- Which Ashram in Udaipur provides shelter to those abandoned on the road?
- Who runs it?
- How was it setup?
- What is routine of the sisters?
- What is the big need of the Ashram?
- If you would like to help this noble cause, visit: www.ashadham.com
A perfect example of selfless service and complete surrender to the will of God, Sister Damian, Incharge, Ashadham Ashram, Udaipur comes from Poonjar, Kottayam, Kerala where she was born and had her schooling. Her graduation in 1971 is from Govt. Meera Girls’ College, Udaipur and B.Ed. in 1974 from Vidya Bhawan Teachers’ College, Udaipur.
After working as a teacher and administrator, she took a one-year Parambariyo Vaidya course in A.K.P.V.F. Kottayam, Kerala to serve the society. However, Dr. Joseph Pathalil, Bishop of Udaipur advised her to do something for the poor and needy. Surprisingly, as soon as she came out of the Bishop’s house, she and Sister Bernadette found an old lady Lali lying on the road with both legs fractured and infected wounds. After getting her treated, she was handed over to her distant relative. But after a few days, she was again found abandoned. The Sisters took her to a rented house and looked after her. When the number of unattended people on roadside increased they were shifted to the staff quarters of St. Paul’s School given by the Bishop. People in the neighbouring areas helped generously in various ways. When the number of the needy shot up the Bishop gave a big house in Sajjan Nagar. And thus came Ashadham Ashram in existence.
Sister Damian says that they have never faced any challenges as such as its God’s work and He took good care of them. When they started this Ashram they didn’t have a single penny with them. As residents were brought to the Ashram they were followed by helping hands to take care of their basic needs like food, clothing, medicines and house to live. In the past 20 years they never had a single day when the residents had to sleep without food. It was all done by Godsent people who came as donors asking them from time to time whether they needed any help.
Sister Damian says that Jesus is her role model and she is trying to follow his teachings of love for one another, being compassionate and forgiving, and by following the principles of universal brotherhood where she welcomes every human being as the children of one god and treats them with equality. Sister Damian is fully supported by Sisters Ignas, Eugine, Fabiania, Auxiliya and Archana.
The Sisters lead a disciplined life. They get up at 5.00 am and have morning prayers and meditation and then start the day with light breakfast. Then they get busy in carrying out the different activities to take care of the Ashram. There is no fixed time for lunch as they take it whenever they are free. The day ends with evening prayer around 8.30 pm followed by dinner but they continue to work. They sleep normally at 11 or 12 depending on when the office work is over. Their daily routine is their only exercise. Simple living and positive thinking is their way of life.
As they have left their parents at an early age and are leading a community life with fellow sisters and serving the society, they are their brothers, sisters and family members.
Sister Damian has visited many places in Rajasthan, Kerala and Holyland (Jerusalem) for pilgrimage etc.
For Sister Damian God is a loving and caring god who looks after us, much more than what our parents can do for us. He knows our talents and flaws and can make us do things which we have never thought about. She believes that she is participating and sharing God’s work and God willingly will continue doing His work as long as He allows her.
Till date, more than 1000 persons have been sheltered at Ashadham Ashram, more than 220 passed away and about 500 people were cured and left the Ashram. Presently, the Ashram has 280 residents, while the capacity is only 200. And each one who took shelter here has their own unique story. They have different family backgrounds like rich, poor, highly educated and uneducated. They all have lived here as their families have abandoned them or they had nobody to look after. Some were found on the roadsides, neglected, diseased, suffering from pain, sick, mentally ill etc. but they were all received at the Ashram with open arms and were cared for with compassion.
From time to time Sister Damian has been honoured by a huge number of Govt. Deptts. and religious and other social organizations.
As the number of inmates began to rise rapidly, the need for bigger accomodation was realized. To have separate accomodation for male and female and to have space for other facilities, 2.59 hectares of land at Hawala Khurd has been purchased from the Govt. with the help of donors. The new place would be home for male inmates with an old age home for 150 persons, mental home for 200 males, a large modern kitchen, dispensary, open spaces, gardens, prayer and recreation halls, staff accomodation etc. To speed up the project, Sister Damian is always on her toes to collect donations.
Run with the dedication and compassion of Sister Damian and her highly committed team of Sisters, Ashadham Ashram is an ideal shelter for the destitute of which Udaipurites can be rightly proud.