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St Joseph’s Prashanth Nivas Ashram in Mangaluru is a home away from home for the elderly and differently-abled individuals as well as school-going children, writes Hazel Colaco

Located in the serene environs of Jeppu in Mangaluru, St Joseph’s Prashanth Nivas Ashram is an embodiment of tranquillity. Prashanth Nivas is literally ‘an abode of peace’ for its residents.

The Ashram looks after different categories of people including the elderly, differently-abled and children. And the credit of taking good care of so many people, who are over 100 in number, goes to the dedicated nuns who belong to the Order of Sisters of Charity.

The history of St Joseph’s Prashanth Nivas can be traced back to 1882, when the Carmelite Fathers started a home for the destitute. It was later taken over by the Jesuits and in 1898, the Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa (SCCG) arrived from Italy and started rendering service to the residents of the Ashram.

Their motto was to dedicate their life, talents and actions for the good of their brethren and to be compassionate to the afflicted. To offer heal and comfort became the hallmark of the Sisters of Charity. In 1968, the Mangalore Diocese took over the management of the Ashram and in 1982, it was handed over the Sisters of Charity who continue to run the Ashram till now.

Their selfless service echoes the refrain “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren that you do unto me” as they strive to live up to the ideals laid down by the founder sisters. From abandoned infants to helpless, aged persons, the doors of Prashanth Nivas are open to all. Most who come here are from broken families or are from a poverty-stricken background. It is here that children with no parents and the needy are raised, cared for, educated and settled in life. Many of the ex-boarders have risen up in life, thanks to the positive start given to them at Prashanth Nivas.

Care and safety

One does come across many children abandoned in hospitals or on the streets simply because they have some disability. They are welcomed in the warm encompassing campus of the Ashram and are nurtured and cared for with such love and affection that they put parents to shame.

I have been a regular visitor to the Ashram since 1988 and have seen content residents connecting with each other very well. One whom I can remember rather fondly is Veronica, a cerebral palsy child who was found abandoned in Wenlock Hospital, Mangaluru. Now aged 26, she is not only being looked after by the sisters, but also by other residents with a lot of devotion that it surpasses the dedication of a family. Differently-abled individuals are also trained in crafts such as envelope making and flower making among other things, which keep them occupied and make them feel useful.

Senior citizens spend their time in the Prashanth Nivas free from the fear of who will take care of them. Here, they can be assured that they will live a life of dignity. Regarding the Ashram as their own, they join in whatever tasks they can perform — be it gardening, growing vegetables, cooking or cleaning and do it with much enthusiasm.

A unique bonhomie

Medical assistance is rendered to those who are sick and physiotherapy and exercise are a part of their daily routine. Regular counselling and motivation talks are given to sharpen their minds and help them cope with their mental stress. Entertainment and recreational activities too are organised on festive occasions.

The bubbly children, the endearing differently-challenged persons and the toothless grins of the octogenarians all go to show how loved and wanted they feel. The residents live like one family and are always concerned about the welfare of others. It is this bonhomie among the residents that makes this Ashram unique.

In today’s world, when fame and fortune beckons us and amassing it seems to be our only goal, let us spend some time to give a little cheer in the lives of  less-fortunate people. It is only then can we realise the everlasting peace that Prashanth Nivas Ashram seems to have in abundance. The St Joseph’s Prashanth Nivas Ashram can be contacted on 0824-2416921, 2414921.

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