On 4th September, 2016 Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa as Saint in Vatican City. The Pope said about her, “Now a Saint, always a Mother”. One may paraphrase it, “Always a Saintly Mother”.
However, the wide coverage in media on Mother Teresa on 4th September, 2016 was my reminiscence of a day many years back when I witnessed on foot path near Loreto School at Middleton Street, Kolkata, volunteers of Missionary of Charity tending a large number of leprosy patients. From the complexion of the volunteers all of them appeared to be European and no Indian among them was in sight on that day. By no means I’m belittling here the great role of the Indians as participants in Mother’s mission all along.
In this context, I want to mention about Dr. Joyce Siromoni, a gynecologist, now aged 86, who founded the institution Paripurnata, meaning ‘Fulfillment’, in Kolkata around 1992, thereafter shifted to southern part of Eastern Bypass in their own building. Paripurnata’s mission was to pick up mentally disabled women from the street or those detained in jail for security reason, who deserted their home and give them shelter for medical treatment and after cure return them back to their families, alternatively engage them in various occupations like weaving, tailoring, cooking, producing incense sticks etc. on which crafts they are trained while they are inmates in Paripurnata. Before coming down to Kolkata, Joyce built up a similar institution in Bangalore. Few years back, she retired from Paripurnata leaving its management to a competent Board as she did in Bangalore. But, by no means she is idling away her time. She has now built a similar institution at Chennai for male patients and is active as ever. She has full support from her husband Dr. Paul Siromoni, Ph. D. a nonagenarian!
For good many years I tried to help Paripurnata in their financial matters where all along Paripurnata lived with stress. Once I suggested Joyce to join Mother Teresa to resolve this persisting problem. With a smile she replied that she preferred to go her way rather than losing her identity in a colossal institution like Mother Teresa’s.
I’d like to mention my recent telephone talk with her when she regretted that she was getting full Governmental support in Chennai which she missed all along in Bengal. Joyce’s sustained dynamism over decades to promote human welfare is amazing to me!