitor the progress being made.
The Grand Commandery first funded a building of a house for a leprosy sufferer and his family in 2016. His mud hut, called home, was destroyed during the monsoon season. When Chev Paul Warren visited last year, he found Michael's new home to be well built and now can withstand the rain season. While there, he visited Kagando Hospital in Western Uganda which has a leprosy department.
Leprosy is still common in this part of the world, and Paul saw many sufferers, both in the hospital and the surrounding areas. The people are very poor and have no water or electricity. Collecting water often involves trekking for several hours. During his two visits Paul met several leprosy groups.
Last year the Grand Commandery began a partnership with Kagando Hospital run by the Anglican Church of Uganda. Through the intervention of a retired Maltese nurse Rita Miller, who every year helps in the hospital, it was decided to build two units as accommodation for visiting medical staff and young graduates, who will be also trained in assisting lepers. Furthermore, the rental income from the property would go into a dedicated account for the benefit of leprosy sufferers.
Over the years, Chev Paul Warren has paid regular visits to WIN in India and in recent years to Kagando Hospital in Western Uganda, each time to see at firsthand how the money donated by the Grand Commandery was being spent. All the money raised from activities held by the Grand Commandery and donations received are directly injected into these charitable projects, and none of this money is used for administration nor for travels “We deal directly with the local charitable organisation on the ground, where we are able to visit, see and monitor the outcomes, first hand. We go straight where the need of the lepers is because with our funds we can do more for these less fortunate people.”
For more information please visit The Grand Commandery’s website: http://grandcommanderymalta.org/charity-work
A strong delegation from the Grand Commandery of the Castello in Malta attended the Ecumenical Service held at the Collegiate Church and Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady, in the historical and fortified city of Senglea. The service, led by the Archbishop of Malta Mons Charles J Scicluna, was held under the auspices of Christians Together in Malta and the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission.