Thursday, May 20, 2010

Catholic priest honored for curing leprosy

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan felicitated social activist Father Christudas on Tuesday for curing thousands of leprosy patients.
Father Christudas, who has treated over 50,000 leprosy patients in Bihar’s Sundarpur village expressed his happiness to receive the ‘The Week - Man of the Year 2009′ in Mumbai, news agency ANI reported.
‘I feel delighted because it is honoring social workers, who are involved in this kind of work. It’s not a personal award; it is for all those social workers, who are working for the people,” said Christudas.
“Leprosy patients are such a group of people who are being denied of, rejected by everybody. I thought I should do something for them,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ashok Chavan said the Maharashtra Government is starting Rajiv Gandhi Health Mission, under which people of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category would be given treatment free of cost.
“The State government has officially launched the mission and work would start soon, he said.
Besides Chavan, novelist Shobha De was also present to felicitate the activist at the function.
The Kerala-based “The Week” selected Father Christudas of Bettiah diocese for its last year’s recognition and ran the cover of its December last week edition with his photograph.
The 72-year-old priest’s Little Flower Centre is in Sunderpur village in Raxaul town on the India-Nepal border, an area known for large number of colonies for this socially segregated people. The priest began the center in 1981 with about 100 people suffering from leprosy.
His center spread over 8 hectares of land grows wheat and runs a poultry farm that meets 40 percent of its needs. The complex includes a school, hostel, hospital, work center and a village of 200 families - all cured patients.
“The Week” said Bihar’s northern region now has 22 leper colonies, 10 less than when Father Christudas began his center 28 year ago. “And only patients are the older generation,” it said.
The priest wants his rehabilitation center to flourish, but is also looking forward to a time when the hospital will have no patients. “Then I will know that my life has been a worthy one,” he told the weekly.

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