HOW IT ALL BEGAN

My husband passed away early in my marriage. That left me devastated. Even though my brothers and sister were always there for me after that, I felt there was something missing within me. I continuosly searched for opportunities to fill that deep heart-broken emptiness within me. I tried to focus all my attention looking after my three children, Conrad, Melani and Natasha, but something within me was telling me that I had to do much more with my life. I felt a strong calling to do something for the poor.

I used to be a Teacher in St. Pauls High School in Belgaum before I voluntarily retired. During my holidays, on a number of occasions I had the opportunity to volunteer at Sneha Sadan, Hubli, run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. There, I got a chance to work for the dying, destitute, terminally ill and poor of the city of Hubli. The work I did there at the Home really touched my heart and moved me tremendously. The selflessness and generosity of the Sisters of Mother Teresa inspired me to do something similar for our city of Belgaum.

By establishing Karunalaya, which means a Home of Compassion and Love, I envisioned a Home providing physical nourishment, emotional support, medical assistance, and care to the dying, destitute, abandoned and poor. I joined hands with some of my closest friends, especially Fr. Victor D'Cruz and Ms. Mariamma Nygam, who have always supported me every step of the way, to setup The LEOMEL Society for Care of the Dying and the Destitute to help me run Karunalaya. The Society is a group of my closest friends and relatives who extend their dedicated and selfless service to the residents of the Home, without whose help and support Karunalaya would not be where it is today.

Karunalaya is a home that provides the residents, who are poor, destitute and abandoned, a roof over their heads to sleep, simple food for daily nourishment and medical assistance for their illnesses.

Karunalaya has come across many deserving cases. We have picked up paralytics lying on the roadside and starved destitutes dying on the foothpath. Some residents were poor and had no one to look after them who were in urgent need of medical attention. Some residents who came to us were mentally challenged incapable of looking after themselves and had no one to look after them. We have a number of residents in the Home who need constant help and assistance and cannot do most things by themselves. We also have some residents who suffer from medical conditions, including epilepsy. And, we have seem some very tragic cases where residents were abandoned by their very own children and asked to leave the house. But I will never forget one resident who we admitted who could not talk or hear or write. We had no other choice but to give him a name ourselves. We named him John.

Most residents in the Home have only known abuse, rejection and poverty all their lives. At Karunalaya, we try to teach the residents to be respectful, polite and courteous to other residents in the same way love, care and affection are shown to them by the staff and society members. I am glad that we were able to touch and transform the lives of many down-trodden people for the better.

Looking back from our humble beginnings to where we have come today, I feel satisfied with our accomplishments so far. We are deeply grateful to God for his wonderful generosity in helping us run Karunalaya. I feel blessed and would like to acknowledge with gratitude the tremendous help and support of all those generous people who have come forward to enable us achieve the aims and objectives of our Society. I pray that God give us all the strength and willingness to continue what we are doing and take our Home to even greater heights.

May God bless us all.

Mrs. Anita Rodricks
Founder of The Leomel Society & Karunalaya