Dr.Anna Dengel founder of MMS told us “the sufferings of the world should have an echo in your hearts”. Her passion and compassion gave birth to our organization Medical Mission Sisters and that’s how I Celine is here today. Anna’s journey as a woman Doctor started in 1925 when she responded to the health needs of the Muslim women in Rawalpindi North India Now Pakistan who were not allowed to see male doctors. Anna had a vision that women health professionals who dedicated their lives to God could make a difference in helping women to have access to the health care they deserved. She saw this not only as a work of Charity, but also one of Justice.
Austrian Dr Anna founded our organization in Washington DC for the women in India, yes, we are global citizens from the beginning.
Anna was instrumental in changing a Canon law of Catholic Church that prevented Religious women doing Gynecological work. Because of this Catholic sisters all over the world are able to serve in this field. Our first Advocacy!
She told us “I responded to the needs of my time, it is up to you to respond”. Over the past 92 years, 600 sisters and associates in 18 countries are living our mission to be an active presence of Christ the healer, who restore health and bring it to fullness through Medical, educational, Psycho social and spiritual services. Justice and ecological awareness are integral to our holistic approach to health. We are connected to several Civil Society Organizations and other religious locally and at the UN. Together our members serve millions of marginalized people in 177 countries.
Even though Food and water are fundamental human rights essential for health, this is denied to a quarter of the world’s population. We all know the importance of water. In our world 1.8 billion people do not have safe drinking water.
I see MMS are agents of change in several areas. In Ethiopia, Sr. Elaine Kohls as a Hospital Administrator, saw water borne diseases as main cause of death and sickness. Under her leadership they started a hand-dug well, today there are 140 tube wells and this resulted in better health for thousands of women, children and men. In 2015 after the FFD Conference in Addis Ababa I had a chance to visit the place and delighted to see that people are taking one more step to use the water for Agriculture too.
In Madya Pradesh, India my friends Srs. Rose Cherian and Lilly started a watershed programme in the drought driven areas of Khandwa. With the help of local farmers they went through the forests to trace and protect the watershed and made check dams and planted trees. They are able to see the tremendous results where the farmers are enjoying the benefit of water.
Sr. Rose Kayathinkara also from my own state Kerala is the founder of Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative Society in North East India, she had been working among the tribals in GaroHills for 40 years. Forming Cooperatives, she had been focusing on sustainable development of the people right from the beginning. Through Self Help Groups she gives environmental awareness, empowerment of farmers through education and campaigning for gender parity. Besides Agriculture she introduced Rubber plantation for economic empowerment of small farmers and now move on to planting coconut trees. She received several awards latest is the woman of distinction award on the International Women’s Day in 2016 for her contribution towards empowering rural Farmers.
In Germany Sr. Dr. Maria Goetzens has been managing a clinic mainly for homeless people in Frankfurt where homeless persons can have a cup of coffee, talk, get a bath and fresh clothes, get needed medicine and be referred for further medical care. She serves homeless addicts, people who are psychologically ill, handicapped and mistreated. Maria received the highest public award of the Republic of Germany for her mission with homeless people. Through this award the health needs of homeless and the commitment of all those who serve them came into the public limelight.
In the US, Sr.Dr. Miriam Therese Winter is a leader, composer, author, and musician as well as founder of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary”. Her award-winning books and her training in Feminist spirituality, help women to explore new and more authentic ways of living faith fully, in a constantly evolving universe.
In Uganda- East Africa, young Sr. Roselyn Ninsiima is happy to answer people who question her choice of Agriculture for her under graduate course. She wants to help the rural farmers as a MMS.
In the Philippines Sr. Anne Bellosillo started (HEAL) Haven for Ecological and Alternative living as a response to the challenge of the ecological crisis. They are demonstrating a way of living to reduce our ecological footprint through organic farming, buildings made from renewable and local materials, the use of renewable energy from solar, wind and biogas and zero-waste management. The HEAL community introduce alternative healing methods that are affordable, accessible and available to the communities in the area and beyond. They conduct trainings and retreats to deepen understanding of the earth as a presence of God and make healing of the earth a way of life.
Out of many these are some of the examples of leadership by MMS toward a more just and peace-filled planet.
Change happens when people who are not affected, feel the pain of others in their hearts and find multiple ways to respond.
The words of our mother Anna Dengel echo in our hearts” “If you love, you want to serve; you are tireless, you find ways and means.”
Celine Paramunda MMS
UNDPI/NGO Briefing for CSW 61
23/3/17 UN CR-2